Sweden (P) - 10-13 Feb 11

Posted: March 27, 2011 5:25 PM - 9414 Hits

Round 1 - 2011 World Rally Championship
P - Production Championship

Video Clips

Posted: March 27, 2011 5:25 PM


Posted: March 27, 2011 4:51 PM

Mads Østberg has made a fairytale debut for the M-Sport Stobart Ford World Rally Team by finishing runner-up at a nail-bitingly close FIA World Rally Championship season-opener in Sweden this weekend.

The 23-year-old Norwegian driver shone from start to finish in the all-new Ford Fiesta RS WRC and led the snow-laden rally for nine out of 22 stages – a remarkable achievement considering Østberg had completed only one short test in the new car prior to Sweden.

At the end of the second day, three Fiesta RS World Rally Cars held the top five spots in the Rally Sweden leaderboard, and with only 15.8 seconds separating all five contenders, Sunday was expected to be an action-packed finale.

Østberg and co-driver Jonas Andersson started the final day just 7.4 seconds behind rally leader, Ford Abu Dhabi’s Mikko Hirvonen.

Eager to catch their fellow Fiesta RS WRC driver, the young Norwegian showed an impressive show of speed which saw the gap between Hirvonen and Østberg reduce to a slender 4.9 seconds. However, with the final stage at just 4.16 km long, the young driver decided that he did not want to risk pushing too hard and Hirvonen took the rally lead by 6.5 seconds.

Østberg’s previous best result on a WRC event was sixth at 2009’s Rally Portugal and the talented driver has smashed two records for the M-Sport Stobart Ford team this weekend – on Friday he was the first Stobart driver to lead a rally at the end of a full day and his second-place finish is the highest ever final result in the squad’s six year history.

This is the ninth podium finish for the M-Sport Stobart Ford World Rally Team since their inception into the WRC in 2006 - the last time the Cumbrian-based squad were on the podium was at 2009’s Rally Poland when Henning Solberg finished third overall.

Team-mates Henning Solberg and co-driver Ilka Minor got off to a flying start in Sweden as they set the fastest time on Thursday’s shakedown. This was followed by two top-three fastest stage times on Friday and meant the M-Sport Stobart duo were fifth overall at the end of the first full day.

However, a power steering problem with the Norwegian’s Fiesta RS WRC meant that Solberg was four minutes late out of Saturday morning’s service. The M-Sport Stobart driver was hindered with more bad luck when he rolled 2 km into the day’s opening stage, Lesjöfors 1. Both Solberg and Minor escaped without injury but the roll cage was damaged upon impact so the pair were unable to return under SupeRally regulations for the final day of action.

Britain’s Matthew Wilson reported steering problems on Friday morning but a change in set-up at the midday service noticeably improved the 24-year-old’s times on the repeat afternoon pass. The young Cumbrian and his co-driver Scott Martin moved from 19th position at the end of the opening loop to 15th overall at the end of Day One.

A relatively trouble-free day on Saturday saw Matthew Wilson and co-driver Scott Martin move into tenth overall, 1.4 seconds from snatching ninth place from Patrik Sandell. The Briton continued to climb the WRC leaderboard on the final day and moved ahead of Fiesta RS WRC driver Khalid Al Qassimi to finish the rally ninth overall.

Mads Østberg said:
“I could never have imagined to finish this rally in a podium position – it feels very, very good! I was on the absolute limit today – if I went any faster, I would have made a mistake and I did not want to risk the fantastic result that we already had. It has been a brilliant weekend and to have won the first full stage in the new Ford Fiesta RS WRC is a record nobody can ever take away from me. The car has been fantastic and it is of great credit to the car and to Jonas [Andersson] who have played such a big part in helping me to achieve my first WRC podium. At the start of today I was thinking that it would mean everything to me if I could walk away with a podium position. Even though I was so close to catching Mikko [Hirvonen], he was pushing too hard and there was not enough stages to be able to catch him up. I was up against the best drivers in the world this weekend so to finish second is a dream come true.”

Matthew Wilson said:
“It’s been a good weekend overall – for sure, I am disappointed about the power steering problems that we had at the start but apart from that there’s been no major dramas. The car set-up has been working very well today and we’ve been lucky as the conditions have been a better than I had imagined. We’ve really enjoyed it out on the stages today but it’s just a shame that we lost so much time on Friday as we could have had a good battle with Kimi [Räikkönen]. We found a good rhythm this afternoon and I’m feeling very well prepared for Mexico, especially since it’s on gravel which is our preferred surface. It’s brilliant to hear that our new team-mate Mads has finished second, he has driven faultlessly this weekend and really deserves that spot on the podium.”

M-Sport Stobart Ford Team Principal Malcolm Wilson said:
“This has been a dream start for both Ford and for the M-Sport Stobart Ford World Rally Team. We are absolutely delighted that the Ford family have finished their debut event in the new Ford Fiesta RS WRC with a 1-2-3 on the podium - I couldn’t have imagined a more perfect season-opener. Mads has made an incredible debut in our new car - he has driven remarkably well from start to finish. He has really impressed this weekend - I hope that we can expect to see more podium finishes from the young talented driver throughout the season. Solberg also showed an incredible pace over the weekend but it was unfortunate that he had to retire yesterday, especially after he set some very fast times on the opening day. Matthew has done very well to battle back from the time he lost on the opening day and I am certain he will produce a strong performance when he drives the Fiesta RS WRC on gravel in Mexico.”

Director of Adapta Motorsport, Morten Østberg:
“I would like to pinpoint three factors that I consider to be most important in Mads’ second place in Sweden this weekend. Firstly, to Mads himself – we always knew he would be fast as soon as he sat behind the wheel of a World Rally Car. I’ve thought this for a long time and this weekend’s result has proved this to everyone. Secondly, the car has been fantastic – we have been so happy with the set-up and it has run remarkably well. Finally, I would like to thank M-Sport and how well we have been received and accepted as a part of the team. It makes us proud to be part of the M-Sport Stobart Ford team this year and we are very much looking forward to the rest of the season.”

The DS3 WRCs end on a high note

Posted: March 27, 2011 4:46 PM

On its first outing in competition, the Citroen DS3 WRC finished fourth in Rally Sweden thanks to Sebastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia. Their team-mates, Sebastien Loeb and Daniel Elena, came home sixth. The Citroen Total World Rally Team DS3 WRCs also scored a double in the Power Stage, the last stage in the event for which additional points were awarded.

One of the main difficulties of the rally was the ceaselessly changing road conditions, which had a major influence on the performance of the cars. On Friday, the fresh snow that fell before the start handicapped the crews that were first out on the road. Today it was the lack of wind that caused snow to be suspended in the air reducing the drivers’ visibility.

“It was very difficult,” said Julien Ingrassia.“We had a white veil in front of the bonnet. The snow remained suspended in the air and didn’t fall because there was no wind.”

“I had to lift off in some of the quicker sections just to be able to see,” added Ogier.
“I preferred not to take any risks. With the road covered with a good layer of hard ice, Mikko Hirvonen could take advantage of the best possible conditions.

Behind, it was difficult to find the right trajectory because of snow on the apexes.”
In the provisional top three at the arrival in Torntorp 2 (SS20), Ogier lost ground in Rammen 2 (SS21) :
“The car was sliding around at the rear. We hit a wall of snow and that blocked the air filter. At the end of the stage the engine wasn’t giving its full power.”

Ogier finished the rally in fourth place scoring three additional points thanks to his performance in the Power Stage that ended the event:
“I’m pretty happy with the result on only my second outing in Rally Sweden. We’ve got a lot of positive conclusions to draw from this event. Despite the difficulties, we’ve shown that the Citroen DS3 WRC is quick. I can’t wait to race on gravel where the car looks like it’ll run well.”

Sebastien Loeb, alone in sixth place, finished the rally without any pressure: “As I had nothing to aim for, I just had to bring the car home. Even if the result isn’t in keeping with our expectations, we had to score some points in the opening round, and we took advantage of the Power Stage to add another two. Thanks to our sixth place we may have a good starting position in Rally Mexico!”

Petter Solberg and Kimi Raikkonen in Citroen DS3 WRCs prepared by Citroen Racing Technologies also reached the finish of the first rally of the season. The Norwegian came home fifth, and the Finn arrived back in Karlstad in eighth place after a performance that bodes well for the rest of the championship.

“For their first race, the Citroen DS3 WRCs proved both reliable and competitive throughout the weekend,” summed up Olivier Quesnel, the Citroen Racing Team Principal. “Before the start we knew that we weren’t favourites on this very specific surface. Let’s wait for the first stages on gravel to have a better idea of each one’s potential.”

The Citroen DS3 WRCs will leave their studded tyres behind to fly off to Mexico. The next round run on gravel above sea level will take place between 3rd - 6th March 2011.

Point-scoring debut for Dennis Kuipers and the FERM World Rally Team

Posted: March 27, 2011 4:44 PM

The FERM Power Tools World Rally Team has made a points debut in the opening round of the FIA World Rally Championship in Sweden this weekend, despite only testing the all-new Ford Fiesta RS WRC for 75 km.

In one of the coldest editions of Rally Sweden in recent history, Dennis Kuipers and co-driver Frederic Miclotte finished a credible 13th overall. The team finished eighth in the Manufacturers’ championship.

Rally Sweden has been known for decades as a rally for snow specialists. This was more than ever the case for the 2011 edition - the snow showers in the nights before the opening day made the conditions unpredictable.

Kuipers changed his strategy to adapt to the new conditions as the FERM World Rally Team driver chose to gain experience with the Ford Fiesta RS WRC. “This is only my second rally in Sweden and, as a Dutchman, I can never outweigh the driving experience on snow and ice from many of my Scandinavian colleagues,” said Kuipers.

Despite problems with the turbo, the opening day finished with Kuipers in 17th place. Saturday’s following nine tests were trouble-free for the Dutch-Belgian duo and they crept up the WRC leaderboard to end the day in13th position.

The final six stages on Sunday consolidated this position. The FERM World Rally Team scored the first points ever on its debut rally - the first time ever for a Dutch team to score points in the WRC.

"I am very satisfied with how the rally has gone”, Kuipers told at the closing ceremony in Karlstad. “It is great that we have been able to score points in the Manufacturers’ championship and I have gained very valuable experience with the new car. I can only say that my mission was successful and I am looking forward to the next WRC round in Mexico later this month.”

Ford Fiesta RS WRC claims podium clean sweep on rally debut

Posted: March 27, 2011 4:41 PM

Ford's all-new Fiesta RS World Rally Car made a dream debut by powering to a 1-2-3 finish in Rally Sweden today. Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team's Mikko Hirvonen and Jarmo Lehtinen won a thrilling opening round of the FIA World Rally Championship by just 6.5sec from Mads Østberg and Jonas Andersson. Hirvonen's team-mates Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila were third.

It was Ford's first podium clean sweep since Rally Sweden in 2008, when Latvala claimed his maiden WRC win and was followed home by Hirvonen and Gigi Galli. Ford Abu Dhabi holds an 18 point lead in the manufacturers' world championship and Hirvonen's victory makes him Ford's most successful WRC driver. This was his 13th victory, edging him ahead of former team-mate Marcus Grönholm.

Eager anticipation built up ahead of the start. New cost-effective, more environmentally aware regulations – based around 1600cc turbocharged, four-wheel drive cars – ushered in a fresh era for the WRC. The first rally for the new-generation cars proved an exciting one with five drivers starting the final day with a realistic chance of victory.

Conditions were ideal for winter rallying as drivers battled over 22 speed tests covering 351.00km in central Sweden. The forest roads were frozen hard by temperatures that dipped as low as -28ºC, providing perfect grip for Michelin's tungsten-tipped studded tyres. However, blizzards on the opening leg of the four-day event handicapped the early starters as they ploughed the roads to leave a cleaner and faster line for those behind.

Hirvonen benefited from a later start position on the opening leg to end it just 14.8sec behind Østberg. Second in the start order was far from ideal in the second leg. However, he took the lead and built up a healthy advantage before a spin handed 15sec back to his rivals. He began today with a 7.4sec lead and, on roads that were remarkably free of loose snow, extended it with three stage wins. Grip was worse when the tests were repeated, but Hirvonen preserved his lead to repeat his 2010 win.

"It was an amazing weekend for the whole team and a fantastic feeling to stand on the top step of the podium for the first time for 12 months, surrounded by Ford colleagues," said the 30-year-old Finn. "Technically, the car was fantastic and I didn't need to change the set-up once. It's early days with the car, but I'm really starting to understand how it behaves now. The car and I are learning together.

"The roads were clean and smooth this morning, and I pushed as hard as I could because I knew they would be dirtier this afternoon. I'm not usually nervous, but I was before the final stage. Østberg put up a great fight and I didn't have enough time in hand for even a small mistake. After such a difficult season last year, this is a superb start to 2011," added Hirvonen.

Latvala enjoyed a roller-coaster weekend, mixing stage-winning pace with several spins into snow banks. He ended the opening leg in fourth and admitted he was lucky to escape unscathed from three spins. The 25-year-old Finn was too aggressive early in the second leg and couldn't find a rhythm, but was transformed in the afternoon to reduce the gap to the lead from 44.3sec to 10.9sec.

His victory hopes ended when he slid into a snowbank on the opening stage this morning. The impact ripped the front bumper from the car and his windscreen froze up. He dropped to fifth, but fastest time in two of the final three stages brought a hard-earned podium.
"It was the most eventful rally weekend of my life and, after so many ups and downs, I'm really happy with third," said Latvala.

"I was close to the top of the leaderboard so many times, but then I found another snow bank to hinder me. A podium didn't look likely this morning but I didn't give up, I kept fighting and got my reward. Now I can breathe easily. After hitting the bank this morning, my windscreen froze and the sun and snow dust hanging in the air made visibility so tricky," he added.

Khalid Al Qassimi and Michael Orr, driving the team's Fiesta RS WRC for the satellite Team Abu Dhabi squad, finished 10th. "This weekend went well for us. I'm pleased to finish in the top 10 and the improvement in speed this year compared to last is really encouraging. The temperatures here were just extraordinary and made driving difficult, but the new car responded well," said Al Qassimi.

Ford Abu Dhabi team director Malcolm Wilson was overjoyed with the result. "It was a dream start to the season and to achieve what we did with a brand new car adds to the accomplishment. Mikko endured a tough season last year so I'm delighted he started 2011 so well. Jari-Matti survived a few close escapes, but also showed great pace and a podium was deserved.

Ford of Europe motorsport chief Gerard Quinn said:
"To lock out the podium in the first rally with the all-new Fiesta RS WRC is more than we could have hoped for. It's a rewarding start to our 2011 campaign for every member of the team, which has worked thousands of hours to ensure the car was competitive from the very start."

News from other Ford teams

Second was a career-best result for M-Sport Stobart Ford driver Østberg, who led after the opening leg. Team-mates Matthew Wilson and Scott Martin were ninth, but Henning Solberg and Ilka Minor rolled the team's third car into retirement yesterday. Monster World Rally Team's Ken Block and Alex Gelsomino were 14th while the privately-entered car of PG Andersson and Emil Axelsson was eighth.


Posted: March 27, 2011 4:38 PM

1. M Hirvonen/J Lehtinen FIN Ford Fiesta RS 3hr 23min 56.6sec
2. M Østberg/J Andersson NOR Ford Fiesta RS 3hr 24min 03.1sec
3. J-M Latvala/M Anttila FIN Ford Fiesta RS 3hr 24min 30.6sec
4. S Ogier/J Ingrassia FRA Citroen DS3 3hr 24min 44.3sec
5. P Solberg/C Patterson NOR Citroen DS3 3hr 25min 27.8sec
6. S Loeb/D Elena FRA Citroen DS3 3hr 26min 26.9sec
7. P-G Andersson/E Axelsson SWE Ford Fiesta RS 3hr 30min 18.6sec
8. K Räikkönen/K Lindström FIN Citroen DS3 3hr 30min 58.9sec
9. M Wilson/S Martin GBR Ford Fiesta RS 3hr 34min 08.1sec
10 K Al Qassimi/M Orr UAE Ford Fiesta RS 3hr 34min 27.7sec

Photos: Petter Solberg/Chris Patterson's DS3

Posted: February 8, 2011 5:15 PM

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Posted: February 7, 2011 7:10 PM

The 2011 Rally Sweden is more than just the opening meet of the new season. The rally also marks the premiere of the new generation of World Rally Cars and the FERM Power Tools World Rally Team is proud to make their debut there in the FIA World Rally Championship.

Over the past few months, driver Dennis Kuipers (NL) and co-driver Frédéric Miclotte (BE) have undergone intensive and successful preparations to be able to begin optimally in what is already noted as a historic WRC season.

Training in ice and snow

In the run up to Sweden, Dennis Kuipers spent many hours in winter conditions.
“The Rally of Sweden is synonymous for sub-zero temperatures, snow-covered and ice-covered roads and high speed class tests. That requires a specific approach,” the FERM Power Tools World Rally Team driver said.

Dennis Kuipers perfected his driving style on ice and snow in Norway.
“For my Scandinavian colleagues, driving on snow is second nature,” Kuipers said. “But I come from the Netherlands. We only get snow occasionally, so I seek out other possibilities for training.” He was coached in this type of driving by John Haugland. The Norwegian Haugland has been recognized for decades as the authority on rally driving in winter conditions.

Huge potential

Shortly after the training period, Dennis Kuipers travelled to M-Sport in Cumbria, England, where he was first introduced to the Ford Fiesta RS WRC. The driver was very impressed by the new car after only the first test drive. “The 1600 cc turbo motor provides constant power,” he said. "In combination with the outstanding road grip, M-Sport has produced a rally car with huge potential.”

In 2011, Dennis Kuipers and Frederic Miclotte will contest in eleven WRC events in Ford’s all-new challenger for 2011. The FERM Power Tools World Rally Team is relying on M-Sport for the maintenance of the car. M-Sport has operated Ford’s World Rally programme since 1997, and helped Ford clinch the manufacturers' world title in both 2006 and 2007.


The first class test for the FERM Power Tools World Rally Team is scheduled for Thursday 10 February as a Super Special Stage will take place in Karlstad. After a total of 22 class tests, Rally Sweden will also finish in Karlstad on Sunday afternoon, 13 February. The test at Lovhausen will be particularly special: after the start in Sweden, the rally continues over the border with Norway, and then returns to finish on Swedish soil.

About FERM Power Tools

With an extensive selection of electrical tools, FERM gives millions of DIY’ers optimal ease of use, celebrated design and powerful performance at a competitive price. Customers of DIY stores, department stores and supermarkets around the world trust FERM’s quality.

Citroën Racing: starting from a blank sheet!

Posted: February 4, 2011 9:55 PM

The 2011 season sees the opening of a new chapter in the history of the FIA World Rally Championship. The Citroën Total World Rally Team has entered two new DS3 WRCs to defend their World Manufacturers’ and Drivers’ titles. After several months of intensive development of their new cars Sébastien Loeb / Daniel Elena and Sébastien Ogier / Julien Ingrassia are ready to take on their rivals on the ice in Rally Sweden.

After the Xsara WRCs and the C4 WRCs, both crowned with triple titles, Citroën Racing is launching the DS3 WRC on the roads of the FIA World Rally Championship. The Citroën DS3 WRC that complies with the new regulations drawn up by the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile is a real package of Creative Technology.

The DS3 WRC is shorter and more compact than the previous cars, and is powered by a new 1600 cm3 direct injection turbo engine designed in-house by Citroën Racing. This new generation of World Rally Cars puts the emphasis on driving skills after the suppression of the central differential, and the return of a mechanical gear selection mechanism.

Back for their eleventh season as a Citroën works crew, Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena are starting the year with all the hunger of young chargers out to score their first victory! The Franco-Monegasque pair, 7-time world champions on the trot, are bubbling with enthusiasm on the eve of this new challenge. Alongside them are Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia, who won their place in the Citroën Total World Rally Team during a more than promising 2010 season.

Rally Sweden, the first of the thirteen rounds on the 2011 calendar, is a unique event. It is the only one run on snow, and for a long time it was an exclusively Scandinavian hunting ground. Since the year of its first running, 1950, only one driver has beaten the Vikings on their home turf, Sébastien Loeb, who won it the same year as he racked up his first world title!

The route of the 2011 rally goes through the regions of Värmland and Dalarna, and the service park is in Hagfors. The event even makes a brief foray into Norwegian territory (Lovhaugen, SS4/7).

With just a few days to go to the first round, Olivier Quesnel, the Citroën Racing Team Principal, is champing at the bit:
“We can’t wait to see the first times to find out if the team has done a good job. However, Rally Sweden isn’t really representative of the difficulties we’ll have to face during the season. Our crews know what they have to do and they have my full confidence to come out on top in this new campaign.”

Rally Sweden will also be the theatre of the first Power Stage of the season.
The 4.16-km Gustavsfors (SS22) special will be televised live, and 3, 2 and 1 points will be awarded to the first three for the Drivers’ and Co- Drivers’ Championships.

Two more Citroën DS3 WRCs are entered for Petter Solberg / Chris Patterson and Kimi Räikkönen / Kaj Lindström. Each crew has covered 250 km on two stretches representative of the Swedish route. Solberg has been able to adapt the car to his driving style, and he is both delighted and enthused by the performance of the new engine. Räikkönen was happy with the DS3 balance and handling on his first test; he ran through the different setups and will start the rally with the closest options to those of the works team.

Three questions to Sébastien Loeb
After winning seven drivers’ titles on the trot, your only aim must be to become the first person in the history of motor sport to win an eighth world title...
“It’s difficult to see any other goal! But at least I hope I can fight to defend my title. I’m not going to change my strategy; we’ll just tackle the races as they come. This year with the new regulations there are a lot of unknown factors.”

Are you impatient to be in Sweden?
“I can’t wait! But I don’t think the results will be a pointer to the rest of the season. The most common surface in the world championship is gravel. That’s where the title will be decided. In testing I felt more at home on gravel than on snow. While it wouldn’t be very good to be two seconds off the pace of our rivals, the first rally isn’t the most important one of the season.”

Are you afraid that the change in the regulations will turn the established order upside down?
“I’ve got a good feeling about the car. During testing I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the engine and the overall balance despite the absence of the central differential. I really think that the season’s going to go off well, but the stopwatch is the only yardstick. I’m not the kind of guy who says things unless I’m sure of being able to back them up. So we’ll have to wait for the results of the opening rallies before making any predictions.”

Three questions to Sébastien Ogier

You’ve already covered several thousand kilometres testing in the Citroën DS3 WRC before the first rally. Do you feel you’re ready?
“We’ve done a lot of running since the middle of the 2010 season with a large number of test sessions on all types of surfaces. It’s never enough, we always want to do more! There are things to be validated, but overall the car handles well. Racing will provide the best answer to all our questions.”

You’re in the same team as the reigning world champion. Does that mean you have the best team-mate or the biggest rival?
“The Citroën Team spirit is all about collaboration. We share the maximum amount of information, technically speaking. We have to know how to work together. Our common objective is to win for Citroën. We’ve got the same chances and the same equipment. It’s up to me to prove that I can do as well as the world champion.”

How important is Rally Sweden?
“It’s an event I really know very little about, as I’ve only done it once, in 2009. I’m expecting a fairly difficult race, but I know that the season is long, and that the outcome of the championship won’t be decided on snow. There are many parameters that can upset the established order, the new regulations, the new Michelin tyres etc. Maybe I’ll feel in a position to go for victory. If it’s not the case, I’ll drive a steady race to score a result in view of the championships.”


Posted: February 4, 2011 9:53 PM

M-Sport Stobart Ford World Rally Team will debut a new car and a new team member on next week’s Rally Sweden, curtain-raiser to the 2011 FIA World Rally Championship.

The Cumbrian-based squad return to the WRC for the sixth consecutive year with the all-new Fiesta RS World Rally Car.
The new car – which replaces the championship-winning Ford Focus RS WRC – is derived from the best-selling Fiesta road car and is based on the Ford Fiesta S2000, which won the legendary Rally Monte-Carlo in January 2010 and the inaugural Super 2000 World Rally Championship (S-WRC) in 2010.

The team welcome Norwegian driver Mads Østberg to the team. The 23-year-old driver – partnered by experienced Swedish co-driver Jonas Andersson - has already contested two rounds of this year’s Norwegian Rally Championship in a Fiesta S2000 and the pair have finished first in class on both events.

The Scandinavian pairing will be feeling extra confident as they use their recent driving experience in the NRC to master the winter weather and help assist the M-Sport Stobart Ford crew with a flying start to the new season. Regular team-mates Henning Solberg and co-driver Ilka Minor will return to the M-Sport Stobart Ford team for the sixth consecutive year. This will be Solberg’s thirteenth outing at Rally Sweden and the Norwegian driver will be hoping that his experience competing in the Ford Fiesta S2000 in 2010 will make for a smoother transition to the Fiesta RS WRC. Solberg will test the new car for the first time on Monday.

Britain’s Matthew Wilson will be the third M-Sport Stobart driver in Sweden. The 24-year-old returns to drive alongside long-term co-driver Scott Martin for his sixth year but the Cumbrian pair will not be nominated point-scorers for this event.

Wilson has tested the Fiesta RS WRC extensively over the past few months and is hoping that his knowledge of the car will allow him to improve on his seventh place finish from last year’s event.

All M-Sport Stobart crews will test the Fiesta RS WRC over the weekend and the specially-developed Michelin tyre which feature nearly 400 tungsten-tipped metal studs will assist in giving the crews maximum traction in the sub-zero conditions.

Mads Østberg said:
“I am really looking forward to Sweden, I’ve got to know the Ford Fiesta S2000 well on the two first Norwegian Rally Championship rounds and I really enjoy driving the car on snow. It has taken me a while to get used to not having a 300-litre trunk behind the rear wheels but now I feel very confident with the car. Even though I have got to know the Fiesta S2000, I think the Ford Fiesta RS WRC will be almost the same but only with more power. Sweden is one of my favourite rallies with fast and flowing roads and I believe we can make a good show at our home event.”

Henning Solberg said:
“Snow is where I feel most comfortable in a rally car so Sweden is a perfect event for me to start in the new Fiesta RS WRC. I really enjoyed driving the Fiesta S2000 last year and I have a good feeling that everything will work just as nicely with the new car. For sure, the Fiesta S2000 helped my confidence and given me a lot of good experience. I’m really looking forward to testing the new car on Monday, I think it’ll be a lot of fun to drive and it’s good that Ilka [Minor] is back with me for the new season.”

Matthew Wilson said:
“We’re starting the championship with one of the quickest rallies of the year so the challenge will be to get up to speed straight away on the first day. Of course that is going to be very difficult as we are contesting with a totally new car but I’ve been lucky enough to do a lot of testing in the Fiesta RS WRC which should definitely help. The new car has got all the best parts of the old Focus RS WRC but in a smaller chassis and it’s very reactive - the car does everything you’d want it to do. Sweden is definitely one of my more favoured events because of the incredible high speeds but this year is going to be a leap into the unknown for everyone - I don’t think any amount of testing could fully prepare us for what’s in store next week.”

All-new Ford Fiesta RS WRC geared up for Rally Sweden debut

Posted: February 4, 2011 9:50 PM

After completing more than 12000km of testing, the all-new Ford Fiesta RS World Rally Car will make its debut at Rally Sweden (10 - 13 February) next week. The opening round of the 2011 FIA World Rally Championship will introduce a fresh era to the sport, and the renamed Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team has prepared meticulously in the development of its new-generation WRC challenger.

Testing broke through the 12000km barrier last week – the equivalent of more than two seasons of WRC competition – and 2854km of that took place in Sweden in readiness for the season's only snow and ice encounter. Final approval by the FIA, the sport's governing body, of all technical aspects of the Fiesta RS WRC was left to the last moment to allow the team to maximise performance and provide its drivers with the best chance of a successful start.

With many changes introduced into a more cost-effective WRC for 2011, the consistency is provided by drivers Mikko Hirvonen and Jarmo Lehtinen and team-mates Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila. The Finnish quartet will spearhead Ford Abu Dhabi's challenge for the fourth consecutive season, and will share equal number one status.

Both pairings are excited about competing in the Castrol EDGE-backed Fiesta RS WRC for the first time and the frozen countryside of central Sweden is a perfect place for them to start. Twenty-five-year-old Latvala, runner-up in the drivers' championship last year, scored his first WRC win there in 2008 and 30-year-old Hirvonen won Rally Sweden in 2010.

Temperatures can plunge as low as -25ºC and that places huge demands on man and machine. Keeping the Fiesta RS WRC at peak performance in such unrelenting cold will demand huge resolve from the team's mechanics, who must work outside in the snow. But for the drivers a winter wonderland, where studded tyres, anti-snow glare sunglasses and heated driving boots are 'de rigeur', brings great anticipation.

Almost 400 tungsten-tipped 7mm steel studs protrude from each winter tyre of new partner Michelin to bite into the ice and provide amazing grip and, paradoxically, this is one of the year's fastest rounds. Drivers can also 'lean' their cars against the solid snow banks that line the forest roads to guide them around corners, extracting the extra speed that can make the difference between winning and losing.

Hirvonen aims to bounce back from a disappointing 2010 and said the new-look WRC format is the ideal way to banish last year's memories. "We have a new car, new rules and a new look for the sport and I'm so excited that I can't wait to get to Sweden for the rally," he said. "Initially in testing I was simply learning about the Fiesta and making changes to understand how it reacted. That took a while, but then I was able to focus more specifically on set-up work.

"We'll continue to learn as the season progresses, but I'm really happy with where we are now in terms of development. I'll need to be more committed behind the wheel in the new car. It doesn't forgive as much as the old-style cars, so I need to be firm and tell the car exactly where I want to go. It's a bigger challenge driving the Fiesta RS WRC, but it's also great fun," he added.

Latvala is also excited ahead of the new season. "Rally Sweden is a great place to start. I tested there for five days, focused on set-up work. By the last day I felt I had tried all the options and I knew what set-up I wanted for the rally. The Fiesta RS WRC handles well in the snow and its balance is brilliant. It's shorter, so the weight is centrally located and it reacts quickly. The six-speed gearbox is a big improvement, and I worked hard on perfecting the gear ratios," he said.

"I'm confident we'll be competitive throughout the season. The biggest target for the team is to win the manufacturers' title. To fight for the drivers' title also would be a dream, but the manufacturers' crown is key for Ford. If we can match consistency with speed, that would be the perfect situation. I feel relaxed. I'm not experiencing the same pressure as I did at the start of 2010, but I'm sure that when I get to Sweden and begin the recce, the butterflies will begin in my stomach," he added.

Khalid Al Qassimi and Michael Orr will drive a third Fiesta RS WRC and the pair will chase points for the new Team Abu Dhabi. Their car will carry an identical livery to that of Hirvonen and Latvala. But entering the championship for Team Abu Dhabi promotes Al Qassimi to a top priority driver, offering wider testing opportunities and the bonus of a safety crew on asphalt events later in the year.

"I can't wait for the season to start and I'm really looking forward to driving the new car in Sweden," said Al Qassimi. "It's completely different to anything I've driven in WRC before. It should be an interesting experience and a fresh challenge. This season we have high hopes to improve and make a real impact on the championship."

Team News

* Rally Sweden marks the beginning of the team's new partnership with Michelin and the French company will provide control rubber for the Fiesta RS WRCs throughout 2011. In Sweden the cars will use Michelin X-Ice North rubber, which will be fitted with 7mm studs to penetrate the snow and ice. Each car can carry two spare wheels.

* After Rally Sweden, the Ford Abu Dhabi team will test for five days on gravel in Portugal in preparation for Rally Mexico. Latvala will drive for the opening two days, with Hirvonen taking to the wheel for the final three days.

* Six other Fiesta RS WRCs are entered. Henning Solberg / Ilka Minor and Mads Østberg / Jonas Andersson are nominated by the M-Sport Stobart Ford team, which has also entered Matthew Wilson / Scott Martin. Monster World Rally Team's Ken Block / Alex Gelsomino, FERM Power Tools World Rally Team's Dennis Kuipers / Frederic Miclotte and P-G Andersson / Emil Axelsson complete the Fiesta RS WRC entries.

Kimi and Petter in Rally Sweden

Posted: January 10, 2011 9:21 PM

The entry was closed at three o´clock Monday afternoon to the 2011 WRC season opener Rally Sweden. Nearly 130 cars of twenty nationalities were entered when the last accepted one arrived via e-mail. One of the last ones came from Finn Kimi Räikönen whose entry arrived just before 15.00.

Citroën Total Rally Team entered their two French drivers Sébastien Loeb and Sebastien Ogier in the new Citroën DS3 WRC and Ford World Rally Team have entered the two fast Finns Mikko Hirvonen and Jari-Matti Latvala together with Khalid Al Qassimi from United Arab Emirate in the new Ford Fiesta RS WRC.

A number of new WRC-teams are added to the works teams from Citroën and Ford. In the new ICE 1 Racing WRC team you will find Kimi Räikönnen driving a Citroën DS3 and Petter Solberg WRC Team in a DS3 WRC Citroën number four.

American Ken Block has been entered by Monster World Rally Team in a Ford Fiesta RS WRC and the Dutchman Dennis Kuipers by Ferm Powertools World Rally Team in an identical car.

M-Sport Ford World Rally Team is the two car Ford team entering Norwegian Henning Solberg and English Matthew Wilson also in the new Fiesta based WRC car. Another Norwegian in a Stobart M-Sport Ford Rally Team is Mads Østberg.

Among the PWRC entrants you will find Alexander Villanueva from Spain, Jukka Ketomäki from Finland, in Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X and Martin Semerad from Check Republik, in a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX. The fast Nordic drivers Swede Patrik Flodin and Norwegian Anders Grøndal are driving Subaru Imprezas. Patrik Flodin was last year´s PWRC winner and he must accept being the favorite in PWRC even this year.

The new GT class introduced this season, makes it possible to start with the first Porsche since many years in the World Rally Championship series. Richard Tuthill from Banbury, GB, was the first one to accept the challenge on the icy Swedish roads.

Entries Received

Posted: December 30, 2010 2:48 PM

Includes Eamonn Boland (Evo X) and Craig Breen (Fiesta S2000)

Click on "The Rally 2011":

Event Website / Rally Guide 1 Available

Posted: September 24, 2010 11:56 AM

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