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Portugal (J/T) - 27-30 May 10

Posted: June 2, 2010 10:50 AM - 5880 Hits

Round 6 - 2010 World Rally Championship
T - FIA WRC Cup for S2000 Teams
J – Junior Championship

Photos

Posted: June 2, 2010 10:50 AM

Ketomaa closes gap on Pons in Portugal

Posted: June 1, 2010 9:40 AM

Finnish Jari Ketomaa won his second consecutive Super 2000 World Rally Championship (S-WRC) round in the Algarve this weekend and is steadily closing the gap on the current series leader, Spanish Xevi Pons.

The Vodafone Rally de Portugal kicked off in the Algarve Stadium on Thursday evening with an exciting tarmac Super Special Stage. The stadium, built for the 2004 European Championships, attracted thousands of rally fans to watch the six Ford Fiesta crews go head to head round the spectacular flood-lit 2.03km speed test.

Mild weather in Portugal meant stages were very dry with fast, hard-packed surfaces and Ketomaa reported problems with grip on the 22.72km opening stage on Friday’s opening loop. Despite these problems, Ketomaa still managed a solid start producing the fastest stage time in SS2, giving him an early 23.2 second lead in the S-WRC class.

Dennis Kuipers had an unfortunate opening day as he suffered from a broken alternator belt during SS6 and was forced to retire for the day. Current S-WRC leader, Xevi Pons hit a bridge during SS3 which caused a puncture and cost the young Spaniard over 30 seconds in time. Despite this, Pons remained steady in the afternoon and finished day one in fourth position.

Bernardo Sousa encountered no problems during the first five stages but suffered from a puncture during SS6. Despite losing time as a result of the puncture, the young Portugese driver remained in fourth position in the S-WRC class at the end of day one. Janne Tuohino experienced problems with a broken drive shaft and also some steering problems which cost the Finn to drop back into fifth position by the end of SS7

Saturday’s stages were the longest of the event and saw Kuipers return to the S-WRC class under SupeRally regulations. The second full day of action comprised of six gravel tests covering 135.10km based north of the service park. Stages were very narrow, with several blind crests and included a repeat loop of the rally’s longest stage, 26.20km Almodovar (SS8 and SS11), which kicked off the morning and afternoon loop.

Tuohino reported steering problems during the morning’s opening stage and the Finn lost a significant amount of time during SS8 and SS9. This problem was rectified in the midday service but the Finn dropped back to seventh position. Sousa reported problems with his back rear diff in the morning and this was changed during the midday service.

French Julien Maurin had to retire on Saturday’s morning loop after his alternator belt snapped. At the end of day one, Ketomaa led the S-WRC class by over three minutes and was placed 12th overall. Xevi Pons was second in the S-WRC class and was placed 13th overall.

Sunday's final day of Vodafone Rally de Portugal was the shortest of the event, with the action centred round four gravel stages in the Serra do Caldeirão hills, north of Faro and a second visit to the Super Special Stage in the Algarve Stadium. The final 2.03km stage comprised of four laps of a tight and twisty circuit inside the stadium and a faster section through the car park outside.

The final five stages did not pose any major problems for the Ford Fiesta S2000 crews but Tuohino reported further steering problems in the morning’s opening loop.

The Fiesta S2000 has now won the opening four rounds of the S-WRC category and despite Ketomaa winning the last two S-WRC rounds, Pons continues to lead the championship overall.
Xevi Pons said:
“This was the first time I had been in Rally de Portugal and the stages were a lot harder than I was expecting. I am pleased to have finished second in the class overall because I was a lot further down the class a couple of days ago. There were no problems with the car apart from on the first day when I got a puncture and lost about 30 seconds. It was important that I got a good result though and I am happy with my end result.”

Bernardo Sousa said:
“This was a hard round because I will be competing in the Portugese National Rally too – every day you get a score, so I cannot take any risks which could result in a retirement so had to remain steady. I had no major problems throughout the weekend apart from a noisy rear diff yesterday which was changed. It was worrying when I got back from SS17 as there was hardly any fuel in the car which meant I may not be able to do the Super Special but I am pleased to have got to the end of a difficult rally.”

Janne Tuohino said:
“I was last here for Rally Portugal in 2006 and ended up finishing second overall so it was a good rally for me. Yesterday morning I had problems with my steering but it got better by the afternoon after the midday service. The same problems happened to my steering again this morning but they were sorted again for this afternoon. I also had problems with my drive shaft on the opening day but I’m pleased to have made it to the end.”

Jari Ketomaa said:
“Portugal is a new rally for me and Friday started off perfectly for me. I was confident with the set up of the car throughout the rally and I didn’t have to take any risks at all which was good for me – it meant that I could just drive and enjoy the rally. They were very tough stages but it was enjoyable for the drivers. The service team did a very good job throughout the weekend and I am delighted to have got another win in the S-WRC class.”

Dennis Kuipers said:
“This is my second time in Portugal and the stages here have been very difficult. It’s been a good event and apart from having to retire early on Friday afternoon I had no other problems. I didn’t make any mistakes on Saturday or Sunday’s stages and was able to get a good rhythm going. As the event progressed, I found that I was getting more and more confident with the car and I’m really pleased with my performance this weekend.”

M-Sport Managing Director Malcolm Wilson said:
“The Vodafone Rally de Portugal has been a fantastic turn out in the S-WRC category this season. Ketomaa displayed some fantastic driving over the weekend and thoroughly deserves his second win in this category. We were delighted with the Ford Fiesta S2000 clean sweep podium finish in New Zealand last month and I am delighted that Ketomaa and Pons have secured more podium finishes for the Fiesta crews.”

Munchi’s Team Prosper in Portugal

Posted: June 1, 2010 9:37 AM

The Munchi’s Ford World Rally Team made steady progress in the sixth round of the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) this weekend finishing eighth overall and successfully securing their fifth consecutive points finish in the 44th edition of the Vodafone Rally de Portugal.

Federico Villagra and co-driver, Jorge Pérez Companc, got off to a flying start on Thursday evening as they finished the opening tarmac Super Special Stage second-fastest. Constructed in 2004, huge crowds flocked to watch the WRC drivers go head to head round the spectacular flood-lit 2.03km speed test. The Argentinean duo manipulated the sweeping hairpin bends and tight corners perfectly and were just 0.1 seconds off claiming the fastest time in the short opening stage.

Mild weather in the Algarve greeted 74 starting entries for the first full day of WRC action where the Argentinean rally duo tackled 130.61km of competitive distance over 6 testing stages in their Ford Focus RS WRC. Temperatures topped late twenties throughout the event and made road conditions on the tests very dry with lots of dust and fast, hard-packed surfaces.

The main difference from 2009 was the Friday’s opening Santa Clara stage (SS2 and SS6), which was run in reverse. Villagra struggled in this opening 22.72km stage and his shaky start knocked him from second position overall down into twelfth. However, the Munchi’s driver found his rhythm in SS3, moving up a position and pulling into the midday service in eleventh position overall, just 8.8 seconds behind Kimi Raikkonen.

Villagra encountered no major difficulties when tackling the repeat loop on Friday and finished the day in eleventh position overall. The gap between Villagra and Raikkonen, however, had extended to 28.8 seconds but would still provide an exciting battle between the two WRC drivers in Saturday’s tests.

Saturday was the longest of the rally and comprised of 135.10km of competitive distance covering six gravel stages north of the service park, including a repeat loop of the rally’s longest stage, 26.20km Almodovar (SS8 and SS11), which kicked off the morning and afternoon loop. Villagra took an early advantage of Nasser Al Attiyah who stopped in SS9 and the rally duo moved up into tenth position.

In the repeat afternoon loop, Villagra encountered no major problems but Al Attiyal was close on Villagra’s tail throughout and, after producing an extremely fast stage time in SS13, the two drivers finished in joint tenth position at the end of Saturday’s afternoon loop. Villagra and Al Attiyal had also closed the gap on Raikonnen and just 25.4 seconds separated Villagra and Al Attiyal from snatching ninth position from the former Formula One driver.

The final day of Rally de Portugal featured four all-gravel stages, with the only difference to last year’s route being on the Felizes 21.28km stage (SS14 and SS16) which has a new 3.11km finish. The rally finished with another stage round the 2.03km tarmac stage round the Algarve Stadium. Villagra produced two top ten stage times in SS14 and SS15 and took advantage of Stobart M-Sport Ford’s Henning Solberg retiring in SS15 which moved him inside the top ten and into ninth position.

Just 12.2 seconds separated Raikkonen and Villagra as they entered the final three stages and a close battle for eighth position ensued. Villagra finished SS16 seventh-fastest and his quick time meant Villagra was pushed up into eighth position overall. The Munchi’s team finished on a high and produced the fastest stage time by 0.7 seconds in the final Super Special Stage at the end of an action-packed Rally de Portugal.
The Munchi’s Ford World Rally Team leave the sixth round of the WRC with a fifth consecutive points finish and enhance its position in the championship table.

Munchi’s Ford WRT driver Federico Villagra said:
“This was a good rally for me and I really enjoyed the Super Special. It was hard to find the right speed at the start and I was very cautious in the beginning. The stages here in Portugal were not easy and there are some very technical sections that I wasn’t sure how to manage. I needed to trust my pacenotes more but I was feeling much more confident on Saturday and Sunday, setting much faster times. I am happy that I caught up on the drivers who were beating my times on Friday and Saturday and look forward to my next WRC round.”

Stobart Squad scoop points in Portugal

Posted: June 1, 2010 9:34 AM

Stobart M-Sport Ford’s Matthew Wilson/Scott Martin made it safely to the end of a tough round of the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) in Portugal this weekend, finishing in sixth position overall. Team-mates Henning Solberg/Ilka Minor were less fortunate and retired in the final day due to a broken alternator belt on their Ford Focus RS WRC.

The Vodafone Rally de Portugal kicked off in the Algarve Stadium on Thursday evening with an exciting tarmac Super Special Stage. Constructed in 2004, huge crowds flocked to watch the WRC drivers go head to head round the spectacular flood-lit 2.03km speed test. Henning Solberg/Ilka Minor were paired with Henning’s younger brother Petter, and finished the test only 0.1 seconds off claiming fourth position. Matthew Wilson/Scott Martin finished the opening test seventh-fastest overall.

Despite a shaky start from Solberg on Friday, the Norwegian steadily improved throughout the morning’s opening loop and finished SS3 sixth-fastest. This fast stage time helped close the gap on his team-mate and just 0.1 seconds separated the Cumbrian based squads as they entered the final test of the morning. Solberg produced another excellent time on SS4 and finished fifth-fastest overall, just 0.3 seconds BP Ford Abu Dhabi’s Jari-Matti Latvala. At the end of the first morning, the Norwegian moved up into seventh position and Wilson was moved back into eighth.

Solberg continued to improve his times during Friday afternoon and clocked the third-fastest time in the day’s final test, just 2.6 seconds off claiming second place in the stage. At the end of the day 33.9 seconds separated Solberg in seventh position and Wilson in eighth and the Norwegian was just 17.9 seconds from claiming sixth position as he entered day two.

Saturday was the longest day of the rally and comprised of 135.10km of competitive distance covering six gravel stages north of the service park, including a repeat loop of the rally’s longest stage, 26.20km Almodovar (SS8 and SS11), which kicked off the morning and afternoon loop. On this tough opening stage, Wilson encountered braking problems half way through the test and reported he was struggling with grip on the rear end of his Ford Focus RS WRC. Solberg also reported problems with his fuel pump but finished the test 2.8 seconds faster than his Cumbrian team-mate.

During the midday service, Solberg’s fuel pumps were changed and the Stobart-backed crews encountered no major difficulties when tackling the repeat afternoon loop. Solberg improved his times in the repeat loop, finishing SS11 fifth-fastest and pulling into the end of day service in sixth position. Wilson was sitting comfortably behind Solberg in seventh position with no immediate threat as he lay 54.9 seconds ahead of Mads Ostberg.

Sunday's final day of Vodafone Rally de Portugal was the shortest of the event, with the action centred round four gravel stages in the Serra do Caldeirão hills, north of Faro and a second visit to the Super Special Stage at the Algarve Stadium. The final stage in the Stadium comprised of four laps of a tight and twisty circuit inside the stadium and a faster section through the car park outside.

During Sunday’s first 21.28km stage, Felizes 1, Solberg reported lots of dust spilling into his Ford Focus RS WRC and he had to stop mid-test to clear his screen which cost him over 30 seconds in time. Wilson reported hitting bedrock in SS14 which caused havoc for the young Briton’s steering. However, Solberg suffered more serious problems in SS15 when the alternator belt on his Ford Focus RS WRC snapped and the Norwegian was forced to retire from the rally.

Team-mate Wilson moved up into sixth position as a result of his team-mate’s misfortune and managed to finish the final Super Special Stage second-fastest, just 0.7 seconds off the fastest time set by Federico Villagra.

After the misfortune of Solberg’s retirement on the final day of Rally de Portugal, the Stobart M-Sport Ford Rally Team remain fourth in the Manufacturers’ Championship Standings and the gap between the Cumbrian squads and the Citroen Juniors has now extended to 22 points.

Stobart M-Sport Ford driver Matthew Wilson said:
“Today’s stages were a lot more enjoyable than yesterday. However, there were plenty of places can catch you out so I needed to maintain my concentration to the very end. I hit some bedrock in the second stage of the morning which affected my steering, and it felt like I was physically getting the wheel ripped out of my hands at times. Tyre-wear was such a huge problem in this rally and it was difficult from start to finish – I’m just glad to have made it to the end.”

Stobart M-Sport Ford driver Henning Solberg said:
“It was very disappointing to have had to retire in the closing day here in Portugal. I had a few problems over the weekend but when the car was going well, I made some very fast stage times. Yesterday was a tough day and I had problems with my fuel pressure in the morning which slowed me down a lot. We also experienced many of problems with dust here and in today’s opening stage it was so dusty in the car that we had to stop and wipe the screen.”

Stobart M-Sport Ford Team Principal Malcolm Wilson said:
“We saw a really strong performance from Matthew in Portugal this weekend - it is a very difficult rally and he really deserves his position. He has steadily grown in confidence during the last few WRC rounds and his performance has been consistently good. It was unlucky that Henning had to retire when he was so near to finishing the rally but when he wasn’t suffering from any mechanical problems, he managed to set some really fast stage times.”

S-WRC & J-WRC Reports

Posted: June 1, 2010 9:26 AM

The Citroën C4 WRCs score another triple!

Posted: May 31, 2010 1:51 PM

For the second time this season after Rally Mexico, Citroën scored a triple in a round of the FIA World Rally Championship. Behind Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia, the two Citroën Total World Rally Team crews completed the podium. Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena finished second increasing their lead in the Drivers’ Championship. Thanks to their third place Dani Sordo and Marc Marti helped the team open up a gap over its rivals in the Manufacturers’ title chase.

The third stage of Rally Portugal was much shorter than those of the first two days, but its outcome was much less certain. At dawn, Sébastien Ogier and Sébastien Loeb left the service park separated by only 21.1s. Olivier Quesnel, the Citroën Racing Team Principal, gave the Citroën drivers clear instructions:
“They can fight for victory but they have to stay on the road!”

The day consisted of a loop of two stages to be covered twice and the rally finished with a second run through the super special in the Algarve Stadium. Sébastien Loeb was second on the road and he knew that he had to pull back the maximum number of seconds in the first run. He set the fastest times in SS14 and 15, and the six-time world champion returned to the service park having pared down the gap to 11 seconds! “We had a good run this morning but it’ll be difficult to win the race,” he acknowledged.
“Even though he has to sweep the road, Sébastien is going very quickly and he isn’t making any mistakes. We’re still in with a chance of snatching victory, and as long as that’s the case we’ll continue to push.”

Dani Sordo was fourth at the start of the third leg and he got back up into third after the first two stages of the day: “I didn’t feel at ease in the first stage as there was a lot of dust hanging in the air. In the next one I was able to push hard and I felt good at the wheel. The gap to Petter Solberg is very small and I’ve got to keep up the same pace to score my first podium finish of the season,” said the Spaniard in the service park at midday.

Loeb was again quickest on the second passage through the two gravel stages, but he did not manage to make enough in-roads into Ogier’s lead to go for victory, so he just made sure he held on to second place in the super special: “It was a great, evenly-matched fight. We lost a lot of time sweeping the road on the first day. We never gave up pushing to claw back the time lost but we lacked that little bit of extra speed.

In hindsight, I think that my driving wasn’t aggressive enough. Whatever the case, it was the quickest driver who won today, and our second place is a very positive result as we now have a 38-point lead in the Drivers’ Championship.”

Thanks to Dani Sordo’s third place, Citroën also bagged the full total of points in the Manufacturers’ World Championship, and the gap to the second-placed manufacturer has stretched from 5 to 26 points.

“I’m proud to give this result to the team,” said a breathless Sordo after the finish. “We could have been a bit closer to the two Sébastiens, were it not for a few minor problems, but the most important thing was to score the maximum number of points for Citroën. I’m happy to have finished the first half-season on a high note and I can’t wait to race in the rallies on asphalt.

Frédéric Banzet, director of the Citroën make, was delighted to see the C4 WRCs monopolising the podium :
“I shared Olivier Quesnel’s choice which was a sporting one. We let two great drivers battle for victory and we’ve scored a magnificent result. Sébastien Ogier and the Citroën Junior Team deserved to win a rally after helping the Citroën Total World Rally Team to score victories in other circumstances. Sébastien Loeb’s and Dani Sordo’s second and third places have allowed Citroën to open up a cushion in the Manufacturers’ World Championship so the outcome is very positive.”

First WRC win for Ogier and Ingrassia!

Posted: May 31, 2010 1:49 PM

Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia have taken their first victory in the FIA World Rally Championship at the end of the Rally de Portugal. This great result puts the Citroën Junior Team crew into second place in the World Championship for drivers. Kimi Räikkönen and Kaj Lindström have finished in the points for the third consecutive time.

Having led the Rally de Portugal since the end of SS3, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia started the third and final day of the event with a 21.1-second cushion over Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena.

The Citroën Junior Team crew were once more faced with the onerous task of being first on the road today. Throughout the opening loop of stages, the number 7 Citroën C4 WRC managed to resist the pressure to return to the service park with a 10.1-second advantage over their pursuers.
“We tried not to take any stupid risks this morning,” said the Frenchman at the midday service halt.

“From the start of the rally, we’ve not had any big moments even though we’ve been quite close to the limit. We expected to lose time through being first on the road today. Now we’re going to try to stay in front again this afternoon, but the road conditions should be less of a disadvantage. We all know what Seb is capable of but I’m going to be trying my hardest!” In Felizes 2 (SS16), Sébastien Ogier was able to more or less match the time set by Sébastien Loeb, just dropping 0.6 seconds, and he continued in Loulé 2 (SS17) by losing only 1.8 seconds. By the time he got to the final spectator superspecial the Citroën Junior Team driver still had a lead of 7.7 seconds, allowing him to seal victory over the last two kilometres of the rally in a 30,000 capacity stadium. “ We pushed all the way to the end, ” he said afterwards. “ It’s a huge satisfaction to win. I have to thank the entire team: this is a massive moment for me. We came very close to winning in New Zealand but now we are on the top step of the podium, which has allowed us to move up to second in the World Rally Championship for drivers.”

Kimi Räikkönen and Kaj Lindström continued their progress today despite a scare at the end of the morning. “ We cut a corner and the car went onto two wheels, ” said Kimi. “ We risked rolling, but the car landed back on its wheels and we picked up a puncture. After that, I just wanted to be sure of making the finish. There was nothing more to gain apart from another points finish. All the knowledge we acquired over the weekend will help us to accumulate more experience, which is essential. ”

Citroën Junior Team manager Benoit Nogier concluded:
“ Victory was never an objective for our team but it’s a fantastic gift that fate has bestowed on us here. Sébastien deserved this success as he has driven a fantastic rally since the shakedown. He has seen off the person who is undoubtedly the best rally driver in the world, all the time while running first on the road. This victory does not change the objectives of the Citroën Junior Team though. We’re going to continue down our chosen path so that Sébastien and Kimi can continue to make progress.”

Results

Posted: May 31, 2010 12:57 PM

1 S Ogier/J Ingrassia (Citroen C4 WRC) 3hr 51min 16.1sec
2 S Loeb/D Elena (Citroen C4 WRC) 3hr 51min 24.0sec
3 D Sordo/M Marti (Citroen C4 WRC) 3hr 52min 33.7sec
4 M Hirvonen/J Lehtinen (Ford Focus WRC) 3hr 52min 48.1sec
5 P Solberg/P Mills (Citroen C4 WRC) 3hr 52min 51.8sec
6 M Wilson/S Martin (Ford Focus WRC) 3hr 58min 26.2sec
7 M Østberg/J Andersson (Subaru Impreza WRC) 3hr 58min 44.4sec
8 F Villagra/J Perez Companc (Ford Focus WRC) 4hr 01min 52.2sec
9 K Al Qassimi/M Orr (Ford Focus WRC) 4hr 02min 11.9sec
10 K Räikkönen/K Lindström (Citroen C4 WRC) 4hr 02min 50.4sec

FSTi crews set for Iberian adventure

Posted: May 21, 2010 10:26 PM

The second round of the 2010 Fiesta SportTrophy International (FSTi) series will get underway next week as the competition joins the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) for the Vodafone Rally de Portugal.  This will be the third time that FSTi has visited Portugal and the gravel road surfaces combined with the warm climate will be challenging for the six Fiesta R2 entries and one GpN Fiesta ST.

The FST concept was previously based around the GpN Ford Fiesta ST and, whilst this will remain eligible for FSTi, the primary championship contender is the Fiesta R2.  With a five-speed sequential gearbox, the Ford Fiesta R2 is based on the Ford Fiesta Sport using the 1.6L Ti-Vct 120PS (1598cc) base engine as in regular production.  It is built from a standard conversion kit developed by M-Sport and has taken regular class wins since its launch in 2009.

Since its introduction to the championship in 1967, the Rally de Portugal has always been one of the most popular events on the WRC calendar. The four-day event will feature a total distance of 1223 km, which comprises of 18 special stages covering 355 km in which drivers will face a series of twisty hill sections, with fast blind corners and rough, narrow gravel roads.  The event will begin on Thursday 26 May with the 2.03 km Super Special Stage in the Algarve Stadium in front of an expected 30,000 fans.

Reigning champion Craig Breen (20) and co-driver Gareth Roberts (22) are currently leading the FSTi championship, but the duo have existing commitments to the British Rally Championship and will be competing in their Ford Fiesta S2000 at the Jim Clark Memorial Rally instead.

Harry Hunt (21) and co-driver Sebastian Marshall (21), were the highest overall finisher in their FSTi debut in Turkey, classifying 18th overall but lie second by virtue of Craig Breen’s faster stage times.  Hunt currently lies in fifth position in the FIA Junior World Rally Championship (J-WRC) and will be looking to lay claim to fourth position in Portugal.

Swede Victor Henriksson (22) and co-driver Håkan Palm set a good pace in Round 1 of the championship in Turkey, but failed to classify after Henriksson rolled his Fiesta R2 on the penultimate stage.  He will be on a charge in Portugal to return to his winning ways, after taking victory on his first FSTi event, Wales Rally GB in 2007.

Christian Riedemann (22) will be joining the series for the first time in Portugal.  The young German is in his fifth year of rallying, having won the ADAC Junior Cup in 2009.  This year, Riedemann was keen to progress into the international field and he and his co-driver, Josefine Beinke (17), will face a difficult task as they venture  onto the rough gravel surfaces in their new Fiesta R2, having previously only driven on Tarmac. Riedemann’s main goal will be to finish his debut WRC event, building his experience of the Fiesta R2 on international terrain.

Team Abu Dhabi will resume their FSTi campaign in Portugal, following a successful debut season in 2009.  Bader Al Jabri (25) and co-driver Stephen McAuley had a fantastic season in 2009, finishing third overall in Al Jabri’s second year of rallying.  Having not finished this rally in 2009, Al Jabri will be concentrating on scoring points for a solid finish.  This year, he has competed in two Middle East Rally Championship events (MERC), where he won the N3 class at Qatar International Rally and came fifth on Jordan Rally.

Fellow Team Abu Dhabi competitors, Majed Al Shamsi and co-driver Alan Harryman will make their second attempt to conquer the Rally de Portugal, keen to improve on their performance last year when they rolled their Fiesta ST and were forced to retire on Day 2.    The duo finished sixth overall in the championship in 2009, so will be aiming to improve on that this year. 

Making his FSTi debut in Portugal will be the third member of Team Abu Dhabi, Sultan Al Ameri (25), who will be navigated by co-driver Killian Duffy (23). The young Emirate started rallying in 2007, competing in various Middle Eastern rallies in a Subaru Impreza.  In 2008, he contested in the MERC in a GpN Fiesta ST, but took a break from rallying in 2009.

Portuguese brothers Miguel and co-driver Paulo Monteiro will be the sole entrants driving a Fiesta ST, having last competed in FSTi in Portugal 2007 when they finished in fifth position after a series of punctures and an early retirement.  The duo started rallying in 1996 with a Ford RS 2000 on the Rally de Portugal and moved onto European events in a Ford Ka, as well as leading a successful campaign in a Ford Puma.

FSTi drivers will be competing for an all-expenses-paid test in M-Sport’s Ford Fiesta S2000 with BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team driver and 2009 World Championship runner-up Mikko Hirvonen, with the chance to discuss the test with the flying Finn and M-Sport Managing Director Malcolm Wilson OBE.  A prize fund is also available from which the winner of each rally will receive a €1,500 M-Sport voucher.

As in previous years, the series winner plus one 'wildcard' will be put forward to the FST International Shootout to compete against drivers from other FST championships around the world in order to win a year's contract to work at M-Sport with the BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team.

Of the seven counting rounds, the best points from five rounds will count towards the championship standings. This will allow those drivers who have completed the full season to drop any low scores, but will also assist those drivers who are only able to compete on an event-by-event basis to score highly overall if they achieve good results on an occasional basis.  Scoring for 2010 will be as per FIA scoring, but with one point awarded for each stage win in order to reward drivers for demonstrations of outright pace. 

FSTi competitor Harry Hunt [21] said:

“I’m really looking forward to another WRC round and I hope to carry on the success from Turkey.  I’ve been researching the stages from last year’s footage and they look pretty awesome! I expect the stages will be a lot smoother on the car compared to Turkey, which will be a terrain that is more familiar to me.  I haven’t competed against any of the other FSTi competitors except for Victor [Henriksson], so it will be interesting to see how I can perform against them on this round.”

 

Citroën out for a hat trick in Portugal

Posted: May 21, 2010 10:23 PM

Thanks to their victories in 2007 and 2009, Sébastien Loeb, Daniel Elena and the Citroën C4 WRC are unbeaten in Rally Portugal. On their third outing in this event they are determined to score a hat trick, which will help them to extend their lead in the Drivers’ World Championship. In the Manufacturers’ title chase, the Citroën Total World Rally Team has a 5-point lead over its nearest rival. More than ever, the support of Dani Sordo and Marc Marti will be crucial to make the break before the summer interlude.

Rally Portugal was one of the great events in the World Championship up till 2001. It was reinstated on the calendar four years ago. The rally, now based in the Algarve, enjoys the type of popularity common to south European events. “We love the enthusiasm of the spectators,” smiles Sébastien Loeb. “The region is very pleasant; it’s usually fine and you really feel the people’s love of rallying. What more can you ask for?”

The six-time world champion has won the event on his two participations and he has but a single aim: score his fifty-eight career victory. “I like this rally very much but it’s not all that easy,” explains Seb. “Since the start of the season in each event the stages have had a lot of overcrests; those little humps that prevent us from reading the corners that lie just behind. Portugal will be the pits in this area! Apart from that you can’t say that the rally is a very difficult one. It’s a kind of digest of everything that you’ll find on gravel – wide quick sections, others that are slow and twisty.”

Thanks to his three victories and two podium finishes in five rallies Loeb has a comfortable lead in the world championship. Although he scored his worst result of the season in New Zealand - third (!) – he’s drawn positive conclusions from his trip to the Antipodes. “We arrived in Auckland with a forty-point lead over Petter Solberg and we came home with thirty-six points in hand over Jari-Matti Latvala. Four points lost with one less rally to go is a pretty good operation. This season there are six drivers capable of winning each event. Finishing among the front-runners is good for us for the moment, but it’s not the time to relax.”

For Dani Sordo, Rally Portugal will be another home event: “With Mexico and Spain, it’s a rather special rally for me. The spectators cheer us on more than elsewhere as we’re defending the colours of the Iberian Peninsula! But this doesn’t change the way I’m preparing for the event. I know Citroën is counting on me to score the maximum number of points towards the Manufacturers’’ Championship. As

usual, I’m starting the rally with the aim of finishing on the podium. I came third in my first two outings here; I’d be happy to do just as well this year!”

For this rally, the Citroën Total World Rally Team C4 WRCs will carry the colours of the road safety campaign, Make roads safe, set up by the FIA and backed by Citroën Racing and its crews.

 

Three questions to Frédéric Banzet Citroën general manager

After the first five rallies of the season, how would you describe the performance of Citroën and its drivers?

“Thanks to their three victories, Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena are leading the Drivers’ World Championship while Citroën is first in the manufacturers’ one, so it’s all very positive. Even though we didn’t win, I found the battle in the New Zealand rally was very exciting to follow. This season is very indecisive and above all, we must never let up. We’ve only got a five-point lead in the manufacturers’ championship so that shows how close our battle is with our rival. I’d like to say bravo to Dani Sordo, Sébastien Ogier’s progress and Kimi Raïkkönen’s courage. Our four crews are really grandstanding the Citroën colours.”

Citroën’s involvement in the WRC seems to be pretty solid. Why?

« Throughout its history the make’s been involved in road-going sporting adventures. Today, rallying is part of Citroën’s DNA and the WRC is the pinnacle of this sport. It’s run on a worldwide basis in the best sense of the word, and it’s in phase with our image. For an innovative manufacturer like Citroën involved in on-going research for new technologies, rallying is an ideal showcase. Each of our victories all over the world demonstrates the values of creative technology.”

You will be present at the Portuguese Rally? What does this event represent for Citroën?

“First and foremost, it is an important commercial market as Citroën is among the leaders in terms of private vehicle sales and leads the utility vehicle section. Our volume of sales for private vehicles has gone up by more than 19% from the start of the year to the end of April. The Portuguese Rally is one of the historic events in the world championship. Far from hanging on to the past, the organizers are doing a great job in terms of promotion. Everything’s being done for the spectators beginning with the super special in the Algarve stadium. Citroën, its branches and its partners are taking advantage of this event to put on public relations operations. We’ll have a lot of people supporting the team and its drivers next weekend!”

The Citroën Junior Team on familiar ground

Posted: May 21, 2010 10:17 PM

After the long trip to New Zealand, the World Rally Championship gets back to European soil this weekend. The Rallye de Portugal, round six of the season, will be an excellent opportunity for Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia to underline their recent strong performances. Kimi Räikkönen and Kaj Lindström have not done a rally for a month now, but they will aim to continue their progress with the Citroen C4 WRC.

Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia are continuing their march towards the very top level of world rallying. The duo reached the second step of the podium for the first time on the 2009 Acropolis Rally, and secured a similar result in New Zealand two weeks ago. “Our initial programme didn’t actually even include this round,” said Sébastien. “I have to thank the entire team for making it possible for us to enter New Zealand – particularly because we obtained a result there that surpassed expectations. It’s a very good sign for the future; we’ve felt confident since the start of the season and just got quicker and quicker. For our first trip to New Zealand it was an excellent performance, and we really enjoyed driving the Citroën C4 WRC on those stages. ”

The Citroën Junior Team driver starts the Rallye de Portugal lying fourth in the World Championship standings and his objectives remain unchanged. “We’re going to stick with the same plan we’ve had since the beginning of the season,” added Sébastien. “Even though this is a rally that I know a bit about already, we need to make sure that there are no mistakes in Portugal and that we rack up the kilometres. It will be a great achievement if we can fight for a podium again. Starting the first day fourth on the road should be quite a good position for us.”

New Zealand did not form part of the scheduled programme for Kimi Räikkönen and Kaj Lindström, who return to the Citroën C4 WRC in Portugal. The former F1 World Champion will continue learning how to drive a WRC challenger on gravel over the demanding Portuguese stages. Having retired in Mexico, finished eighth in Jordan and claimed fifth in Turkey, the 30-year-old Finn will have to get to grips with another new event for him in Portugal, one of the classic rounds of the World Rally Championship.

“The short break did me a lot of good,” said Kimi. “We were able to sit down and analyse our start to the season, concentrating on specific details such as making pace notes and comparing our times to those of the frontrunners. A few kilometres of testing also meant that I was able to quickly get back up to speed in

the car. I know that we still have a lot to learn because rallying remains a completely new sport for me, but I feel that we are making consistent progress.”

In Portugal, for his fifth event at the wheel of the Citroën C4 WRC, Kimi Räikkönen is also retaining the same targets. “I said from the very start that it was just a question of learning,” he pointed out. “We need to have everything in hand before trying to accelerate and chase the leaders. So it is necessary for us to get more and more experience. That’s going to be our goal in Portugal once more.”

In order to prepare for round five of the season, both drivers took part in a gravel test session in eastern France at the end of this week.

 

Three questions to... Benoit Nogier Citroën Junior Team Manager

Let’s look back at the trip to New Zealand... adding this event to Sébastien Ogier’s programme certainly worked out well!

“New Zealand was a great experience for the entire team. Once again, Sébastien was extremely happy with the car. He pushed hard from start to finish, don’t forget, without anybody at all telling him what to do. He was constantly flat-out, and I hope he keeps that feeling within him. It’s the first time that he has been forced to push that hard all the way to the finish. He’ll need to remember that whole experience in order to do it again in the future!”

Since the start of the season, none of the Citroën Junior Team C4 WRCs have experienced any mechanical problems. That must be a huge source of satisfaction for a Team Manager?

“It’s just down to the hard work of all the team over several months. Citroën Racing’s design office has produced the best World Rally Car and we are doing everything we can to make the most of it. From the people who prepare the spare parts package to the engineers who analyse data during the debriefs, it’s a long-term job that has allowed us to enjoy this high degree of reliability. We take a huge amount of care when it comes to the preparation of our two cars and our drivers benefit from that. This rigour and discipline in our working practices means that we are right up there and able to score the sort of results that everyone has seen so far this year.”

Algarve adventure awaits Argentinean aces

Posted: May 21, 2010 3:12 PM

The Munchis Ford World Rally Team will travel to the sixth round of the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) next week where they aim to secure their fifth consecutive points finish in the 44th edition of the Vodafone Rally de Portugal. 

After a year in the Intercontinental Rally Challenge schedule, the extremely popular Rally de Portugal returned to the WRC calendar last year. This years event features a minor revision to stages from 2009 but will be set in the same surroundings of Faro, the scenic capital of Algarve.

Federico Villagra and co-driver, Jorge Pérez Companc, will tackle 355.32km of competitive distance over 18 testing stages in their Ford Focus RS WRC - the Argentinean Rally Champions will be looking to improve on their steady performance from last years rally when they finished in seventh position overall. The duo will face a series of twisty hill sections, with fast blind corners and narrow sections but after a series of tough WRC rounds in 2010 so far, they will be well prepared for some technical stages.

With mild weather expected next week, the tests will be very dry and should provide all competitors with testing conditions.  The loose gravel on the road surface will hold an early disadvantage for those drivers first on the stage who were forced to sweep the gravel from the road.

This will be the first gravel event on European soil and the event will undoubtedly test the Munchis team with the fast, hard-packed surface.  Forecast weather conditions are set for sunshine but with an average temperature of 50 degrees Celsius in the cock pit, this could prove difficult for the duo who will be forced to cope with extreme heat in their Ford Focus RS WRC.

The four-day event will officially begin with a drivers parade at the Algarve Stadium on the Thursday evening followed by a short 2.03km tarmac Super Special Stage where cars will compete side-by-side.  The newly constructed stadium has a capacity of 30,300 and the expected crowds will provide a fantastic atmosphere for the busiest WRC round in the calendar so far; this years Vodafone Rally de Portugal has an impressive 75 entries from 33 countries.

There will be a few tweaks to this years stages as they feature some new starts or finishes, but the main difference from 2009 will be the days opening Santa Clara stage (SS2 and SS6), which is now run in reverse.  The final day of Rally de Portugal is the shortest and will feature four all-gravel stages, with the only difference to last years route being on the Felizes 21.28km stage (SS14 and SS16) which has a new 3.11km finish.  The rally will finish with another stage round the 2.03km tarmac stage round the Algarve Stadium.

The Munchis Ford World Rally Team will be aiming to replicate the consistency it has delivered thus far in the 2010 season and leave the sixth round of the WRC with a fifth consecutive points finish in order to enhance its position in the championship table.

Munchis Ford WRT driver Federico Villagra said: 

Last time I was in Portugal it was a good rally for me but the rally is difficult with a lot of technical stages.  We werent able to find the right speed and I had to drive slower than I wanted to but I am hoping that this year I will be able to find the right rhythm early on.  I feel like I am steadily improving this year and have made no major mistakes so I just look forward to another steady performance in Portugal."

Ford Fiesta S2000 crews fight for Portugese podium finish

Posted: May 21, 2010 3:11 PM

Six Ford Fiesta Super 2000 cars will make their way to Portugal next week where four of the crews will take part in the fifth round of the Super World Rally Championship category (S-WRC).  Series leader, Spaniard Xevi Pons, will aim to hold onto his current lead but will face tough challenge, especially from Finnish Jari Ketomaa who won his first S-WRC round in New Zealand earlier this month.

This years Vodafone Rally de Portugal is in its 44th year and is renowned for warm sunny weather, making it a hotspot for rally fans from all over the world. Spectator numbers are expected to be high and the super special stages and service park will be based in the Algarve Stadium just north of the regional capital, Faro.

The previous WRC round in New Zealand saw a clean sweep of podium finishes for the Fiesta S2000s in the S-WRC category with Jari Ketomaa beating stiff competition from Xevi Pons, Martin Prokop and Janne Tuohini. The Fiesta S2000 has now won the opening three rounds of the category and Pons continues to lead the championship overall.

Seven Ford Fiesta S2000 crews will tackle 355.32km of competitive distance over 18 testing stages and with mild weather expected next week, the stages should be dry and provide all S-WRC competitors with a level playing field.  

This will be the first all-gravel event on European soil and the event will test its competitors with the fast, hard-packed surfaces.  Forecast weather conditions are set for sunshine, with blue skies but the warm climate could prove difficult for the S-WRC drivers as temperatures inside their Fiesta S2000 cars could reach levels of over 40 degrees Celsius. 

The four-day event will officially begin with a drivers parade at the Algarve football stadium on the Thursday evening followed by a short 2.03km tarmac Super Special Stage where crews will compete side-by-side.  The newly constructed stadium has a seating capacity of over 20,000 so large crowds are expected to attend the exciting opening stage.

There will be a few tweaks to this years stages as they feature some new starts or finishes, but the main difference from 2009 will be the days opening Santa Clara stage (SS2 and SS6), which is now run in reverse.  The final day of Rally de Portugal is the shortest and will feature four all-gravel stages, with the only difference to last years route being on the Felizes 21.28km stage (SS14 and SS16) which has a new 3.11km finish.  The S-WRC round will finish with another stage round the 2.03km tarmac stage round the Algarve Stadium.

Xevi Pons said:

For me, this is the first time I have been at Rally de Portugal.  It is a new rally for me but in 2007, I did do a recce of some of the stages so I know what to expect a little.  I think it will be a very difficult rally the stages are narrow with several crests.  Even though this event will not be easy, I am still feeling confident.  I feel like I have been improving after each rally and when I compare how I felt in the car when I competed in Mexico at the start of the year, there is a huge difference. I look forward to next week.

Bernardo Sousa said:

Rally de Portugal has always been hard for me as there is added pressure because it is our home rally. For me, all the rallies are the same in that I aim to get to the finish.  This will be a hard round because I will be competing in the Portugese National Rally too every day you get a score, so I cannot take any risks which could result in a retirement. I think this rally has some of the most beautiful stages in the championship as it has a little bit of everything.  It will be a very hard rally for everyone but it is really important that I do well in this so I will push my hardest.

Janne Tuohini said:

I competed in Rally Portugal in 2006 and ended up finishing second overall so it was a good rally for me.  I didnt manage to get any points in Jordan or New Zealand as I had some problems with the car and the stages so it is very important that I can do better in Portugal next week.  The M-Sport team have been working very hard to get my car sorted for the rally next week as its been such a tight turn around between New Zealand and Portugal but everything is on track so that is good.  This time I really hope we can win.

Jari Ketomaa said: 

Portugal is a new rally for me so I dont know what to expect from the stages.  But I have seen footage on the TV from previous year and it doesnt look too bad and the roads seem like they are quite wide some of the time.  If the roads remain dry then I will be able to pick up my speed on some of the sections.  I plan to take the rally step by step I will see what the competition and pace is like from the beginning and then I will decide the best strategy but as always I will fight from the start.

Dennis Kuipers said:

This will be my second time in Portugal and I am looking forward to going back again this year.  We had a few technical problems last year so we only completed two days but I am happy to have completed some of the stages so they will not all be new to me. The stages in Portugal are not easy there are a lot of corners which makes it very difficult to get a good rhythm going.  We might also have problems with the dust as I think it has been very dry out there recently.

M-Sport Managing Director Malcolm Wilson said:

The Vodafone Rally de Portugal has been the most popular event in the S-WRC category this season - it will be an interesting round to see what will happen with so many talented drivers. We were delighted with the Ford Fiesta S2000 clean sweep podium finish in New Zealand so I really hope there will be a similar end result in the Algarve. There is little doubt that it will be another exciting round for the S-WRC competitors. 

Stobart Push for Portugal Points

Posted: May 21, 2010 1:03 PM

The Stobart M-Sport Ford World Rally Team will be pushing to move into a podium position in the Manufacturers championship standings when it competes in the 44th edition of the Vodafone Rally de Portugal next week.

The Cumbrian team is currently one point from taking third position in the FIA World Rally Championship Manufacturers Championship, and its two Ford Focus RS WRC crews of Matthew Wilson/Scott Martin and Henning Solberg/Ilka Minor will travel to the Algarve region aiming to secure enough points to put Stobart into the slipstream of the two factory outfits at the head of the table.

The Rally de Portugal has previously been action-packed for the green team.  In 2009s edition, Solberg got off to a flying start and led his first WRC event after a fantastic opening Super Special Stage.  The Norwegian went on to finish the rally in fifth position overall.  Wilson was less lucky, as he was forced to retire in the penultimate stage when he slid off the road and rolled his Ford Focus RS WRC.

Portugal is a country with a long rallying tradition. The first Portuguese round of the WRC was introduced in 1973, and over the next 29 years it went on to become a notoriously difficult but extremely popular rally.  This years event holds the record for the most number of starts the 2010 WRC season so far - with 75 entries from 33 countries worldwide.  

The four-day event will kick off with a ceremonial start at the Algarve Stadium on the Thursday evening, followed by a short 2.03km tarmac Super Special Stage where cars will compete side-by-side.  The car park in front of the stadium is the team base and is only 8km from Faro airport, making it a very convenient event for the teams, media and spectators to get close to the action. The recently-constructed stadium can seat a maximum capacity of 30,000 people, and huge crowds are expected to pack the stands during the event.

This years Rally de Portugal comprises of 18 special stages covering 355.32km, with a spectacular selection of gravel stages in the Algarve and Alentego regions in the north.  With mild weather expected next week, the stages will be dry with fast hard-packed surface, providing all competitors with a testing event for the front-runners.

Dust, however, could provide a big part in the proceedings as crews will struggle in the poor visibility and concentration levels will be pushed to the limit by the varying pace of the stages high in the hills above the Portuguese tourist resort of Faro.  Moreover, the high average temperature of could prove troublesome for the Stobart crews, as they will be forced to cope with extremely hot conditions inside their Ford Focus RS WRCs.

Day one consists of a series of six stages north-west of the service park in Algarve Stadium totalling 130.61km.  There will be a few tweaks to the route featuring some new starts or finishes, but the main difference from 2009 will be the days opening Santa Clara stage (SS2 and SS6), will now run in reverse.  

The second full day is the longest in the rally and comprises of 135.10km of competitive distance covering six gravel stages north of the service park, including a repeat loop of the rallys longest stage, 26.20km Almodovar (SS8 and SS11), which kicks off the morning and afternoon loop. 

The final day of Rally de Portugal will feature four all-gravel stages, with the only difference to last years route being on the Felizes 21.28km stage (SS14 and SS16) which has a new 3.11km finish.  The rally will finish with another stage round the 2.03km tarmac stage round the Algarve Stadium.

Stobart M-Sport Ford driver Matthew Wilson said:

Im really looking forward to going back to Portugal.  My stage times were good in this rally last year and we are keen to keep the momentum going from New Zealand earlier this month.  The stages will be harder on the car than New Zealand and the amount of dust from the dry weather recently could be a potential problem. There is always a huge buzz at Rally de Portugal and the super special stages in the Algarve Stadium provide a fantastic atmosphere as there are huge crowds.

Stobart M-Sport Ford driver Henning Solberg said:

I had some problems with handling over in New Zealand but everything should be sorted for Portugal.  The rally has some very nice stages but I think the good weather there recently might have made some of the stages very dusty, which could be a problem.  As always I will work my hardest to get points for the team.

Stobart M-Sport Ford team principal Malcolm Wilson said:

The Stobart M-Sport Ford team have been doing well this season and I hope that they can close the gap on the Manufacturers Championship Table when they go to Portugal next week.  Matthews times have been steadily improving throughout the season and his confidence is high.  Henning has been quite unlucky during the last two WRC rounds but he did well in Portugal last year so I think he will improve his times greatly in this round. Hopefully both of our drivers can produce another good performance and strengthen their impressive positions in the Championship.

Ford plans to prosper in Portugal's abrasive Algarve hills

Posted: May 21, 2010 11:21 AM

The record-breaking BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team will aim to end the opening half of the FIA World Rally Championship season on a high note in Portugal next week.  Victory in New Zealand earlier this month was Ford's 75th WRC success.  Not only did it make the company the most successful manufacturer in the championship's history, but it also moved the squad to within five points of the lead in the 2010 standings.  

Rally de Portugal (27 - 30 May) is the last of a cluster of five gravel rounds before the season switches to asphalt in July after the mid-season break.  Following their New Zealand win, Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila lie second in the drivers' points table in their Ford Focus RS World Rally Car.  Team-mates and fellow Finns Mikko Hirvonen and Jarmo Lehtinen are third, eight points behind.

This sixth round of the series has a long history.  Traditionally based on the west coast, in 2006 the rally was reborn in the Algarve holiday region in the south, with Faro as the base.  The competition takes place in the hills above the town, blending fast, open roads with more technical sections on hard and abrasive tracks.  The rally takes place two months later this year, with the prospect of higher temperatures, drier conditions and plenty of slippery loose gravel on the road surface.

This will be Hirvonen's third start in Portugal and the 29-year-old finished second last year.  "It's a medium-fast rally and quite technical with plenty of corners over crests, so it's important to be precise with both pace notes and driving lines.  Conditions look as if they will be hot and dry and that will be tough for the tyres. The roads have a hard base and on the second pass, once the loose stones have been swept away, the grip will be good, but abrasive, so we'll have to manage our tyres well," he said.  

"New Zealand was disappointing for me and I need to rediscover my speed.  I'm not even thinking about championship positions at the moment, I just want to go to Portugal and drive at the speed that I know I can.  I've thought a lot about why I wasn't as quick as I had hoped in New Zealand and I believe I was simply pushing too hard.  My mistakes came through attacking too much, so I plan to be a little less aggressive and try to let my driving flow normally," added Hirvonen.  

Latvala is also competing in Portugal for the third time and the 25-year-old is full of confidence after his win in New Zealand.  "I've developed a completely different attitude to my driving this season in my job as number two in the team.  That role has helped me to understand the sport better.  It's not only about being fastest, it's just as important for a driver to be consistent and finish rallies to fight for the title.  It's working well, but I'm not 100 per cent there yet and I need to keep working," he said.

Latvala crashed out of the 2009 rally in spectacular fashion, when his Focus RS WRC rolled more than 150 metres down a hillside in an incident which has been viewed nearly 800,000 times on the YouTube video sharing website.  "That stage will be used again this year and when I drive through it during the recce I will slow down and take a quick look where we went off.  I will be changing my pace notes for that corner!  But I've put the crash behind me and I won't treat that stage any differently in the rally itself," he added. 

Khalid Al Qassimi and Michael Orr will drive a third Focus RS WRC for the team, returning to the championship for the first time since the opening round in Sweden.  "I have been competing for Team Abu Dhabi in all rounds of the FIA Middle East Rally Championship for the last few months, so I am hopeful that the extra time behind the wheel on tough gravel and sand conditions will help give me an edge at Rally de Portugal.  Last year Michael and I finished eighth and I am confident that I can either replicate or better that result this time round," said Al Qassimi.   

Team News 

* Tyre partner Pirelli will provide BP Ford Abu Dhabi with one regulation tyre pattern.  The Scorpion gravel tyre will be available in hard compound only.  Teams are not allowed to hand-carve additional cuts into the rubber and each car can carry two spare wheels.  

* Six other Focus RS WRCs are entered.  Henning Solberg / Ilka Minor and Matthew Wilson / Scott Martin are nominated by the Stobart M-Sport Ford team, while Federico Villagra / Jorge Perez Companc will drive for the Munchi's Ford squad.  Monster World Rally Team has entered Ken Block / Alex Gelsomino and there are also privately-entered cars for Rene Kuipers / Erwin Berkhof and Laurent Carbonaro / Thierry Leon.  The rally is the fifth round of the S-WRC support championship and five registered Ford Fiesta S2000 cars are entered, headed by leaders Xevi Pons / Alex Haro.  It is also the second round of the Fiesta SportTrophy International, with six R2 and one ST models due to start.  Twenty-four of the 75 entrants are competing in Ford cars, 31 per cent of the entry.

* The team's Focus RS WRCs will carry logos supporting the FIA Foundation's Make Roads Safe campaign.  The Foundation is calling for action to stop thousands of preventable deaths and injuries on the world's roads and earlier this year the United Nations approved a Decade of Action for Road Safety from 2011-2020.  The logos will remain on the cars for the rest of the WRC season.  Information on the campaign can be found at http://www.makeroadssafe.org/

* Hirvonen tested a Focus RS WRC on asphalt for three days in England last week.  The development session ahead of the four sealed-surface rounds of the championship in the second half of the season, was based at the Millbrook testing venue, in the south of the country.  

* Hirvonen and Lehtinen will attend the UEFA Champions League final between Bayern Munich and Inter Milan at Madrid's Bernabeu Stadium tomorrow (Saturday) night.  Ford is the longest-serving official partner of Europe's most prestigious club football competition.

1993 WRC Champions Together

Posted: May 20, 2010 7:11 PM

This year’s Vodafone Rally de Portugal, 27-30 May, has an extra treat in store for spectators. On day two and three of the WRC rally, there will be an addition with the Rallye de Portugal Revival, run for the first time. This is a mini event, sharing the same service park, as the main WRC competitors, for classic two wheeled cars built before December 1981, will be run on the same stages as the WRC. Entering in the inaugural event, are two former team mates, co-driver Nicky Grist and driver Juha Kankkunen, driving a MkII Ford Escort.

Winners of the 1993 WRC, Nicky and Juha last competed together in The Rally Finland of 1996, where they finished second.

“It will be great to be back with Juha, after all this time” commented Nicky “The last time we won this rally together was in 1994, and the superspecial at the Algarve Stadium will be an exciting start to the Rally Revival”

Nicky and Juha competed in the WRC together between 1993 and 1996 for the Toyota Castrol team. In 1997 Nicky joined with Colin McRae, in the Subaru World team, while Juha took the place of Armin Schwarz, in the Ford Motor Company, supporting Carlos Sainz in his bid for the championship.


Final Entry List available

Posted: May 18, 2010 7:08 PM

Draft Entry List

Posted: May 2, 2010 7:04 PM

Rallye de Portugal Revival: classics take to the stages!

Posted: May 2, 2010 7:00 PM

Spectators visiting the stages on the second and third days of this year’s Vodafone Rally de Portugal have even more of a treat in store, as the event's organizers have added a new and exciting attraction to the Portuguese round of the 2010 World Rally Championship.

This year will see the first running of Rallye de Portugal Revival, a mini-event for classic two-wheel drive cars built before 1982. Running on the same stages as the WRC competitors but between the first and second runs of each stage, this innovation provides yet another attraction for the huge crowds of rally fans.

Around 20 competitors are expected to enter Rally de Portugal Revival - the time interval between the last car on the first loop and the first car on the second run means a limit of 20 cars. The Rally de Portugal Revival will see the cream of Portuguese classic drivers compete against a selection of international drivers in cars such as the venerable Ford Escort RS and the amazing Lancia Stratos, cars that helped shape the sport of rallying.

Scrutineering will take place on Thursday May 27th, the same day as shakedown for the WRC runners and the Rally de Portugal Revival will begin on the first superspecial stage, at the Algarve Stadium, just before the WRC competitors.

Friday, May 28th, will be dedicated to the recce and on the second day of the rally, Saturday May 29th, from 9.55am, competitors will compete once on each of the Almodôvar, Vascão and S. Brás de Alportel stages. The third rally day will start at 7.50am, with the Felizes and Loulé stages before finishing with the last superspecial stage, again just before the WRC competitors.

Rallye de Portugal Revival will be an innovative and exciting addition to what has always been one of the most popular events in the calendar.

Rally Guide 1 Available

Posted: February 26, 2010 1:52 PM

Event Website / Details

Posted: January 1, 2010 12:01 AM

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