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Italy (S,A) - 5-8 May 11

Posted: September 13, 2011 11:07 AM - 4454 Hits

Round 5 - 2011 World Rally Championship
S - S2000 Championship
A - Academy

Battle Scarred Breen Survives Sardinia

Posted: September 13, 2011 11:07 AM

Little more and, Irish rally driver Craig Breen would have had to carry his Fiesta R2 back to Olbia and the finish of Rally Sardinia this evening. Seventh overall, four fastest stage times, retirement on day one, SupeRally, rear hub failure and this is just the tip of the iceberg as round two of the FIA WRC Academy turned into a war of attrition in the Mediterranean. “What more do I have to do? Caught in dust on SS13, rear hub failure on SS14, dropped back to 7th BUT, made it back to the finish!” were the words from the 21-year-old year as he exited his battle- scarred machine after two grueling days on the Italian Island.

Victory can give true sense of elation but there are times when grinning out a result is even more character building. Craig’s preparation for round two of the FIA WRC Academy had been meticulous. Three good results since round one in Portugal, including an excellent performance last weekend at the Pirelli International in the UK. All looked to be falling in to place for a good attack on the Sardinian stages.

This was reinforced as the times started to flow in on Friday morning as the event got underway. Craig immediately picked up where he left off in the Algarve by setting fastest time on the first stage. On that opener, Lago Omodeo stage (10.21km) Craig was 2.2 seconds faster than his nearest rival Brendan Reeves (AUS) and 3.6 faster than Victor Henriksson (SWE) in third. The Irish ace then backed that up by claiming fastest on stage two Monte Grighini (21.32 km) extending his advantage to 6 seconds over Henriksson, who moved in to second overall as Reeves dropped to third 15.2 back.

On stage three it was Henriksson who topped the time sheets and moved back to within 2.9 of Craig. Breen was second fastest on the test with only one more stage remaining before the midday service. On that final stage in the morning loop Craig fell victim to a rock that had been exposed by the front runners. The offending hazard ruptured the sump on his Fiesta R2 immediately sending him into retirement for the day. Including rally leader Breen, a total of six crews suffered the same fate on that dreaded stage four. Victor Henriksson who was trailing Craig in second place, Dutch driver Timo van der Marel, Matteo Brunello, Andrea Crugnola and Yeray Lemes all saw their rally come to a premature end.

Craig was devastated,
“I have worked hard during the intervening time since round one in Portugal. Good results on build up events in the UK and Ireland, together with my physical training and this week our recce was very precise due to the nature of the stages, to end the day like this is very disappointing, our only option now is SupeRally tomorrow and set some fastest stage times.”

After taking Friday evening to recompose, a fully focused Breen emerged on Saturday morning and with a repaired R2, the Irishman was back setting fastest class times again. After starting the day in eighth position he was after gaining three places by the midday service and with only three stages remaining, a haul of 10 points looked on the cards from his fifth position. There was another sting in the tail however as on stage 13, Craig looked on course to set another fastest time but as he reeled in the competitor he was hampered by the trailing dust; Craig reported, “There was at least 40 seconds dropped as a result. On to the last stage and only a few kilometres in when Craig saw a flash in his door mirror and felt a jolt from the rear of the car. Then to his amazement he spotted one of his rear wheels had sheered off. With the car pulling to one side the Irish/Welsh crew were left to nurse the car to the end of the stage and hope they could get the ailing Ford Fiesta back to the finish. After exiting the stage and dropping over three minutes they accessed the damage and with determination of true champions got the car back to Olbia.

At the finish Craig stated,
“This has been one of the most demanding events I’ve ever competed on. I was gutted yesterday when we stopped on stage four; SupeRally today gave us the opportunity to regain some more points. Then this evening over the last two stages, getting caught in dust on (stage) 13 and rear hub failure on the last (stage) it was just unbelievable but there was no way we weren’t going to make the finish. We have a break now in the championship until July and round three in Finland. WRC Finland will mark the midway point in the season and scoring maximum points there will be very important.”

Fisher positive despite early exit in Sardinia

Posted: September 12, 2011 2:20 PM

Alastair Fisher plans to turn his retirement from Rally d’Italia Sardegna into a positive ahead of the next round of the FIA WRC Academy in Finland in late July.
Fisher, from Trillick in County Tyrone, stopped on the opening stage of the challenging gravel event on Friday morning when an oil pipe in his Ford Fiesta R2 worked loose. After experiencing a drop in oil pressure, Fisher took the wise decision to stop on the stage to prevent his car’s engine from suffering any lasting damage.

“We pulled in to find out what was wrong but when we realised there was a leak around the oil cooler which had resulted in a major loss of oil, we knew it would be better to stop than risk the engine,” said Fisher, who is co-driven by Burnley, Lancashire-based Daniel Barritt.

He continued: “We were only about six kilometres into the stage so it’s very frustrating to stop so early and to not get experience and cover all the stages, but these things can happen in rallying and we have to move on from this and look to the next event.”

Fisher had arrived in Sardinia as one of the favourites for victory in the WRC Academy following his impressive performance on Rally of Portugal in late March. He considered restarting on day two under SupeRally regulations but following further technical inspections of his car the decision was taken not to continue.

“Bonus points for each fastest stage time gave us an incentive to go back out, but the engineers identified a small problem with the engine so that’s it for us on this event unfortunately,” said Fisher.

Next stop on Fisher’s schedule for 2011 is Neste Oil Rally Finland from July 28-30. The highspeed gravel event is the fastest on the world championship calendar due to the long straights and flat-out crests. “It’s the event all drivers want to do so we’ve got to focus on that and do the best we can,” said Fisher. “Not scoring points in Sardinia is a big disappointment but there are still four events remaining and plenty of opportunity to score points and build my experience of competing in the world championship.”

Before Finland Fisher will complete his Honours Degree in Construction, Engineering and Management at the University of Ulster in Jordanstown, Belfast. Fisher is one of 18 of the sport’s most promising young drivers contesting the new-for-2011 FIA WRC Academy. All competitors use identical Ford Fiesta R2s on control Pirelli tyres. A scholarship of 500,000 Euros will be awarded to the champion.


Posted: September 12, 2011 2:19 PM

The second round of the Pirelli-supported FIA WRC Academy concluded in Sardinia on Saturday evening with a second win for Egon Kaur. The Estonian is one of 18 rising talents contesting the new-for-2011 young driver training series in identical Ford Fiesta R2s, which use Pirelli control tyres.

On the all-gravel Rally d’Italia Sardegna, all Academy runners, including Kaur, found the demanding rock-strewn gravel roads a tough challenge. But the Pirelli Scorpion K4 tyres passed the test with flying colours with only one tyre failure reported throughout the event.

The gravel roads of Sardinia are notoriously tough on cars. Because the Academy drivers had to follow in the path of a number of four-wheel drive machines, which churned the roads and made the conditions worse, the Academy runners faced an even greater test.
Pirelli Star Driver Brendan Reeves, from Australia, said:
“The conditions were very tough but the tyres held up really well. It was really loose out there but the grip the tyres gave was fantastic.”

Irishman Craig Breen, another one of the six Pirelli Star Drivers in action in Sardinia, added:
“The ambient and ground temperatures really soared today. There are a lot of downhill sections, but even with the heat and the engine braking, the tyres performed perfectly. I thought I would have to consider how to look after my tyres in these conditions but it wasn’t a problem at all.”

Such was the tough nature of the event that only five of the 18 starters completed the opening day’s stages. Egon Kaur, who won the inaugural WRC Academy event in Portugal, lost four minutes when he went off the road on stage two. But he recovered and demonstrated his fighting qualities by clinching victory ahead of Argentine Miguel Baldoni and Swede Fredrik Ahlin, a Pirelli Star Driver.

“To not only win the first two rounds of the Academy but to win today after losing four minutes yesterday is amazing,” said Kaur. “It was tricky out there but you just have to take it steady. The tyres have been excellent, I’ve felt confident and quick on them all weekend.”

Paul Hembery, Pirelli’s motorsport director, said:
“This is our home rally so we are delighted that the tyres performed so well for the Academy drivers. They had many challenges facing them this weekend, with lots to learn, but it seems that they looked after the tyres, and the tyres looked after them!

“Our congratulations go out to all the drivers for taking on the extremely difficult challenge but continuing so professionally. Egon Kaur’s victory just shows that with confidence and determination you can still go on to win.”

The next event for the Pirelli-supplied WRC Academy will be Neste Oil Rally Finland from July 28-30.

Hirvonen takes second in Italy as Ford delivers powerful finish

Posted: September 12, 2011 2:18 PM

Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team drivers Mikko Hirvonen and Jarmo Lehtinen finished second in Rally Italia Sardegna today to maintain their strong challenge in the FIA World Rally Championship. Their Fiesta RS World Rally Car finished just 11.2sec from the lead, despite dropping more than 50sec during Friday's opening leg when Hirvonen hit a bank and punctured a tyre.

Team-mates Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila finished 18th in a Fiesta RS WRC. The Finns fell out of contention on Friday's opening speed test when they went off the road after a pace note error and retired. However, they returned under SupeRally rules and displayed blistering speed yesterday to climb back from 54th with five special stage wins out of six.

Hirvonen and Latvala claimed maximum bonus points in the rally's final live television Power Stage today. Hirvonen was fastest from Latvala, to claim three and two points respectively. The Ford Abu Dhabi pairings won 11 of the rally's 18 stages, as Latvala claimed seven victories and Hirvonen four.

Hirvonen remains second in the drivers' standings, just seven points from the lead, after five of 13 rounds. Latvala lies fourth and Ford Abu Dhabi is second in the manufacturers' table.

The rocky gravel roads on the sun-kissed Mediterranean island made this a rally of attrition. More than half the 63 starters retired during the opening leg, based near the west coast town of Oristano. The retirement rate eased during the final two days, near the rally base in Olbia in the north-east of the island, as drivers tackled a total of 18 stages covering 339.70km.

Hirvonen was challenging for the lead on Friday until he hit an earth bank and punctured the rear right tyre. He ended the leg in third and closed in on the lead again yesterday as he climbed to second. However, the gap was too big to chase victory over today's final four stages covering 65.58km, and the 30-year-old Finn concentrated on successfully fending off two challengers for second place and targeting the bonus points available on the last stage.

He was helped when organisers handed him a 4.5sec boost after correcting a wrong time from yesterday's second stage.

"Second was a strong finish and I'm delighted with the bonus points," Hirvonen said. "I had a good rhythm throughout the stage. I lost 50 seconds after a mistake in the opening leg and if it hadn't been for that, I think I could have won this rally. I was happy with my speed throughout the weekend and I feel increasingly confident with the Fiesta RS WRC with every event."

Latvala was ruled out of contention for a good result after his first stage accident when Anttila misread a pace note – a mistake Latvala was quick to forgive. However, the 26-year-old Finn showed just what could have been when he was fastest overall in both the second and third legs.

"When my chances of a good overall result were gone, I decided to focus on taking bonus points from the Power Stage," he said. "At the service before the stage I decided to take only one spare wheel, and I removed the tools that we normally carry in the car to save weight. We saved about 40kg. After setting a fast time it was exciting watching to see if anyone could beat me. If anyone had to beat me, then I'm glad it was Mikko.

"Conditions were slippery this morning and although I won the opening two stages, I was too close to the mountainside in places, so I decided to calm down! The car was very fast and reliable all weekend and I'm already looking forward to the next round in Argentina," he added.

Khalid Al Qassimi and Michael Orr finished 12th in the team's other Fiesta RS WRC, scoring solid manufacturers' points for Team Abu Dhabi. "It was an incredibly tough rally. It's so easy to clip a rock and damage the car. Sometimes I was too fast and sometimes too cautious and it was a difficult job trying to find the right balance with the car," said Al Qassimi.

Ford Abu Dhabi team director Malcolm Wilson was delighted with the pace shown by both drivers. "We won 11 of the 18 stages and I believe we were the fastest car / driver package," he said. "The Power Stage result was some consolation for not winning the rally outright. It was frustrating that Mikko and Jari-Matti lost time on the first day. I'm sad that Miikka made a mistake, but the whole team is behind him and they regained their confidence with so many fastest times yesterday."

Ford of Europe motorsport chief Gerard Quinn said: "The pace of the Fiesta RS WRC was clear for all to see and but for two unfortunate incidents, both Mikko and Jari-Matti would have challenged for victory. Positions in both the manufacturers' and drivers' championship remain close and I'm confident the exciting competition we have viewed this year will continue throughout the season."

News from other Ford teams
M-Sport Stobart Ford drivers Mads Østberg and Jonas Andersson drove consistently to finish fifth, with team-mates Matthew Wilson and Scott Martin in ninth. Evgeny Novikov and Stéphane Prévot recovered from a first day roll to finish 13th, two places ahead of the similar Fiesta RS WRC of P-G Andersson and Emil Axelsson. Munchi's Ford duo Federico Villagra and Jorge Perez Companc completed the Fiesta RS WRC finishers in 17th. FERM Power Tools duo Dennis Kuipers and Frederic Miclotte retired from 15th after this morning's second stage with gearbox troubles.

Ott Tanak and Kuldar Sikk won the SWRC support series in a Ford Fiesta S2000 to take a two point lead in the series after three rounds. Egon Kaur and Erik Lepikson scored their second straight victory in the FIA WRC Academy, the sport's new training programme for young drivers, supported by Ford. Kaur now leads the series for identical Fiesta R2 rally cars, by 32 points.

The Citroën DS3 WRC remains unbeaten on gravel

Posted: September 12, 2011 2:16 PM

After Mexico, Portugal and Jordan, the Citroën DS3 WRC has scored its fourth consecutuive victory on gravel. Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena gained this win the hard way as they were first out on the road in all three legs: their success has helped them increase their lead in the drivers’ classification in the World Rally Championship. Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia saw the flag in fourth place scoring precious points for the Citroën Total World Rally Team, which now leads the Manufacturers’ Championship.

After two long days’ racing, the third leg of Rally Italy was the final sprint for the crews left in the event.
Sébastien Loeb started the morning with only 23.8s in hand over Mikko Hirvonen, as the stewards had rectified one of the Finn’s times after the second leg. The first stage was the short Gallura special, also used at the end of the rally for the Power Stage. The seven-time world champion was again handicapped by his position on the road, and he lost a few seconds cutting his lead to 20.2s. “The next stage Monte Olia (SS16), was less penalizing in terms of sweeping. I didn’t have any choice. I had to keep pushing to fend off a comeback by Mikka,” said Loeb. “In SS17, I started off at a hot pace. Then I realized that he wasn’t catching me and I lifted off slightly in the closing kilometers.”

Sébastien Ogier began the day with the aim of a podium finish, but his hopes were dashed in SS17:
“I hadn’t noted a little milestone buried on the exit from a fast corner. The left-hand rear wheel hit it and the suspension broke. I stopped as I thought we’d had a puncture. We were able to continue and we dropped more than a minute on the stage. But it could have been worse as we lost only one place.”

After the 30-minute service halt which gave the mechanics time to repair the no. 2 Citroën DS3 WRC, only the Power Stage remained to end the rally. Loeb bagged another point by setting the third-fastest time in this stage. The Frenchman admitted that his sixty-fourth success was one of the toughest of his long career “It’s a great victory as we won without any particular strategy. We started with the big disadvantage of being first out on the road on the opening day. We managed to take the lead and build up a small cushion, which we maintained yesterday and today. To do so we had to go pedal to the metal from start to finish. I felt good in the car, and this helped me push really hard. Obviously, it was very fraught at certain moments so it’s a big relief to see the end of the rally.”

Ogier held on to fourth place and scored good points for both world championships:
“We failed to achieve our aim of finishing on the podium, but fourth isn’t too bad a result in itself. I lack experience in this rally in relation to the other drivers. I never really felt relaxed as I was absolutely determined to finish an event in which I’ve never had much luck.”

“Sébastien Loeb drove an extraordinary rally. To win here while being first on the road in all three legs is a mega performance,” summed up Frédéric Banzet, the Citroën General Manager. “ Sébastien Ogier wasn’t very lucky today but he scored good points. Yet again I was impressed by the professionalism of the whole team, which works in a serene, cooperative and enthusiastic ambience.”


Posted: September 12, 2011 2:14 PM

Dennis Kuipers and Frederic Miclotte had to retire on the final day of Rally Italia Sardegna on Stage 16 after the Ford Fiesta RS WRC of the FERM Power Tools World Rally Team stopped with a broken gearbox.

"Of course it’s a little frustrating to retire, but I am very happy about our performance during this rally. We have definitely made a big step forward”, says Kuipers on his debut in Sardinia, the fifth round of the FIA World Rally Championship.

The strong performance of the FERM World Rally Team became clear after a splendid sixth position on the last special stage on Friday. "Before the start of this special stage Fred and I had decided that we wanted to get the maximum. If your plan succeeds with the sixth place as a result, it feels fantastic. It’s a further confirmation of our progress.”

The pace of the FERM World Rally Team led to an improvement in the overall standings. At the start of the final day Dennis Kuipers and Frederic Miclotte were only 18.2 seconds down from tenth position, which brings with it a WRC point. This was a nice reward for a strong second day in which the FERM-team had to overcome a knowledge gap.

"I made no mistakes and the results were encouraging. We were in front of squads which we normally chase and that is very positive.” A conclusion who was shared by co-driver Frederic Miclotte: “The strong line-up made this rally an important indicator. I think we have shown our potential. That we had to abandon with a technical failure is regrettable, but it does not affect our performance here this weekend. "

The FERM World Rally Team will be back in the Acropolis Rally of Greece, from June 16 to 19. “I wish I could be back in the Ford Fiesta RS WRC already next week. I can’t wait to be on the stages in Greece”, ends Kuipers.


Posted: September 12, 2011 2:13 PM

Federico Villagra battled back from an early setback at Rally Italia Sardegna to mark his 50th outing in the FIA World Rally Championship with four Manufacturers’ points for the Munchi’s Ford World Rally Team.

The Argentine driver was eager to mark his “golden” WRC anniversary with his first top-ten result in Sardinia but only 2 km into Stage 5, he ran his Ford Fiesta RS WRC wide and hit a bridge. The incident tore the car’s right rear wheel off and forced Villagra and co-driver Jorge Perez Companc to retire for the day.

On Friday evening the Munchi’s Ford team worked relentlessly on the car until 2am where the rear right corner, the front bumper, rear roll bar and wheel were replaced. The sump guard was also changed as well as extensive body work repairs to the rear. At the end of the first day, Villagra was sitting 32nd overall.

On Saturday, the Munchi’s Ford driver slowly crept up the WRC leaderboard and was sitting 24th overall by the midday service. At Service D, the Munchi’s team changed the sump guard and dropped the rear-ride height for the repeat afternoon pass.

A trouble-free afternoon followed for the nine-time Argentine Rally Champion and Villagra finished the end of the second day 19th.

The final day posed no problems for Villagra who was keen to experiment with some different set-ups in his Fiesta RS WRC. The Argentine pulled into the final service 17th overall.

Next weekend Villagra will compete in the third round of the Argentine Rally Championship – Rally de Cutral Có y Plaza Huincul – in a specially developed Ford Fiesta.

The following weekend the Munchi’s Ford driver will compete at his home event as the FIA World Rally Championship travels to Argentina from 26 – 29 May.

Federico Villagra said:
“Sardinia has always been a difficult rally for me – I don’t think I’ve finished here in the top ten before. It’s just an event I always seem to have problems with but if we hadn’t retired on Friday then I think we could have had a good result. I’m just relieved to have made it to the end and with some points for the team. I was trying to drive as well as I could today, to try out some new things but we did not need to push and just wanted to drive within our limit. Now I must look forward to two important rallies on the calendar – the third round of the Argentine Rally Championship followed by my home event in the WRC, Rally Argentina. I’ve finished fourth in Argentina before so I’m aiming for a top-five result there this year. I’ve got good experience in the Ford Fiesta RS WRC now so hopefully I can get a strong result on the roads that I know well.”


Posted: September 12, 2011 2:11 PM

Ford Fiesta S2000 driver Ott Tänak enjoyed a near-perfect debut at Rally Italia Sardegna as the Estonian driver dominated the third round of the Super 2000 World Rally Championship (S-WRC) from start to finish.

Returning to the S-WRC after missing the previous round in Jordan, Martin Prokop took a second podium spot for the Fiesta S2000 with his third place finish this weekend. After two disappointing events, Nasser Al-Attiyah showed a return to form as he rounded off the top four in another Fiesta S2000.

The Ford Fiesta S2000 has now won the first three rounds of this year’s S-WRC and M-Sport’s new generation rally car now occupies the top two spots of the overall championship standings with Tänak and Prokop with 40 points each.

Ott Tänak
S-WRC position: 1
Overall position: 7
Estonian hot shot Ott Tänak chose to drop the previous S-WRC round in Jordan but had already made an impressive debut in Mexico where he finished third overall and took 15 championship points.

Tänak, a former Pirelli Star Driver, was quickest through the opening stage and stayed out front for the rest of the day, racking up six fastest stage times. By the end of the day he had carved out an advantage of 25.7 seconds from fellow Ford Fiesta S2000 driver Martin Prokop and was placed seventh overall.

A trouble-free morning followed for Markko Märtin’s protégé who racked up three-fastest stage times to lead the series by 53.3 seconds by Service D. Throughout Day 2, Tänak held onto his seventh place position and in front of eight World Rally Cars.

Sunday was trouble-free for Tänak as the young Estonian consolidated his rally lead with a polished performance, securing him 25 well-deserved championship points and promoting him to top of the S-WRC championship standings alongside Prokop.

Ott Tänak said:
“It’s been a tough rally but I’m very happy with this result. I’ve never been here before, so I haven’t been pushing to the maximum but everything just seems to have worked well. There were so many rocks on the stages, if you go a little bit off the line then they can catch you out. We have been careful but the car has been great - we’ve had no problems. I was worried after a big hit on the first day, but the car was fine. I’ve been lucky because I’ve not needed to push - I’ve just enjoyed being able to learn the car and not had to worry too much about pressure from behind.”

Martin Prokop
S-WRC position: 3
Overall position: 10
Despite Martin Prokop reporting the first day of Rally Italia Sardegna as one of the hardest in his career, the Czech driver spent most of the day in second place. The highlight of Prokop’s day was his quickest time on the Monte Grighini Sud test, reckoned by many as the day’s toughest. He was placed ninth overall at the end of the first day and 18.1 seconds clear of Hanninen who was placed second in S-WRC.

Prokop’s power steering pipe failed during Stage 10 and this dropped the Czech driver down to third in S-WRC, 38.6 seconds behind Hanninen. The pipe was repaired during the midday service and Saturday afternoon proved trouble-free for the former J-WRC champion who remained in third.

On Stage 17 Prokop’s Fiesta S2000 suffered exhaust problems and cost the Czech driver nearly two minutes. Fortunately, he was able to nurse his car through the closing stage to pull into the end of day service after a troubled rally with 15 championship points under his belt.

Martin Prokop said:
“This has been a really hard rally - all the time the road has been turning and it’s been exhausting. I don’t feel I have made the best line on the number of corners this weekend so there has been no time to enjoy many of the stages as I’ve needed to concentrate very hard. We have had a few problems but it’s good to make it to the end and with 15 points for the championship. Now I must look to Greece and hope that we can have a clean run and continue to remain at the top of the standings.”

Nasser Al-Attiyah
S-WRC position: 4
Overall position: 11
Six-time MERC champion Nasser Al-Attiyah lost time on the opening day as he was caught in fellow S-WRC competitor Hermann Gassner’s dust in Stage 7 followed by difficulties with a damaged damper during the day’s final stage. With fourth-placed Al-Attiyah more than three minutes behind Tänak, it looked as if the Qatari driver was out of winning contention.

Saturday and Sunday caused no major problems for the reigning Dakar Rally champion and a relieved Al-Attiyah pulled into the final service happy to have secured 12 valuable points after an unlucky streak during the championship’s opening two rounds.

Nasser Al-Attiyah said:
“I was hoping for a win this weekend but it’s good to finish with 12 points for the championship – we desperately needed some points after the disappointment from Jordan and Mexico so this is a good result for us. The pace that I’ve seen from Tänak this weekend is very impressive and I think he’s definitely one to watch in the future.”
Frigyes Turán
S-WRC position: 7
Overall position: 24
Frigyes Turán’s rally got off to an unfortunate start after suffering from a misfire whilst driving to Friday’s opening stage. This was then followed by a broken exhaust on Stage 2 which caused the disappointed Hungarian to retire for the day.

Turán returned on the second day under SupeRally regulations and had a clear run through the repeat loop of stages covering 143.06 km apart from minor power steering issues on Stage 17.

Sunday’s closing stages caused no problems for Turán who was using the stages to try and gain more experience in the Fiesta S2000 ahead of his next event in Greece

Frigyes Turán said:
“Apart from the incident on Friday, we’ve had a good rally. Obviously we were aiming to finish with more points than this to help us move up the leaderboard but we’ve learned a lot on this event which should help us for the future. It’s definitely been one of the hardest rallies I’ve contested, the road conditions and grip have been changing all the time so it’s difficult getting into a good rhythm.”

Bernardo Sousa
S-WRC position: DNF
Overall position: N/A
S-WRC Jordan Rally winner Bernardo Sousa was keen for another podium finish to consolidate his position in the standings. However, the tricky road conditions made the going difficult for the reigning Portuguese Rally Champion. At the end of the first day, he was placed fifth in the S-WRC, 15.1 seconds behind fellow Fiesta S2000 driver Nasser Al-Attiyah.

Sousa remained fifth throughout Saturday’s stages despite nursing a sore arm after he overshot a junction on Stage 10 and collided with a rock. At the end of Stage 14, Sousa was placed 16th overall.

On Stage 16 the driver’s rally was abruptly ended when his Fiesta S2000 failed to start due to an alternator issue. Despite this disappointing finish, the young Portuguese driver still holds fifth in the overall championship standings.

Bernardo Sousa said:
“What a tough weekend! I’m disappointed not to have made it to the end, especially after we decided to play it safe today and yesterday. Sardinia is definitely one of the hardest rallies on the calendar so I must not be too disappointed – it’s all part of the sport after all. We’ve still got five rounds left in the championship so there’s a long way to go so we just hope for a good position in Greece and to leave there with some points.”


Posted: September 12, 2011 2:07 PM

Mads Østberg has returned to points-scoring form for the M-Sport Stobart Ford World Rally Team after finishing fifth at the end of an action-packed weekend on the sun-drenched island of Sardinia.

The Cumbrian-based squad have finished in the top five of all FIA World Rally Championship rounds so far this season with Britain’s Matthew Wilson finishing fifth for the team twice and Norway’s Østberg finishing inside the top five on three occasions.

Fresh from his victory at the fourth round of the Norwegian Rally Championship – Rally Sørland – Østberg reported a perfect feeling in the Ford Fiesta RS WRC at the pre event Shakedown test on Thursday morning. His confidence in the car’s handling was reflected by six top-five stage times on Friday’s repeat loop of eight stages covering 131.06 km.

On Saturday, Østberg and co-driver Jonas Andersson set a good pace remaining in fifth for the six stages, reporting only minor set-up issues and no rear brakes for the day’s closing test.

Sunday morning proved difficult for the Scandinavian pairing – Østberg overshot a junction on Stage 16 due to a misheard pacenote but the 23-year-old driver held fifth throughout the day and secured himself ten well-deserved drivers’ points.

Matthew Wilson enjoyed two top-five results in the previous WRC rounds in Jordan and Portugal but brake and steering issues on the rally’s opening day looked like it was set to prevent the 24-year-old from securing his third successive top-five placing.

During the following two days, Wilson and co-driver Scott Martin reported a better feeling in their Fiesta RS WRC and the Cumbrian duo finished the event ninth overall.

A broken steering arm and slow puncture dropped M-Sport Stobart driver P-G Andersson out of podium contention on Friday’s opening loop but the Swede returned to flying form during Saturday and Sunday.

On Sunday morning, Andersson posted two second-fastest stage times but suffered from a slow puncture on Stage 15. On the rally’s final stage, Andersson hit a barrier and lost ten seconds but finished the event happy with his pace and placed 15th overall.

Russian flyer Evgeny Novikov proved his ability to chase the WRC front-runners when he was sitting in a career-best third place by the end of Stage 4, leading his M-Sport Stobart team-mate Østberg by an impressive 9.7 seconds.

However, the 20-year-old misheard a pacenote on Stage 7 and crashed his Fiesta RS WRC forcing Novikov and co-driver Stephane Prevot to retire. The M-Sport Stobart team worked hard overnight on Friday to repair the pair’s car which had suffered extensive chassis damage.

Saturday saw Novikov post a fourth-fastest time on Stage 11 and the pairing climbed the WRC leaderboard to lie 15th overnight.

A small differential problem for Novikov on Sunday morning made the going difficult for the M-Sport Stobart driver but the Russian managed to make it to the end of the rally, finishing 13th overall.

Team-mates Henning Solberg and Ilka Minor had an unfortunate weekend after colliding with a bridge and causing damage to the rear-right damper on Friday morning. Further damage was caused to the car with a fire which was extinguished by the marshals at the stage finish and this was followed by engine problems in the afternoon.

The M-Sport Stobart team declared the damage to their Ford Fiesta RS WRC irreparable on Friday evening and regrettably Solberg was unable to return to the rally.

Mads Østberg said:
“I’m happy to have made it to the end of this rally and very pleased with this result. It’s been a tricky event with lots of ups and downs - we had no preload left on the rear diff on Stage 17 then a wrong pacenote meant we had a lucky escape on Stage 16. We’ve had a few other small problems which have stopped us from fighting at the very top. Now we need to stabilise the speed in order to make the next step closer to the others. My confidence has improved now after this rally and I’m so glad we didn’t have any big problems like we had in Jordan and Portugal. Hopefully this can continue so we can try to battle with the top four in the next few rallies.”

Matthew Wilson said:
“It’s been a frustrating weekend. On reflection, I think if we’ve had a good day on Friday then we could have been able to push more for a higher position yesterday and today. If you look at Portugal and Jordan when we finished fifth, we had a good opening day so that definitely helped keep us in the game for the final two days. It’s not all been bad, we’ve had some good stages and we’ve made it to the end of a difficult rally whilst many other cars didn’t. To be truthful, Sardinia has never been one of my favourite rallies but hopefully we can get back to a better result when we go to Argentina as I enjoy the nature of the stages over there a lot more than I do here.”

P-G Andersson said:
“After our incident on Friday, I just wanted to concentrate on getting some good stage times on the board and to try and come back stronger for the final two days. The last two days have been really good but Friday was definitely a day to forget. I’ve been happy with my pace on some of the stages but on that last stage we went wide and hit the first corner which lost us a bit of time when we were really wanting to push. I’m not sure what my plans are for the future in the WRC, I’m really hoping that I can do Finland but we’ll just have to wait and see. Before then, I’ve got a couple of rallies in the IRC that I will be wanting to concentrate on first.”

Evgeny Novikov said:
“The weekend has been OK in general but today wasn’t such a good day as we had some problems with the differential. There has been some good and bad points on this rally, I know that I can drive fast when things are going well but I just need some moreexperience in the car and I need a rally where I know the roads better. I am feeling very motivated now, the car is going well most of the time. I’m looking forward to Greece in June – I’ll be wanting to push there and I’d like to finish in the top five.”

M-Sport Stobart Ford Team Principal Malcolm Wilson said:
“It’s great to get Mads back to where he should have been on the last couple of rallies. It’s really as good a result that he could have expected this weekend and hopefully he can maintain this consistency until the next round in Argentina. Matthew hasn’t quite been where he wanted this weekend but at the end of the day he still made it through a difficult rally and with some valuable points for the team. P-G and Evgeny both demonstrated a fantastic show of speed this weekend which has been very impressive and looks promising for the future.”

First podium of the season for Petter Solberg/Chris Patterson

Posted: September 12, 2011 2:04 PM

Petter Solberg and Chris Patterson finished third on the Rally of Italy, which took place this weekend in Sardinia. Driving his Citroën DS3 WRC entered by the Petter Solberg World Rally Team and prepared by Citroën Racing Technologies, the 2003 World Rally Champion claimed his first podium of the season.

Having shown himself to be incredibly competitive since the start of the year, Petter Solberg was finally able to capitalise on his strong performances with a podium. The Norwegian showed his fighting spirit over the fearsome Sardinian stages that make up Italy’s round of the World Rally Championship. Petter constantly improved the set-up of his car to overcome the time loss that he suffered at the start of the event and claim the final podium place, ending up just 12.6 seconds behind Mikko Hirvonen, who was runner-up, and 23.8 seconds behind the winner, Sébastien Loeb.

“This podium is massively important for my team, my backers and me personally,” said Petter. “I feel that I could have won the rally but we had a few small problems that delayed us at the start. This positive result definitely means that we can approach the next events with more confidence.”

The two Citroën DS3 WRCs entered by Van Merksteijn Motorsport did not make it to the end of the rally. Peter van Merksteijn Senior and Erwin Mombaerts were forced to retire after another competitor hit the Dutchman’s car, which had gone off on SS3. The impact meant that his Citroën DS3 WRC was too badly damaged to be fixed, so there was no possibility to take advantage of the SupeRally regulations and start again the following day. Peter van Merksteijn Junior and Eddy Chevaillier were classified 15th at the end of the opening day and steadily increased their pace throughout Saturday morning. But on SS11, the engine of their Citroën DS3 WRC showed signs of trouble and this forced the crew to retire.
“I’m really disappointed,” said the younger van Merksteijn. “We had made a lot of progress throughout the second day. Unfortunately it wasn’t possible to continue, or to start again under the SupeRally rules and finish the rally. I hope to have a bit more success in Argentina in three weeks’ time.” Benoit Nogier, in charge of Citroën Racing Technologies, concluded: “It’s great for our morale to see Petter Solberg on the podium. Despite a small technical problem at the start of the rally and a puncture, he’s managed to finish third. Peter van Merksteijn Senior fell victim to a minor driving error, while Peter van Merksteijn Junior was also out of luck. He retired because of an engine problem, just when he was beginning to set good times for a driver of his experience. We’re disappointed not to see him at the finish.”

On the next round in Argentina, Citroën Racing Technologies will field two cars for Petter Solberg and Peter van Merksteijn Junior.


Posted: September 12, 2011 2:03 PM

1 S Loeb/D Elena Citroen DS3 WRC 3 hours 40 mins 40.9 sec
2 P Solberg/C Patterson Citroen DS3 WRC + 11 .2 sec
3 M Hirvonen/J Lehtinen Ford Fiesta RS WRC + 23.8 sec
4 S Ogier/J Ingrassia Citroen DS3 WRC + 1 min 31.5 sec
5 M Østberg/J Andersson Ford Fiesta RS WRC + 2 mins 42.6 sec
6 D Sordo/C Corrall Mini John Cooper WRC + 3 mins 27.6 sec
7 O Tanak/K Sikk Ford Fiesta S2000 + 7 mins 10.6 sec
8 J Hanninen/M Markkula Skoda Fabia S2000 + 7 mins 37.6 sec
9 M Wilson/S Martin Ford Fiesta RS WRC + 8 mins 0.4 sec
10 M Prokop/J Tomanek Ford Fiesta S2000 + 11 mins 28.2 sec

Full Results:

Seeded Entry List

Posted: April 29, 2011 10:59 AM

Rally Guide / Event Website / Details

Posted: January 2, 1990 3:01 PM

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