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2017 World Rally Championship

Posted: October 18, 2017 3:39 AM - 14908 Hits


Posted: October 18, 2017 3:39 AM

Ott Tänak has long been a part of the M-Sport family and, following the announcement that he and co-driver Martin Järveoja will be journeying to pastures new next year, the whole team would like to take this opportunity to wish them both the very best in their new adventures.

Tänak first came to Malcolm Wilson’s attention in 2009 – nominated by former team driver and mentor Markko Märtin to pilot the Ford Fiesta R2 on the Estonian leg of its global launch tour. Tänak was quick to impress and was signed up to a development programme with M-Sport.

In 2011, the Estonian made his debut with the Ford Fiesta S2000 – competing in the Super 2000 World Rally Championship and racking up an impressive five podium finishes and three outright victories.

Despite a nail-biting fight for the Championship, he had to settle for the runner-up spot but finished the season by piloting the Ford Fiesta RS WRC for the M-Sport Stobart Ford World Rally Team at Wales Rally GB, and for the Ford World Rally Team at Rallye du Var – proof of Wilson’s faith in his ability.

The young Tänak impressed on both outings – claiming sixth place overall in Wales and setting a blinding pace in France to secure a podium finish on his first asphalt rally with the top-specification Fiesta.

In 2012, Tänak earned himself a full season with the Fiesta RS WRC. A year of highs and lows followed, but the Estonian’s pace was clear to see – a string of fastest stage times proving that he had the speed to match the world’s best and he secured a maiden podium at Rally Italia Sardegna.

Taking a year out from the Championship in 2013, a matured Tänak returned to the world stage in 2014. A WRC 2 campaign occupied the majority of his season, but the Estonian also returned to the Fiesta RS WRC for three events – setting fastest times and running as high as second overall at Rally de Portugal.

Having proven his worth to Wilson for a second time, Tänak was swiftly recalled to join the M-Sport squad for another full season in 2015 and encountered another year of highs and lows.

Once again, Wilson could not let go, and offered the Estonian another full season as part of the newly formed DMACK World Rally Team. Here, Tänak showed flashes of brilliance – proving that a rare third chance had not been misplaced.

Missing out on a debut victory in the cruellest of fashions at Rally Poland, Tänak won the hearts of the fans and was voted 2016’s Driver of the Year.

That performance also saw Tänak take prime position for 2017 and he had an instrumental hand in the development of the new-generation Ford Fiesta WRC.

Gifted with a talented technical mind – as well as impressive driving skills – the Estonian proved the perfect man to develop the new Fiesta and the car has excelled on every surface to lead the way in both championships.

With his hard work having clearly paid off, Tänak also claimed his maiden victory on the gravel tracks of Rally Italia Sardegna – quickly followed by another victory on the asphalt of Rallye Deutschland – and currently holds second place in the drivers’ standings.

Tänak and Järveoja have been an integral part of the team this season but, before we wave goodbye to one of the team’s most talented and popular drivers, there remains much to play for as M-Sport embark on two decisive final rounds.

Thank-you Ott, thank-you Martin, and good luck in your next adventure. But first, let’s get this season finished on a high!

Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:
“It is with a heavy heart that the team say goodbye to Ott and Martin who have been such an important part of our success this year. There’s arguably been no other driver who I have put as much faith in – or given as many chances – but I recognised his potential straight away.

“He has always been quick. From the moment he first came to my attention there was no doubting his speed, and in recent years he has developed into the full package – a rally winner and a potential championship contender.

“It’s not easy to say goodbye, but it’s time for Ott to experience pastures new and we wish both him and Martin the very best for the future. Until then, there remain two very important events and I know that Ott and Martin will be giving their all to end their time with the M-Sport family on a high.”


Posted: September 22, 2017 9:28 AM

Due to the incredible support received throughout the 2017 season, M-Sport are launching a Supporters’ Club to welcome the team’s most passionate fans and friends to the M-Sport family.

To reward the team’s most dedicated supporters, the newly-formed “MS-RT Supporters’ Club” will keep fans in the loop with all of the latest news and offers.

In exchange for an annual membership fee of £25*, members will receive a welcome pack including special edition Supporters’ Club baseball cap (to be issued December 2017), keyring, car sticker and membership card.

Members will also receive all of the latest team news direct to their inbox – being amongst the first to learn of the team’s announcements.

In addition, members will benefit from invitation to special Supporter Club events and will be privy to exclusive Supporter Club competitions with opportunities to win a whole host of one-off memorabilia.

If that weren’t enough, Supporter Club members will also receive the same perks as M-Sport team members with exclusive discounts and first-chance offers at the M-Sport store.

To sign up, visit www.msportstore.com and follow the link to purchase a welcome pack and be amongst the first to register.

The Supporters’ Club will be launched at this weekend’s Rallyday and to celebrate, a competition will be launched for attending fans.

Those who purchase a supporters’ pack from the M-Sport Store stand before 12h30 will be entered into a draw to win a passenger ride with M-Sport World Rally Team’s Elfyn Evans.

The winner will be selected at random from club membership bought at Rallyday only, and the winner must be over 18 and able to take the prize at the show.

Malcolm Wilson OBE said:
“The entire team have been blown away by the incredible support that we have received this year. It has been phenomenal and really has pushed us to deliver our best. Launching the Supporters’ Club allows us to give something back to all those people and welcome them into the M-Sport family.”

*plus postage and packing dependent on location


Posted: March 10, 2017 7:28 AM

The new generation of more dramatic World Rally Cars are proving a massive hit with fans around the world according to early television viewing figures from WRC Promoter.

The first two rounds of the 2017 season ? staged in Monte Carlo and Sweden ? are shaping up to be among the most watched rallies in recent years, with a driver market shake-up and the latest era of more powerful rally cars the reason for the series' spiralling popularity.

"It comes as no surprise that people are really switching on to the 2017 World Rally Championship," said WRC Promoter's managing director Oliver Ciesla. "Before the season started, we knew we were in for a real treat, but the action we have seen so far has been simply incredible.

"We've already had some fantastic story lines: heartache for pace-setter Thierry Neuville in both Monte Carlo and Sweden, a debut win for Sebastien Ogier on his very first outing for M-Sport and then the dream for Jari-Matti Latvala and Toyota winning last time out in Sweden. "Honestly, these stories are making for great drama and incredible viewing. We wait with real interest for the quarterly global numbers, but already viewing figures are very encouraging from Monte Carlo and Sweden."

With live coverage on both BT Sport and Red Bull TV, a magazine programme on Spike and comprehensive post-produced highlights on Channel 5, UK audiences have never been offered such extensive terrestrial and satellite WRC coverage.

While viewers are spoilt for choice, the regular hour-long Channel 5 highlights programme screened at 7pm on Monday evenings immediately after all 13 rounds remains the easiest way for most fans to follow the spectacular action.

"Having a regular primetime slot on one of Britain's main television channels is a real tick in the box for us," confirmed Ciesla. "With Kris Meeke, Elfyn Evans and, of course, their Irish colleague Craig Breen featuring so heavily this year, Channel 5's coverage is perfect for them."

In addition to the event report, Channel 5's sister station Spike (available on Freeview) also runs a pre-event magazine show at 9am on the Saturday before each rally.

And rally enthusiasts have not long to wait to catch the next instalment of thrilling WRC excitement. The season's first gravel round blasts off later this week in Mexico with the two opening CDMX Street Stage presented by Michelin timed sectors staged in the iconic Z?calo square (main below), made famous by the amazing helicopter stunts featured in the opening sequence to the James Bond movie Spectre.

Video: Junior World Rally Championship Training Workshop 2017

Posted: March 8, 2017 11:06 AM

Rob Duggan to compete in Junior World Rally Championship (JWRC)

Posted: February 1, 2017 3:07 PM


Posted: February 1, 2017 2:50 PM

M-Sport crews - Sebastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia, and Ott Tanak and Martin Jarveoja ? will sport special number plates throughout the 2017 season. The Frenchmen's Ford Fiesta WRC will carry WRT 1 while the Estonians will take to the wheel of WRT 2.

The number plates have been loaned to the team by W R Tullock and Sons Limited ? the longest established Ford Dealer in Scotland.

A fifth generation company steeped in motoring history, W R Tullock and Sons was founded in 1901 when William Reid Tullock returned to his home in Orkney following 17 years in America.

During his time in the USA, William met Henry Ford and from that first meeting the Tullock family's loyalty to the Ford brand began.

It is even recorded that after crossing the Atlantic en-route to London in 1915, Henry Ford anchored in Kirkwall Bay where William was requested to come on board and renew their friendship.

Since its foundation, the company has remained independent and in family ownership. Managed through the generations, William past ownership onto his two sons, David T Tullock (Theo) and Robert P H Tullock.

Theo's son Robert T Tullock was next in line, followed by his two sons, David R Tullock and Duncan A Tullock. Today, David's son Warren R Tullock continues the tradition.

Keen to continue his family's loyalty to the Blue Oval, it was Warren who offered the two number plates to M-Sport's lead drivers for the 2017 FIA World Rally Championship.

Inviting both David and Warren to the Autosport International Show in Birmingham earlier this month, they were able to get up close and personal with the car that will carry their iconic number plates throughout a new era of world rallying ? the Ecoboost-powered Ford Fiesta WRC.

M-Sport Managing Director, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:

"We've embarked upon what is sure to be one of the most exciting FIA World Rally Championship seasons in decades, not just for M-Sport but for rallying as a whole. It will be particularly special for our team as we enter this exciting new era with the number one on the side of the Ford Fiesta WRC.

"We have long enjoyed a special relationship with the Ford brand, as have W R Tullock and Sons, and we are delighted to accept their offer of these special number plates for the season ahead.

"It's fantastic to have such support from such long-established members of the Ford family - highlighting the magnitude of what we have accomplished over the past few months.

"Now, all that remains is for us to continue our strong showing and keep the Blue Oval in its rightful place ? challenging for the top-step of the podium."

Warren R Tullock, W R Tullock & Sons Limited, said:

"Being avid motorsport fans ? especially anything Ford or powered by a Ford engine ? my father and I both thought this was an ideal opportunity for M-Sport to emphasise their position in the 2017 World Rally Championship; not only displaying the numbers one and two, but also having their status as a world rally team underlined with WRT 1 and WRT 2 on their car registration plates.

"We were absolutely thrilled and delighted when Malcolm expressed the same enthusiasm as we did for the idea and wish him, Sebastien, Julien, Ott, Martin and all at M-Sport every success for the exciting season ahead."

Citroen Racing updates via WhatsApp for 2017 WRC

Posted: January 14, 2017 4:59 PM


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Evans Joins DMACK In 2017 WRC Campaign

Posted: January 11, 2017 11:26 AM

British tyre manufacturer DMACK will continue to compete at the pinnacle of world motorsport for the seventh consecutive season, with confirmation that it will contest the 2017 FIA World Rally Championship.

Heading the challenge for the DMACK World Rally Team will be 28-year-old Welshman Elfyn Evans in a 2017-specification Ford Fiesta WRC. Reigning British Rally Champion Evans will be reunited with long-term English co-driver Daniel Barritt ? making it a truly British team.

Evans has had a short but successful partnership with DMACK, lifting the 2016 British Rally Championship title after winning five of the seven rounds and taking overall victory at the Bettega Memorial rally last month.

He will be at the wheel of M-Sport's groundbreaking Ford Fiesta WRC and will be nominated as M-Sport's third points scoring driver when the series kicks off with the iconic Rally Monte Carlo. The pair will finalise their preparations with a pre-event test in France on Friday 13 January.

DMACK will also continue its WRC 2 seven-round programme for the winners of last year's Drive DMACK Fiesta Trophy. Champion Osian Pryce from Wales will be joined by Finland's Max Vatanen and Northern Irishman Jon Armstrong ? all three sharing the prize drives in an M-Sport Fiesta R5.

The Drive DMACK Fiesta Trophy, which has seen DMACK provide the biggest prize in world rallying to the world's best young talent for the past three years, is set to become the FIA Junior WRC this season.

Comprising six rounds of the WRC, drivers from around the world will compete in identical Fiesta R2T cars run by M-Sport ? again battling for the Drive DMACK prize of a full season in WRC 2.

DMACK will compete alongside Michelin as approved WRC tyre manufacturers for the seventh consecutive season. Last year was the firm's most successful campaign, scoring 30 fastest stage times and leading two rallies outright after an intense 15-month period of technical development.

For 2017, DMACK will continue to supply its DMACK Grippa tyre range with performance upgrades to suit both WRC and WRC 2 competitors. The asphalt tyre has a revised tread pattern, profile and compounds while the successful gravel tyre benefits from performance enhancements including a run-flat construction.

Both the Monte Carlo and Sweden winter tyres have been completely redesigned with new tread patterns and studding systems.

DMACK's 2017 season kicks off with Rally Monte Carlo which blasts away from Casino Square in Monaco on Thursday 19 January.

Dick Cormack, DMACK managing director, said:
"Last year was pivotal in DMACK's history ? from both a performance and technical development aspect. Our small but extremely focused team has made huge strides forward and we're determined to maintain that progression this season.

"Elfyn has been a great ambassador for DMACK when dominating the British championship and I'm confident his hunger for success will shine through this year."

Elfyn Evans, DMACK WRC driver, said:
"I'm really excited to be back driving a WRC car again at an exciting period for the sport with the new generation cars ? and I'm thankful to DMACK for the opportunity. I've really enjoyed working with them over the last 12 months and being part of the development of new 2017 products.

"Being away from the top level for a season has been really hard, but it's made me more motivated and determined to make the most of this opportunity."


Posted: January 11, 2017 11:24 AM

Eric Camilli and Benjamin Veillas will be joined by Teemu Suninen and Mikko Markkula this year as both crews take to the wheel of the EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta R5 for campaigns in the FIA World Rally Championship's principal support series ? WRC 2.

Both Fiestas will carry liveries that draw inspiration from the geometric 'disguise' livery which adorned the all-new Ford Fiesta WRC test car and forms the base designs for M-Sport's lead drivers ? Sebastien Ogier and Ott Tanak.

Having amassed 159 victories across 29 different countries, the Fiesta R5 secured more individual wins than any other R5 in 2016. With the highest reliability rating to boot, this combination of performance and durability makes the Fiesta the ideal choice for competitors around the globe.

Pairing the Fiesta's strengths with two exceptionally talented crews, the team are putting their best foot forward to challenge throughout all levels of what looks set to be an exciting new era of world rallying.

Starting at Rallye Monte-Carlo, Camilli and Veillas will contest a full WRC 2 campaign with an opportunity for further outings as the season progresses.

The Frenchman's story is one of an incredible rise through the rallying ranks which saw him take to the wheel of M-Sport's Ford Fiesta RS WRC last year.

Despite a season of highs and lows, the Frenchman showed real potential ? claiming a maiden stage victory on what was only his sixth outing in a world rally car and 12th ever appearance on gravel.

That potential has prompted M-Sport to keep the Frenchman on as an integral part of the team and he will contest a series of events to the gain the vital experience required to further his development.

Suninen and Markkula will start their 2017 campaign at next month's Rally Sweden. Having secured the runner-up spot in last year's WRC 2 championship, the Finn has proven himself worthy and will contest at least five events in the WRC 2 category with exciting opportunities for further outings within the M-Sport team.

Starting his career with the Blue Oval in 2013, Suninen spent two seasons in the Finnish Championship with M-Sport's range of two-wheel-drive Fiestas before progressing to the world stage where he proved a force to be reckoned with.

Securing two victories and four podiums throughout last year's WRC 2 championship, the 22-year-old now makes a welcome return to the Fiesta and is determined to better his 2016 performance.

Known for fostering young talent, M-Sport are delighted to welcome Suninen to the team and look forward to working with him as he aspires to reach the highest level of competition.

Eric Camilli said:
"The important thing for me this year is to continue to gain as much experience of as many FIA World Rally Championship events as possible. In rallying, experience is everything and it will be really important for me to continue this progression.

"When you see the drivers who will compete in the WRC 2 category at Rallye Monte-Carlo, it is very impressive. There is a real possibility for us to show our potential against experienced drivers like Andreas Mikkelsen and Bryan Bouffier ? who have both been on the podium at this special event. It will be interesting to go head-to-head with them.

"The objective for the season will be to continue our development and to gain the experience and consistency that could see us back at the top-level as soon as possible. We have a great team around us, who have put their faith in us, and I hope that there will be a lot for us all to celebrate this year."

Teemu Suninen said:
"I'm very grateful for this opportunity and very happy to join the M-Sport team. They've offered me an excellent programme for the year ahead and there are some very exciting times to come.

"M-Sport provides one of the best environments for young drivers to learn and gain experience on their way to the top level. I'm really looking forward to working with this passionate team and to seeing for myself how the four-time World Champion, Sebastien Ogier, works.

"My goal for this season is to improve on last year when I finished second in the WRC 2 championship. I know that it will be a big challenge, but with more experience under my belt I feel ready and in a good position.

"M-Sport has a great history in rallying and many Finnish drivers have succeeded in Malcolm's team. I hope, and believe, that I have a good chance of forming a part of this successful story."

M-Sport Managing Director, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:
"From as early as 2002, we have actively strived to create exciting opportunities for talented youngsters at all levels of the sport. This year, we will be fielding two cars in the WRC 2 category and I believe that we have two exceptionally strong candidates in both Eric and Teemu.

"Eric and Benjamin might be taking a step back this year, but it by no means undermines our faith in their potential. This year, Eric will be able to gain experience of as many events as possible without the pressures that come from competing at the highest level.

"Experience counts for a lot in this game and, if he can perform as we expect, it shouldn't be too long before we see him back behind the wheel of a world rally car.

"It's great to welcome Teemu and Mikko to the team. Teemu gained a lot of attention last year and there were a lot of people watching him in the WRC 2 championship. He's a young guy with a lot of talent, and it's great to have him behind the wheel of the Fiesta R5.

"We've had great success with Finns in the past, and Teemu could well form another chapter of that story. He's ambitious, and determined, and I'm looking forward to seeing what he can deliver."


Posted: December 26, 2016 3:11 AM


Posted: December 23, 2016 1:41 PM

M-Sport and DMACK have long been at the forefront when it comes to fostering young talent - offering effective and affordable routes to top-level rallying - and we are delighted to confirm that partnership will continue with details of next year's Junior World Rally Championship in association with DMACK Tyres.

The championship will follow the now familiar arrive-and-drive format which was established by M-Sport as part of the FIA WRC Academy in 2011 and competitors will take to the wheel of identical one-litre EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta R2s built and maintained by the M-Sport team in Krakow, Poland.

Throughout the past three seasons, the Drive DMACK Fiesta Trophy has seen DMACK provide young drivers with the biggest prize in global rallying - a full seven-round campaign in WRC 2. For 2017, the company will unveil ungraded versions of its DMACK Grippa range of gravel and asphalt tyres for Junior WRC competitors - all of which have been built in the UK and feature a number of significant performance improvements.

The championship will be contested over six full rounds of the FIA World Rally Championship - starting in Corsica, then Italy, Poland, Finland and Germany before the finishing in Spain. Championship points will be awarded to the top-ten finishers according to the official FIA championship points-system and an additional point will be on offer for each fastest stage time.

Helping the world's best young talents make the next step in their careers, DMACK continues into a fourth season of awarding a WRC 2 season at the wheel of M-Sport's Ford Fiesta R5.

The competitor who has amassed the most points over a combination of both the Tour de Corse and Rally Italia Sardegna will secure two prize drives. The same is on offer for the winner of Rally Poland and Rally Finland combined, and also for Rallye Deutschland and RACC Rally Espa?a combined. A seventh prize drive will then be awarded to the overall championship victor.

The competition is open to drivers born after 1 January 1988, and the ?150,000 entry fee includes JWRC Priority Entry, DMACK tyres, fuel, service facilities and rally car rental.

Entries are now open with the initial selection date taking place on 3 February 2017. Those interested in more information or looking to receive a registration form should contact Ellie Jones (ejones2@m-sport.co.uk).


M-Sport Managing Director, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:
"It's fantastic to have the FIA Junior World Rally Championship title back with M-Sport. Over the past decade, we have worked hard with Ford to provide an effective and affordable ladder of opportunity for rallying's brightest young talents to progress, and this championship adds yet another rung to that ladder.

"Together with DMACK, our one-make series are going from strength to strength and the M-Sport Poland operation continues to deliver an exceptionally high standard. We've witnessed some very close-fought competition over the past few years, and I only expect that to continue as we search for rallying's next generation of drivers."

DMACK Managing Director, Dick Cormack, said:
"The Drive DMACK Fiesta Trophy has delivered some stunning battles over the last three years and the high level of competition has meant the fight for the title has gone down to the very last loop of stages.

"We are pleased to be the official partner to the Junior WRC for the next two seasons and excited to launch a series of new products which will suit the Fiesta R2 perfectly. Our products have been tested on some of Europe's toughest rally stages and will deliver both performance and durability as Junior competitors chase the world title."


Posted: December 21, 2016 2:50 PM

2017 World Rally Championship live on Red Bull TV

Posted: December 15, 2016 6:59 AM

With non-stop action on snow, mud, tarmac and gravel, the FIA World Rally Championship radiates automotive adrenalin ? and next year it will be seen for the first time live on Red Bull TV. The ground- breaking premiere takes place on Rallye Monte-Carlo in January, ushering in a new era of unique coverage from Red Bull TV.

Red Bull TV will be broadcasting live on Saturday from each event and will host three stunning new daily shows that feature all the action as it happens, including a unique highlights round up. Co-presenting the action will be some of the biggest personalities in motorsport, lending a unique perspective to every rally. The first guest will be former F1 and Le Mans driver Mark Webber in Monaco.

The daily show from Friday to Sunday will be available to watch entirely free of charge on www.redbull.tv, via your mobile, laptop or smart television, or on the dedicated Red Bull TV app, available both for iPhone and Android. Next year's programmes promise a fresh and exciting approach to the World Rally Championship, as the sport itself enters a new era with more powerful and radical-looking cars, as well as new manufacturers entering the series.

The spectacle is going to be mind-blowing as the drivers fight for tenths of a second from Monte-Carlo to Australia over the 13 rounds of the championship. And Red Bull TV will be there to capture all the drama, from temperatures of minus 25 degrees centigrade in Sweden to plus 35 in Mexico. There will be dedicated presenters, news, interviews, features and gossip, setting new standards in WRC broadcasting.

Every Friday on each rally, a 20 to 30-minute highlight show will be broadcast at 10pm (CET) that rounds up all the action from the first leg of each event, with an intro and latest news direct from the service park ? exclusive to Red Bull TV.

Saturday brings more live action than has ever been seen before, with two shows. The first will run at midday for 75 minutes, featuring a live stage for viewers to follow the action in real time from both inside and outside the cars. At 10pm (CET) there will be another 20 to 30-minute show, with all the highlights of the day.

Sunday evening hosts a comprehensive wrap-up show lasting 30-40 minutes, presented from the service park and recounting all the events that have taken place throughout the event. All these shows will also be available to watch on-demand on Red Bull TV once the rally has finished.

Nine-time World Rally Champion Sebastien Loeb, a long-time Red Bull athlete since 2008, commented:
"It's really exciting to know that the WRC will be broadcast on Red Bull TV next year! So fans can have a chance to see the best coverage of some of the rallies when it suits them, which is really great. There's always this exciting feeling around Red Bull because they do things differently and I'm sure that this will be the case for the new TV programme as well."

The broadcast package put in place by Red Bull TV for the WRC will include a number of special features and ways of presenting that haven't been seen before, making viewers feel closer to the high-octane action than ever.

The 2017 World Rally Championship gets underway in just five weeks with Rallye Monte-Carlo: the oldest and most prestigious event in the sport that forms a baptism of fire for the new generation of World Rally Cars ? as well as a stunning premiere for Red Bull TV's WRC coverage.

The first dedicated WRC programme to go out on Red Bull TV is scheduled for Friday 20 January 2017 at 10pm (CET), summarising the action so far on the Rallye Monte-Carlo.


Posted: December 13, 2016 3:40 AM

It's the news we've all been waiting for, and M-Sport are proud to confirm that Sebastien Ogier and Ott Tanak will lead the team into an exciting new era - each piloting the all-new Ecoboost-powered Ford Fiesta WRC in the 2017 FIA World Rally Championship.

Fielding both the reigning FIA World Rally Champion and the WRC Driver of the Year, M-Sport are in prime position and determined to make a return to the top-step of the podium.

Having tested the new Fiesta in Wales last month, Ogier was sufficiently impressed by the team's latest creation and agreed terms with the Cumbrian outfit to spearhead his championship defence.

Ogier and co-driver Julien Ingrassia have long been on Malcolm Wilson's wish list, and rightly so. The French pairing are a force to be reckoned with - talent, flair and speed on any surface that the FIA World Rally Championship has to offer.

Since starting their WRC campaign in 2008, the Frenchmen have secured four world championships, 38 victories, 56 podiums and an impressive 475 stage wins ? making them a sought-after asset to any team.

M-Sport now have the opportunity to add to those impressive statistics, and are more determined than ever ahead of what looks set to be the most exciting season in decades.

Lining up alongside Ogier and Ingrassia is Tanak and new co-driver Martin Jarveoja. Showing incredible speed whilst capturing the hearts of rally fans around the world, the Estonian was crowned this year's WRC Driver of the Year and is keen to take another step forward.

Driven and ambitious, 2016 provided something of a breakthrough for Tanak who secured two second-place finishes and 30 stage wins on gravel - a statistic which could only be bettered by his new team mate, Ogier.

Having come painstakingly close to securing his maiden FIA World Rally Championship win in Poland earlier this year, the Estonian is hungry for more and determined to secure an elusive first victory behind the wheel of the car he has had a considerable hand in developing.

With the start of Rallye Monte-Carlo just 39 days away, the team cannot wait to start this exciting new chapter; and news of other crews in M-Sport's driving team will be revealed in due course.


Sebastien Ogier said:
"There will be a lot of new things this season, but I am definitely looking forward to it. We have a new generation of world rally cars, and a new team ? it's certainly an exciting time.

"There's not long before we line-up at the start of Rallye Monte-Carlo and we've not had a lot of seat time with the Ford Fiesta WRC, but we'll give it our best to be ready. We're aware of the challenges, and I can see how hungry Malcolm and his team are for success.

"It's funny to think that just a few months ago I was sitting at a motorsport forum at Wales Rally GB saying how nice it would be to work with him one day. I had no idea at the time that it would come quite so soon, but here we are!

"I'm looking forward to working with M-Sport, and we'll certainly be aiming to return them to the top-step of the podium!"

Ott Tanak said:
"I had a great season in 2016. We got a lot of experience under our belts and I think I became a much stronger driver. It was good to see the speed increase over the course of the year, and now I'm really looking forward to starting this new and exciting era.

"I've done a lot of testing with the new Ford Fiesta WRC, and it's a massive step forward. This is the first time that I've had a hand in developing a new car completely from scratch and it's been great to work with the engineers. I have a long history with M-Sport. They know how to build a competitive car and we've all worked together to produce something we hope will be quite special.

"The power is insane, and almost every aspect of the car has been completely redesigned. At first, I thought the increased power would make it a bit of a handful, but the guys have done such a good job. Every component works together to give incredible control ? it really is the full package.

"It will be really interesting next year, and the whole team are very driven towards achieving the same goals. It's great to have Seb and Julien in the team too. They have a lot of experience and I think we can all learn a lot from them. We had some great battles together this year, and I'm sure that will continue in 2017. There's so much potential in this team. You can feel the excitement and we can't wait to get started!"

M-Sport Managing Director, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:
"We go to Rallye Monte-Carlo with the number one on the door of the Ford Fiesta WRC and the strongest driver line-up we have had in years. To say we're excited about next season is an understatement. We believe that we have produced an exceptional car, and we are in the best possible position ahead of this exciting new era.

"I've made no secret of how much we wanted to work with Sebastien and Julien, and it is fantastic to welcome them to the team. We have worked extremely hard to secure them, and they believe that the Ford Fiesta WRC is the car with which they can best defend their championship.

"With Ott and Martin lining up alongside them, we are in for one hell of a season. Ott has had a very impressive year with consistent speed. He's played a major role in the development of the new car, and I'm sure that the elusive first victory isn't too far away!"

Ogier signs for M-Sport

Posted: December 13, 2016 3:35 AM

Four-time WRC World Champion Sebastien Ogier to drive for M-Sport in 2017.

Having tested the brand new Ecoboost-powered Ford Fiesta in Wales last month, the Frenchman was sufficiently impressed to agree terms with the Cumbrian team.

Ogier and co-driver Julien Ingrassia were free agents having dominated the last four years in the all conquering Volkswagen Polo before the manufacturer ended its commitment to the sport.

The pair are a force to be reckoned with and since starting their WRC assault in 2008, have secured four world championships, 38 victories, 56 podiums and an impressive 475 stage wins.

Ogier will lead the M-Sport team with Estonian 2016 Driver of the Year, Ott Tanak, and with just 39 days until the start of the Rallye Monte-Carlo, the defending champion cannot wait to get going.

"There will be a lot of new things this season, but I am definitely looking forward to it. We have a new generation of world rally cars, and a new team ? it's certainly an exciting time," said Ogier.

"There's not long before we line-up at the start of Rallye Monte-Carlo and we've not had a lot of seat time with the Ford Fiesta WRC, but we'll give it our best to be ready. We're aware of the challenges, and I can see how hungry Malcolm Wilson and his team are for success.

"It's funny to think that just a few months ago I was sitting at a motorsport forum at Wales Rally GB saying how nice it would be to work with him one day. I had no idea at the time that it would come quite so soon, but here we are!

"I'm looking forward to working with M-Sport, and we'll certainly be aiming to return them to the top-step of the podium!"

Wilson, M-Sport Managing Director, added:
"We go to Rallye Monte-Carlo with the number one on the door of the Ford Fiesta WRC and the strongest driver line-up we have had in years. To say we're excited about next season is an understatement. We believe that we have produced an exceptional car, and we are in the best possible position ahead of this exciting new era.

"I've made no secret of how much we wanted to work with Sebastien and Julien, and it is fantastic to welcome them to the team. We have worked extremely hard to secure them, and they believe that the Ford Fiesta WRC is the car with which they can best defend their championship."


Posted: December 11, 2016 11:44 AM

Embarking on a new era in the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC), we introduce the Ecoboost-powered Ford Fiesta WRC - an innovation based on the new-for-2017 road-going Fiesta which will spearhead M-Sport's challenge throughout next year's eagerly anticipated season.

Designed to next-generation technical regulations implemented by the FIA, the Fiesta WRC ushers in the latest technology in world rally cars.

Despite being built to this new set of regulations, the class of 2017 evoke images which hark back to the Group B days of old and M-Sport's latest creation retains a strong pedigree ? sharing a platform with Europe's number one best-selling small car.

Based on the recently-unveiled, all-new, road-going Ford Fiesta, the Fiesta WRC derives its performance and style from a car beloved on both the road and the stage.

Since its introduction into the sport, the Fiesta ? in its various guises as R1, R2, R5, S2000 and WRC ? has become rallying's most successful model with countless victories and championship laurels around the globe.

This year alone, the Ford Fiesta R5 claimed an impressive 159 outright victories ? that's more than any other R5 ? as well as countless class wins and a second successive FIA European Rally Championship.

Designed from a completely clean-sheet of paper, M-Sport's latest challenger adds another string to the Fiesta's impressive bow and the development team are confident of making a return to the top step of the podium.

Looking the part, a fully CFD designed aerodynamic bodyshell features a front and rear splitter, dive planes and impressive rear wing which gives the Fiesta WRC a striking visual design.

More spectacular and more powerful than its predecessor, the top-specification Fiesta has undergone a complete redesign and 95 percent of the car has been designed from scratch to deliver more power, and more mechanical grip.

Producing 380 bhp and 450 Nm of torque from its bespoke Ecoboost-powered 1600cc direct injection engine and 36 mm inlet restrictor, the sound has to be heard to be believed.

A newly-designed six-speed sequential gearbox with hydraulic shift runs alongside a multi-disc clutch and an active centre differential offers enhanced control and performance.

Evolving further, redesigned MacPherson struts with Reiger external reservoir dampers are fully adjustable in bump and rebound, while ventilated brake discs with unique four-piston monoblock calipers provide the stopping power.

Full chassis and engine data acquisition allows our engineers to conduct on-event diagnostics and performance development, while twin-dash screens for both driver and co-driver keep our crews on track.

Improved safety has also formed a key part of the Fiesta WRC's development. A T45 steel rollcage is welded to the chassis with structural door sill reinforcements.

The presence of enhanced energy absorbing foam has also been significantly increased from 60 litres to a minimum of 95 litres. The crew's Sparco seats are cocooned by this foam and energy management figures have increased by as much as 20 percent.

Needless to say, a new and exciting era is almost upon us. Having racked up 6,392 kilometres of testing with more to follow next week, the Fiesta WRC is ready to tackle some of the most arduous and demanding stages that the FIA World Rally Championship has to offer.


M-Sport Managing Director, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:
"Entering a new era in the FIA World Rally Championship, there is a real sense of excitement throughout the team, and rightly so as I believe we have created something extremely special in the new Ford Fiesta WRC.

"Having driven the car myself, I can honestly say that it is one of the most impressive we have ever produced. It's exciting to drive, it sounds fantastic and it looks absolutely sensational.

"Every team is starting on an equal footing and I'm confident that we have produced another car which is capable of challenging ? and winning ? at the very highest level.

"More than 95 percent has been designed from scratch and our team has had whatever they've wanted to build the best possible car. No expense has been spared, and we start the 2017 season with one goal in mind ? returning to the top step of the podium."

M-Sport Head of Engineering, Chris Williams, said:
"A tremendous amount of effort, passion and enthusiasm has gone into this project and there has been a real commitment from our entire team.

"Designing a brand new car from a completely clean sheet of paper has allowed our team to re-evaluate every single component to produce the lightest and most innovative car possible.

"We've pushed the physical boundaries in all areas and have some very interesting things going on underneath the surface that we are sure are unique to this car and have already improved performance significantly in testing.

"It's not been an easy ride, but everyone realised how much potential this car has early on and that has given us the energy to keep on pushing flat out."

WRC Promoter confirms 13-round calendar for 2017

Posted: December 1, 2016 9:08 AM

The 2017 FIA World Rally Championship calendar has been announced by WRC Promoter.

The exciting new-era championship, which will feature greater manufacturer interest with the return of automotive giants Toyota and Citroen, comprises the same 13 rounds as the successful 2016 season.

It begins with the traditional season-opening Rallye Monte-Carlo in January and will feature a mix of gravel, asphalt snow and ice action on four continents before concluding in Australia in November.

The major changes are an earlier April date for France's asphalt Tour de Corse, breaking up a series of seven consecutive loose surface fixtures, and a less crowded final quarter.

Each round will welcome for the first time a new generation of World Rally Cars. Dramatic new-look challengers boasting extra power, less weight, bigger rear wings and more noise will improve the roadside action for fans.

The calendar was approved by the FIA's World Motor Sport Council meeting in Vienna and WRC Promoter managing director Oliver Ciesla said 2017 promised 'excitement in abundance'.

"The 2016 season brought great unpredictability, with six different winners during the year,? he said. "Returning former world champion manufacturers will make 2017 bigger and better, and the sense of anticipation generated by the new cars means there is plenty for fans to look forward to.?

Ciesla said the season's final months would be less hectic than the over-crowded period in the 2016 calendar.

"Despite strong efforts from all sides it wasn't possible to include Turkey and China in the calendar next year, but all parties are eager to help that come to fruition in the future.

"As a result there are no rounds in September. Rather than restructure the calendar to close that gap, we decided to keep the entire month free to observe potential candidate events,? he added.

Championship Rounds

Posted: December 1, 2016 9:06 AM

  1. Monte Carlo - 19-22 Jan 17
  2. Sweden - 9-12 Feb 17
  3. Mexico - 10-12 Mar 17
  4. France - 7-9 Apr 17
  5. Argentina - 28-30 Apr 17
  6. Portugal - 19-21 May 17
  7. Italy - 9-11 Jun 17
  8. Poland - 30 Jun-2 Jul 17
  9. Finland - 28-30 Jul 17
  10. Germany - 19-20 Aug 17
  11. Spain - 6-8 Oct 17
  12. Great Britain - 27-29 Oct 17
  13. Australia - 17-19 Nov 17

Video: Citroen C3 WRC Test 9

Posted: November 11, 2016 9:45 AM

Video: Toyota Yaris WRC 2017 Tarmac Test

Posted: October 25, 2016 3:24 PM

Video: Andreas Mikkelsen PET WRGB - 2017 spec VW Polo R WRC

Posted: October 24, 2016 2:01 PM

Juho Hänninen named as TOYOTA GAZOO Racing WRC driver in 2017!

Posted: October 18, 2016 6:49 AM

TOYOTA GAZOO Racing is delighted to announce that Finnish driver Juho Hänninen and his co-driver Kaj Lindström will compete in the 2017 FIA World Rally Championship.

Led by four-time World Rally Champion Tommi Mäkinen, the TOYOTA GAZOO Racing WRC team has been working around the clock and racking up the miles in the Yaris WRC since the beginning of the year. Involved in the intense development program as the official test driver, Juho Hänninen has a good understanding of TOYOTA GAZOO Racing’s goal—making ever-better cars—and was the obvious choice to work with during the Japanese brand’s first season competing in the FIA World Rally Championship. He has signed a one-year contract, with an option to extend beyond 2017.

After winning the Intercontinental Rally Challenge championship in 2010, Juho built on his success by claiming the FIA S-WRC title in 2011 and then becoming European Rally Champion the year after. He took part in the top category on various occasions in 2013 and 2014, delivering impressive performances at events such as Rally Sweden, Rally Poland and Rally Finland. He will be completing a full programme with the TOYOTA GAZOO Racing WRC team in 2017, alongside co-driver Kaj Lindström.

“This really feels like a dream come true!” noted the Finnish driver. “Joining a works team with such potential for a full season is a real opportunity for me. We have been working together since the car's first outing, so that makes it all the more exciting and motivating. The Yaris WRC is incredible. I can't wait to get started at the Rallye Monte-Carlo!”

Tommi Mäkinen, TOYOTA GAZOO Racing WRC Team Principal, was pleased with the choice of Juho, reiterating that the 2017 season would be first and foremost a learning experience for the entire team.
“When he joined the team, Juho was incredibly motivated and involved,” said Mäkinen. “He also understood very clearly that we didn't want to cut any corners and that the 2017 season would be about coming to grips with the championship and learning. He has quite a lot of experience in World Rally Championship, and I'm sure that because he has developed the Yaris WRC from the beginning, he knows the car best. Therefore, it seems to be the perfect combination to me. I know that everyone in the team will do their very best to ensure that all the energy and hard work spent on this project over the last few months bring us success.”

Koei Saga, chief officer and technical director of TOYOTA GAZOO Racing Factory, and also TOYOTA GAZOO Racing WRC Team Vice-Principal, made the following comment:
“I am delighted that Juho will be part of the team for the 2017 season. Juho has been involved in the development of the Yaris WRC since the start of the project. We are looking forward to working together with him as we target a podium finish at the earliest possible opportunity and continue to strive to make ever-better cars.”

Championship Rounds (Provisional)

Posted: October 12, 2016 10:44 AM

  1. Rally Monte Carlo - 19-22 Jan 17
  2. Rally Sweden - 10-12 Feb 17
  3. Rally Mexico - 10-12 Mar 17
  4. Rallye de France - 7-9 Apr 17
  5. Rally Argentina* - 28-30 Apr 17
  6. Rally de Portugal - 19-21 May 17
  7. Rally Italia* - 9-11 June 17
  8. Rally Finland - Date to be confirmed
  9. Rally Germany - Date to be confirmed
  10. Rally Spain - Date to be confirmed
  11. Rally Great Britain - Date to be confirmed
  12. Rally Australia - Date to be confirmed
*Subject to formalisation of agreed terms and conditions between WRC Promoter, FIA and the Event Organiser.

Craig Breen becomes first ever Republic of Ireland driver to secure works seat in World Rally Championship

Posted: October 6, 2016 7:42 AM

Motorsport Ireland has enthusiastically welcomed the announcement by Citroën Racing that rising Irish star Craig Breen will be one of their drivers when the car manufacturer returns as a works team in the FIA World Rally Championship next season. It is the first time that an Irish-licenced driver has been signed to a works team in the WRC.

Waterford man Breen, who came to prominence this season for the Abu Dhabi Total WRT, and his co-driver Scott Martin have been added to the Citroën team along with French driver Stéphane Lefebvre and his co-driver Gabin Moreau. They join Northern Irish driver Kris Meeke and co-driver Paul Nagle (Kerry), who were confirmed on the team at the end of last year.

It means Citroën have two crews considered to be among the most promising young talents in the WRC alongside Dungannon veteran Meeke and Nagle.

Alex Sinclair, CEO Motorsport Ireland said:
“It is an incredible achievement for any driver to secure a works drive. Craig has come through our youth programmes and fought hard over the years to prove himself as one of the world’s best and this is a just reward for all his effort. With Paul Nagle co-driving for Kris Meeke, the representation of Irish competitors, from both the North and South is phenomenal.”

Craig Breen, Citroën Racing works driver, said:
“I’m so excited to tell you all that Scott and I will be driving for Citroën Racing in the WRC for the next two years! This is the stuff that dreams are made of, thank you so much to everybody who has made this possible!”

He has driven for Citroën in a DS 3 in four WRC rounds this year achieving top 10 finishes in each. The season highlights included claiming a maiden podium with third place in Finland and finishing fifth in Corsica last weekend.

Yves Matton, Citroën Racing Team Principal:
“We had several scenarios regarding the choice of our crews for the future. Kris Meeke was confirmed at the end of last year and has become the natural leader of the team.
“In choosing two young crews to complete the line-up, I don’t think we can be accused of having gone for the easy option. But this original solution is very much aligned with Citroën’s mindset. And having seen them compete this season for the Abu Dhabi Total WRT, we believe in the potential of Craig Breen and Stéphane Lefebvre.
They have the natural talent, motivation and work ethic to win rallies. I would also say we are proud to take these young drivers up to the top level of the sport.”

The choice is very much in line with Citroën’s long-held policy aimed at identifying and developing talented young rally drivers. In the last 15 years or more, Citroën has identified some of the best in the business: Loeb, Ogier, Sordo, Neuville, Camilli and of course Meeke. Breen and Lefebvre are destined to add their names to this illustrious list! Citroën Racing continues to prepare for its return as a works team in the FIA World Rally Championship. Since April of this year, the Citroën C3 WRC has completed seven development tests, both on gravel and tarmac, and is now very close to the final version. Already involved in the development of the Citroën C3 WRC, Kris Meeke, Craig Breen, Stéphane Lefebvre and Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi will continue to conduct testing until the new car completes homologation. At the same time, they will be competing at this year’s Rally de España (Meeke, Breen, Al-Qassimi) and Wales Rally GB (Meeke, Breen, Lefebvre) in order to acquire experience driving the current cars.

At the start of the season the team will enter two Citroën C3 WRCs - one for Meeke and the other for either Breen or Lefebvre. The exact distribution of events to drivers will be announced at a later stage and Citroën will start entering three cars as soon as possible.

The FIA’s World Motorsport Council recently decided it would let manufacturers enter three cars, the top two scoring points towards the Manufacturers World Championship.


Posted: October 5, 2016 3:47 AM

Just a few days after the Citroen C3 WRC concept car was unveiled at the Paris Motor Show, Citroen Racing has announced the crews that will be competing for the team in the next two seasons of the FIA World Rally Championship. Already confirmed to drive for the team until 2018, Kris Meeke/Paul Nagle will be joined by Craig Breen/Scott Martin and Stephane Lefebvre/Gabin Moreau. Chairman of Abu Dhabi Racing, Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi will also be competing with his co-driver Chris Patterson at some events in 2017.

Step by step, Citroen Racing continues to assemble the necessary ingredients for its return as a works team in the FIA World Rally Championship. Since April of this year, the Citroen C3 WRC has completed seven development tests, both on gravel and tarmac, and is now very close to the final version.

Until 16 October, visitors to the Paris Motor Show can also admire the Citroen C3 WRC concept car, a veritable exercise in style that heralds the new generation of World Rally Cars, which are set to make their competitive debut at the 2017 Rallye Monte-Carlo.

By announcing now their driver and co-driver line-up for the 2017 and 2018 seasons, Citroen Racing takes another important step forward, one which has been highly anticipated by many WRC observers!

After confirming Kris Meeke and Paul Nagle at the end of last year, the line-up is now completed by two crews considered to be among the most promising young talents in the WRC. Having come to prominence in the rally programmes of the PSA Group and competing this season for the Abu Dhabi Total WRT, Craig Breen/Scott Martin and Stephane Lefebvre/Gabin Moreau convinced Citroen to put their faith in youth.

This choice is very much in line with Citroen's long-held policy aimed at identifying and developing talented young rally drivers. In the last 15 years or more, Citroen has identified some of the best in the business: Loeb, Ogier, Sordo, Neuville, Camilli and of course Meeke. Breen and Lefebvre are destined to add their names to this illustrious list!

At the start of the season, the team will enter two Citroen C3 WRCs: one for Kris Meeke and the other for either Craig Breen or Stephane Lefebvre, who will alternate driving duties. The exact distribution of events to drivers will be announced at a later stage and Citroen will start entering three cars as soon as possible. The FIA's World Motorsport Council recently decided it would let manufacturers enter three cars, the top two scoring points towards the Manufacturers World Championship.

At some rounds of the 2017 World Championship, a fourth Citroen C3 WRC will also be entered for Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi and Chris Patterson.

Already involved in the development of the Citroen C3 WRC, Kris Meeke, Craig Breen, Stephane Lefebvre and Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi will continue to conduct testing until the new car completes homologation. At the same time, they will be competing at this year's Rally de Espasa (Meeke, Breen, Al-Qassimi) and Wales Rally GB (Meeke, Breen, Lefebvre) in order to acquire experience driving the current cars.

Yves Matton, Citroen Racing Team Principal:
"We had several scenarios regarding the choice of our crews for the future. Kris Meeke was confirmed at the end of last year and has become the natural leader of the team. As well as challenging for the lead on each of his appearances in 2016, winning in Portugal and in Finland, he has also done most of the development work for our Citroen C3 WRC. In choosing two young crews to complete the line-up, I don't think we can be accused of having gone for the easy option. But this original solution is very much aligned with Citroen's mindset. And having seen them compete this season for the Abu Dhabi Total WRT, we believe in the potential of Craig Breen and Stephane Lefebvre. They have the natural talent, motivation and work ethic to win rallies. I would also say we are proud to take these young drivers – who have been with the PSA Group for many years – up to the top level of the sport. At the start of the season, we'll have no choice but to have them take turns behind the wheel in the second Citroen C3 WRC. However, as soon as possible, our three crews will be starting each round. Sheikh Khalid Al-Qassimi is a true ambassador for rallying in the Middle-East and we are very pleased to support him in his approach."

Microsoft and Toyota Join Forces in FIA World Rally Championship

Posted: September 29, 2016 10:22 AM

Today at the Paris Motor Show, Toyota announced it has reached an agreement with Microsoft to collaborate in the 2017 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) series. As part of the agreement, Microsoft will serve as a “technology partner” for the TOYOTA GAZOO Racing WRC rally team.

Motorsports offer an important way to convey the excitement of driving, and are at the heart of Toyota's efforts to foster a greater following of car fans and enthusiasts. Conducting these activities under the umbrella of TOYOTA GAZOO Racing allows Toyota to develop its people and improve its products, thereby contributing to the creation of “ever-better cars”. Under the leadership of Team Principal Tommi Mäkinen, Toyota is developing a rally vehicle scheduled to begin competing in 2017.

Using Microsoft technology, Toyota wants to maximize its competitiveness in WRC, whilst ensuring that learnings from the race course can be used to achieve the company's vision of designing and manufacturing “ever-better cars”.

Microsoft will support TOYOTA GAZOO Racing in three key areas:
Development of a data analysis platform to gather, visualize and analyse various data related to driving which will be utilised in race activities.
Creation of a team information-sharing system to allow team members to collaborate and share various materials such as images and videos efficiently and effectively using a cloud service.
Enhancement of communication with fans through providing services utilizing the cloud and using Microsoft's display devices to provide them with a front-row motorsports experience.
Today's announcement builds on the existing partnership between Toyota and Microsoft. Most recently, the two companies collaborated on the establishment of Toyota Connected, a new user experience and product-development company aimed at expanding, collecting and analysing large amounts of vehicle data to help further improve quality, safety and the driving and ownership experience for Toyota customers.

Toyota President Akio Toyoda said:
“I believe that, like Toyota, Microsoft aims to enrich society in meaningful ways. Based on the on-going partnership, we aim to further develop our people and enhance our cars through the use of IT in motorsports to promote ‘ever-better cars'.”

Toyota understands the important role that information technology must play in order to further accelerate the development of the automotive industry. Gathering valuable data will help lay the foundation for the future of sustainable mobility. This, in turn, will help create a society in which everyone can live at ease, safely and freely. Another important contributor to a safer automotive future is the Toyota Research Institute1 (TRI), which is focused on artificial intelligence for automobiles, robotics and scientific discovery. TRI is bringing to life Toyota's vision of autonomous driving, which follows a double approach. The first type of application is ‘Chauffeur Mode', where the car is fully autonomous. It has the potential to offer mobility to those who would not otherwise have it, such as older people and those with special needs. In order to accomplish this safely, it is estimated that some 14.2 billion kilometres2 of testing, including simulation, are required. Microsoft is an important partner in the test-mile accumulation, since a lot of the work can be done through multi-agent simulation.

The second application of autonomous driving that Toyota is pursuing is the ‘Guardian Mode' or high-level driver assist. This technology is a further evolution of current safety mechanisms such as Toyota Safety Sense, and is designed to support the driver as necessary, even taking over the car in certain circumstances. The knowledge that they have this safety net, will enable customers to enjoy their drive to the fullest.

The Toyota Research Institute, Toyota Connected and Microsoft are united in their efforts to use cutting edge technology to establish safer, cleaner and more convenient mobility.

Three more like-minded partners to support the TOYOTA GAZOO Racing WRC team

The Yaris WRC Test Car that was driven on the Paris Motor Show stage by 4-time WRC champion Tommi Mäkinen didn't only reveal Microsoft as the technology partner for the TOYOTA GAZOO Racing WRC team. In addition to Michelin, who is the team tyre supplier, the car also carried the logos of the DMG MORI and Panasonic Corporation, two companies that relate to Toyota's vision on motorsports, and that have partnered with Toyota for its 2017 WRC endeavour.

1 The Toyota Research Institute (TRI) was first announced in November 2015, and is a research and development enterprise focused on artificial intelligence for automobiles, robotics and scientific discovery. Funded by an initial commitment of 1 billion USD over the next 5 years, TRI will help bridge the gap between fundamental research and product development.

2 Figure based on the RAND Corporation study to establish the amount of testing required to demonstrate the failure rate of autonomous vehicles to a particular degree of precision.


Posted: August 3, 2016 9:45 AM

Following 12 months of intense development, the first prototype of the 2017 Ecoboost-powered Ford Fiesta RS WRC took to the stages last month.

Embarking on a relentless test schedule that will see the car take to roads the length and breadth of Europe, a series of comprehensive preliminary tests have been completed at M-Sport’s private test facility in Cumbria.

As is the case with all cars designed and developed at Dovenby Hall, Managing Director Malcolm Wilson OBE was keen to get behind the wheel.

Checking the progress and development of the team’s latest creation, Wilson was back in the driving seat before the team travelled to Rally Finland last week; after which experienced driver Martin Prokop took over the testing duties.

The new-for-2017 regulations mark a new era for the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) and not since the Fiesta RS WRC was first launched in 2011 has the championship seen such a revolution in terms of technical design and innovation.

The latest creations are expected to be 55mm wider than the current world rally cars, 10kgs lighter and with more aerodynamic freedoms that hark back to the iconic Group B cars of the 1980s.

The first prototype focuses on mechanical components – running the suspension, drivetrain, transmission and engine – with aero updates to follow in due course.

Having undergone a complete redesign, the 2017 Fiesta has been created from a clean sheet of paper and no stone has been left unturned as M-Sport’s team of skilled designers and engineers assessed every aspect of the new regulations to gain optimum performance in all areas.

A 36mm restrictor is expected to deliver 380bhp – that’s 60hp more than the current cars – and a central differential provides improved handling.

After producing the record-breaking Ford Focus RS RX in just six months – which went on to secure three podiums and two wins for the Hoonigan Racing Division in just six races – M-Sport’s close collaboration with Ford Performance continues and all WRC design resources are now fully focused on the 2017 Fiesta.

With the project on schedule, initial tests have been encouraging and the team’s hopes of producing another winning car alongside their valued partners are high.

M-Sport Managing Director, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:
“Whenever a new car gets its first run out in the forest there is always an air of excitement, and rightly so. Time and again we have proven that we have the engineering expertise to produce winning cars, and the initial findings suggest that this one will be no different.

“This is only the first prototype but the speed really is incredible. We’re still fine-tuning the aero-package with our colleagues at Ford, but we have been able to run all of the mechanical components on the current bodyshell and the first tests have only strengthened my confidence in our ability to produce a winning car.”


Posted: July 23, 2016 5:19 AM

Three months after its first outing, Citroën Racing’s World Rally Car 2017 has made its asphalt début. On the bumpy roads of Aude in southern France, Kris Meeke and Stéphane Lefebvre learned how the car behaves on the surface.

By opting to hold the first development sessions on gravel, the Citroën Racing engineers had given priority to a surface used in the majority of World Rally Championship events.
“By test-driving the car in the toughest conditions first, we were able to check the reliability of all the components,” explained Citroën Racing Technical Director Laurent Fregosi. “What is more, there isn’t just one type of gravel. Finland and Mexico offer completely different surfaces. So we wanted to explore that diversity by testing the car on asphalt, where the operating window is narrower.”

In terms of the regulations, the differences between a WRC’s gravel and asphalt setups are minimal, but they are vital.
“The biggest change is in the suspension,” Fregosi continued. “We use lighter parts that allow us to reduce the ground clearance. The drivetrain kinematics are also adapted to the 18? wheels. Large wheels mean we can increase brake disc diameter and use water-cooled callipers. We should also mention the lighter body protection. On the aerodynamic front, we now have the ability to adapt the lower part of the front bumper specifically for asphalt.”

“During this first session, we worked in particular on the programming of the centre differential,” explained the engineer. “The aim is to distribute power between the front and rear axles according to the situation. Obviously, the settings will be different from one surface to another. The drivers were also able to assess the effects of mechanical parameters, such as spring stiffness, the anti-roll bar and the differential. Overall, the results were positive and we know where we are at. Once again, the car’s reliability allowed us to get plenty of kilometres in.”

“It’s exciting to be driving the WRC on asphalt for the first time,” said Kris Meeke. “Citroën Racing has always made really good cars for this surface and I think this will be no exception! On tarmac, you can really feel the changes introduced as a result of the new regulations, such as the higher power, the increased width, the power of the brakes… We are continuing the programme as planned and each run teaches us a little bit more. Every phase of the project is just as exciting as the last!”

Now with two dedicated chassis for development tests, Citroën Racing will be intensifying its testing programme over the next few weeks. On gravel and asphalt alike, the engineers and drivers are focused on their main objective: Rallye Monte-Carlo on 16 January 2017!


Posted: June 19, 2016 10:10 AM

On schedule, Citroën Racing has completed initial testing of the car that will be entered by the brand in the World Rally Championship from next season. On the gravel roads around the Château de Lastours and then in Fontjoncouse, Kris Meeke has already tested the reliability and performances of this new generation model.

First and foremost, it is worth remembering what a 2017-spec World Rally Car actually is. Because compared with the models that first appeared in 2011 the change is set to be dramatic, for eyes and ears alike! 55mm wider, the bodywork enjoys great aerodynamic freedom, with a front bumper fitted with a splitter, prominent air inlets and outlets, a rear diffuser, and so on. It is no accident that comparisons have been made with the legendary Group B cars of the 1980s!

Under the bonnet, the 1.6-litre direct injection turbo engine is now fitted with a 36mm booster flange, like the Citroën C-Elysée WTCCs. With some 380bhp under the right-hand pedal, the drivers will be able to savour the power on offer, especially as the minimum regulatory weight has been reduced by 25kg and the four-wheel drive now comes with a central differential that improves traction…

You think that sounds exciting? Well, that’s hardly surprising! This new generation of World Rally Cars has been designed by FIA and the manufacturers to given the WRC new impetus. After announcing its return to the category in 2017, Citroën is now determined to play a full part in breathing new life into the WRC, with the aim of winning rallies and adding to its collection of world titles.

Just for the record, the very first outing of the brand’s latest model was held on Saturday, 9 April in Versailles on the small track right next to Citroën Racing’s Satory site. Alexandre Bengué, the team’s test driver, was handed the responsibility of completing the first few miles. The following Monday, Kris Meeke got behind the wheel of the prototype for another shakedown session. As he climbed out of the car at the end of his first run, the Northern Irishman’s wide grin spoke volumes about how much he had enjoyed driving the new car!

Overseen by Laurent Fregosi, Citroën Racing’s new Technical Director, the development team then headed for the south of France for the first proper test session. Engineers Alexis Avril (project manager) and Didier Clément (chief operations’ engineer) didn’t go for the easy option in choosing the roads around Château de Lastours and Fontjoncouse as the base for testing. Regularly used by cross-country rally vehicles, the rocky gravel roads provided a demanding environment in which to test the strength of the chassis, the suspension, the gearbox and the bodywork.

To hide the aerodynamic features as much as possible, Citroën Racing’s latest creation was decorated with a special “camouflage” livery, with a red, white and black pattern created by Citroën’s design office. At 9.12am on Thursday, 14 April, Kris Meeke and Paul Nagle began the test programme defined by the team. Although this moment represented an achievement of sorts for the engineers and technicians in charge of designing and building this first version, it also marked the start of a new adventure!

Without ever losing his broad smile, Kris Meeke switched between testing sessions and technical debriefings. Whilst racking up the miles to flush out the inevitable teething problems, he also tried hard to analyse the reactions of the car to changes in the set-up.

On the fourth day, Kris handed over driving responsibilities to Craig Breen. Tasked with analysing the work done using his own experience and feeling, the talented young Abu Dhabi Total WRT driver turned out to be just as enthusiastic about the potential and performances of this new generation World Rally Car!

Back in Versailles, the team now has to go through and analyse the gigabytes of data acquired and prepare the changes that will be made in time for the next test session. Where and when? Watch this space!


What do these initial test mean for the team?
“It is one of the major stages in a project of this size. The lead-times established for the design phase were very tight. Thanks to its expertise and experience, the team has done a fantastic job to design a car based on the new regulations. Having seen our World Rally Car begin road testing on schedule and complete runs without experiencing any major problems, we can take our time in confirming the upcoming milestones. Once again, what the men and women at Citroën Racing have achieved is quite exceptional.”

What are your impressions, having seen the car in action?
“It is very much in line with what we had imagined when we talked about the new regulations, which were devised to make the cars more spectacular. All the factors we had wanted to improve – the noise, impression of speed and aggressive design – are already in evidence, even though this was only the car’s very first test outing! I think rally fans are going to like the new generation of WRCs.”

It may not be one of the points that has been given the most attention, but these new cars are also safer…
“The FIA has been working on improving safety for a number of years and we are supportive of this approach. As far as we’re concerned, we have always been something of a pioneer in this field, even if it has meant imposing additional restrictions on ourselves. It will be no different with this car, which will be even safer than its predecessor.”

Does having competed in a track racing championship in the last few years represent an advantage or a disadvantage?
“We have never strayed far from the WRC and have been constantly updating our knowledge base. Our WTCC programme will be a bonus, because it will enable us to have a different approach. Before, we had virtually no real experience in aerodynamics. It is now a field in which we have genuine expertise. Similarly, we have an engine that has been running for more than two years with a similar power level and lifespan to those stipulated in the WRC specifications. All of this will be beneficial for the rest of the development phase and when it comes to running the car.”

What are the next key stages for the project?
“We are going to continue testing on gravel and then we’ll begin testing on tarmac. One of the key stages will be the point at which we set the technical definition to start building the cars that will be competing in 2017.”


You are surrounded by a lot of people at this first test session, with several engineers and technicians working on the car…
“Yes, everyone is absolutely 100% committed and it’s fantastic! When I joined the Citroën Racing fold two years ago, the priority was the WTCC and the development of the WRC was fairly limited. Now, you can feel there’s a real energy, with engineers coming back to rally with experience they have gathered on the track. The Citroën Racing machine is up and running at full power and that motivates me to work even harder. Together, we can all do something really special in the future!”

How did your first outing in the car feel?
“It’s always exciting to drive a car for the first time. But this is different, this is the start of a major new programme for Citroën Racing and new era for the WRC. That’s what makes this moment so special. I know that everyone has put in a lot of work to build this new car. So it’s special for them too! Now, we’re moving into a new stage of the process and it’s up to me to step up to the plate.”

This new generation of cars have been frequently compared to the Group B cars. What do you think?
“Obviously, it’s a period of the history of rallying that everyone remembers with affection. The cars were spectacular, with their bold design and big spoilers. We’re returning to that spirit, with more aggressively-designed cars but adding in the technological advances that we now have in 2016. Having driven one or two Group B cars, I can confirm that there really is no comparison. The potential of our new World Rally Car is incredible!”

What did you feel when you started to push?
“With the power and the aerodynamic efficiency, these cars are fascinating. After my first run, one of the mechanics filmed the expression on my face. I didn’t realise it at the time, but the big smile on my face spoke volumes about how much I had enjoyed driving the new car!”

There are not many of you who are able to speak in practical terms about this increase in performance. Is it really a good thing for rallying?
“I’ve always thought that aerodynamics shouldn’t become too important, because rallying shouldn’t become like track racing. I think we have a good balance and these cars will be just as exciting to drive as to watch. But I think the human factor will become more important than it is currently. In my opinion, the 2017 WRCs must remain exclusive to the World Championship, like the F1 cars or the MotoGP bikes.”

These increased performances go hand in hand with improved safety…
“Every year, even if the regulations remain unchanged, we always go a little bit quicker. You can’t stop technology from moving on. This new generation will enable us to make a big step forward in terms of the safety of the cockpit and protection in the event of a side impact. We’re heading in the right direction.”

Let’s finish with the most important aspect: what was the feeling like on gravel?
“As soon as we set off, I felt that I was driving a genuine rallying machine, a well-designed car. I have been involved in the development of several cars in my time; generally speaking, you spend more time waiting around than driving in the first few test sessions. But with this, I was able to rack up the miles and start to explore the set-up options. It was like a dream!”


Posted: May 17, 2016 9:24 AM

Three weeks after the first outing, Citroën Racing continued development of its 2017 World Rally Car in the south of Portugal. Faced with a variety of weather conditions, Kris Meeke and Stéphane Lefebvre racked up the miles during four days of testing.

After holding the first test in the south of France, Citroën Racing headed for Portugal and the Algarve for the second session of development testing for its 2017 World Rally Car. The team were treated to rain, hail, fog and even occasional sunshine as they worked on the new car. Before contesting Rally de Portugal with the Abu Dhabi Total World Rally Team, Kris Meeke/Paul Nagle and Stéphane Lefebvre/Gabin Moreau were busy behind the wheel of the prototype produced by the Versailles Technical Centre.

“We were actually quite pleased to have these variable conditions because they meant we could test different set-ups and assess how the bodywork stood up to being loaded with mud,” explained Laurent Fregosi, Citroën Racing’s Technical Director. “During the tests, we have several objectives. Obviously, we want to check the reliability of the various components. The mileage done by each part is noted down to make sure it tallies with the specifications. But our work is also focussed on looking for performance and driver comfort.”

After graduating in Engineering at INSA Lyon, Laurent Fregosi joined Citroën Racing in 1995, when the ZX Grand Raid dominated the Dakar Rally. He has therefore worked on every rally programme since the Xsara Kit-Car. Appointed Chief Engineer, Chassis, in 2005, Laurent took over from Xavier Mestelan-Pinon at the start of the year. Involved for over a year on the 2017 programme, the new Technical Director reflected on the origins of the car.

“Seeing our World Rally Car complete two long test sessions on demanding surfaces without encountering any major problems is very satisfying and just rewards for those who have been working on this project for over a year,” emphasized Laurent Fregosi. “As always, we began by drawing up a set of specifications, based on the FIA regulations and the Brand’s marketing goals. Once we had chosen the base model, we retrieved the CAD data in order to define the layout of the main components: engine, transmission, fuel tank, spare wheel, etc. The design of the roll cage stemmed from all these volumes as well as the regulatory position of the crew.”

Called on to produce the initial drawings, the design office then went to work on designing each part:
“The approach is always the same: design hard-wearing, light components, whilst implicitly looking to adjust and lower the centre of gravity. The crews, as well as the engineers and technicians that will be running the car, were asked to give their opinion. We still need, for example, to improve the removal of parts that are likely to be replaced in service.”

“As ever, the work done factored in the experience acquired over the last twenty years or so at the highest level of world rallying. But we also added to our knowledge base by completing tests with a DS 3 WRC development mule,” revealed Laurent Fregosi. “Having reduced the pace of its development in 2014, we wanted to try out a few new solutions for the future. We used a Citroën C-Elysée WTCC engine, which meant the car immediately possessed the same power level as we’ll see next year. We also tested the latest suspension systems.”

Once approved by the Computation Design Office, the drawings were handed over to the various workshops (transmission, suspension-steering-brakes, electronics, plastic components, etc.) to manufacture the parts and then fit the sub-assemblies.

Packed into less than a month, the assembly of the first prototype involved the efforts of various teams:
“It was a critical moment because some components took a long time to manufacture. In the workshops, the technicians adopted a just-in-time approach, so that we would be ready on schedule. Although we have already completed two test sessions, we’ve only just begun the journey. Analysing the data and driver feedback helps us to develop the technical definition whilst selecting the most efficient solutions. As the same time, we are also preparing a second car, which will be shortly used for testing on tarmac. This iterative way of working – which affects all areas, from the chassis to the engine, including the transmission and the aerodynamics – will continue until we need to obtain homologation of the car for the 2017 Rallye Monte-Carlo. That point seems so far away, and yet it’ll be here before we know it!”

The Volkswagen for a new era of rallying: development of the 2017 Polo R WRC enters crucial phase

Posted: April 12, 2016 5:51 AM

A taste of things to come in a new era of rallying: Volkswagen gives an insight into the next generation of the Polo R WRC. The FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) steps into a promising future in 2017. More powerful, faster, and more spectacular - the Polo R WRC will generate about 380 hp/280 kW in the future. That is roughly 60 hp/45 kW more than the current car (318 hp/235 kW). Lighter, wider, and with more aerodynamic freedom - the Volkswagen designers have produced a visual concept, which reveals how the Polo R WRC may appear in the coming season. Volkswagen has been developing the third generation of the Polo R WRC since summer 2015, when the International Automobile Federation (FIA) released the new regulations for the highest class of rallying in the world. Having already successfully tested key components in the current chassis, development of Volkswagen's third World Rally Car now enters the crucial phase.

"The 2017 WRC regulations include many spectacular technical innovations for the World Rally Championship," said Volkswagen Motorsport Director Jost Capito. "The World Rally Cars of the future will incorporate all the experience that teams have gained in recent years. They will be considerably more dynamic, whilst at the same time being safer. As usual, we are working painstakingly on the development of the next generation of the Polo R WRC. The key between now and the start of next season is to achieve the best possible prerequisites to allow the 2017 Polo R WRC to be as successful as its two predecessors."

An even greater spectacle for the fans: the new generation of World Rally Cars

About 50 millimetres wider, 25 kilograms lighter, and roughly 380 hp/280 kW more powerful - that is the key data for the 2017 rally Polo. The increase in performance of about 60 hp/45 kW is achieved by widening the air restrictor from 33 millimetres, as it is at present, to 36 millimetres. Furthermore, electronic centre differential can now be used for the power transmission. The most visually striking changes are the larger rear wing and broader front spoiler. The minimum length of the car is now 3,900 millimetres, whilst the minimum weight is reduced from 1,200 to 1,175 kilograms.

Although the new technical components have already been applied in numerous tests, the appearance of the Polo R WRC will still change significantly by the start of the season at the Rally Monte Carlo in January 2017. Whilst the final phase of development of the Polo R WRC is already underway, Volkswagen currently tops the standings in all of the classifications in this year's world championship, having won the first three rallies of the season. The team from Wolfsburg's next outing is the fourth WRC round of the year - the Rally Argentina (21-24 April 2016).

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