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2020 World Rally Championship

Posted: January 21, 2020 3:21 PM - 2802 Hits

Revised Calendar

Posted: January 20, 2020 5:39 AM

Chile - 16-19 Apr 20 - CANCELLED
Argentina - DATE CHANGE 23-26 Apr 20 (Was 30 Apr-3 May 20)

See full calendar below.

COMPETITIVE FIELD ENTERED FOR 2020 FIA JUNIOR WRC CHAMPIONSHIP includes Jon Armstrong / Noel O’Sullivan

Posted: January 17, 2020 12:09 PM

The 2020 FIA Junior WRC Championship has accepted 16 entries for the opening round on Rally Sweden, representing a diverse selection of rallying’s next generation of superstars.

The 16 crews looking to be the next star of the FIA World Rally Championship represent 11 different countries across Europe and South America. Seven of 2019’s FIA Junior WRC crews return for 2020 including 2019 championship runner-up and Rookie Award winner, Tom Kristensson.

This year’s entrants will be vying for the biggest prize in rallying; the keys to an Ecoboost-powered M-Sport Fiesta R5 Mk II, 200 Pirelli tyres, free registration for WRC 3 in 2021 and five free WRC 3 entries in 2021. Should the 2020 champion go on to win the 2021 WRC 3 championship, they will then be awarded two drives with the M-Sport Ford World Rally Team in 2022.

The prize package underlines FIA Junior WRC as a firm part M-Sport’s ‘Ladder of Opportunity’ that provides young and budding rally drivers a clear path to succeed in rallying on the world stage. Four of the 2020 FIA Junior WRC drivers come by way of M-Sport’s FIA Junior WRC scholarship, which sees talented junior drivers from national championships awarded a significant scholarship package for the 2020 season. This year’s M-Sport FIA Junior WRC scholarship drivers are: Ruairi Bell (Britain), Sami Pajari (Finland), Marco Pollara (Italy) and Ken Torn (Estonia). To emphasise the importance of the ‘Ladder of Opportunity’ to M-Sport, this year’s FIA Junior WRC livery has taken inspiration from the official livery of the M-Sport World Rally Team.

Of the nine new crews joining FIA Junior WRC for the first time in 2020, three of which will be making their WRC event debuts in Sweden, five will be eligible for the highly competitive Rookie Award. The Rookie Award will see the highest placed rookie in the 2020 championship collect a €15,000 prize to go towards their 2021 FIA Junior WRC campaign.

    Fabio Andolfi IT / Savoia Stefano IT
    Andolfi is by far the most experienced driver in the 2020 FIA Junior WRC Championship, with 33 WRC event starts. His career highlights include a WRC 2 victory on Tour de Corse and a podium spot on Rally Turkey in 2019 which led to him finishing fifth in the 2019 FIA WRC 2 Championship.

    Jon Armstrong GB / Noel O’Sullivan IE
    With an impressive rally esports career, 2018 WRC eSports champion Armstrong is no stranger to the real world of rallying with a strong resume heading into the 2020 season. He has experience on WRC events, proving himself as a competitive driver in two-wheel and four-wheel drive machinery thanks to a top ten finish in WRC 2 on Rally Spain in 2017 and two Drive D-Mack Fiesta Trophy victories in 2016.

    Raul Badiu RO / Gabriel Lazar RO
    Badiu enters his second full season of FIA Junior WRC in 2020, after a cameo appearance on Rally Turkey for the finale of the 2018 championship and competing in four rounds of the 2019 championship. The Romanian demonstrated raw speed on all three surfaces FIA Junior WRC competed on throughout 2019, posting top-three stage times and earning a career best of fourth on Rally d’Italia Sardegna.

    Ruairi Bell GB / Darren Garrod GB
    Bell might be used to the stop-start traffic of Central London, which is where he currently calls home, but that somehow worked to his benefit in 2019 after contesting a double championship campaign. He won the M-Sport Fiesta FIA Junior WRC scholarship in the British Rally Championship and also finished top RC4 driver on Rally de Portugal.

    Tommaso Ciuffi IT / Nicolo Gonella IT
    2019 saw Ciuffi produce an impressive set of results in the Italian national championship, finishing top two-wheel drive car on six occasions including Rally di Roma Capitale where he was first in the RC4 class. Ciuffi has three WRC event starts to his name, all on Rally d’Italia Sardegna between 2017 and 2019.

    Lauri Joona FI / Ari Koponen FI*
    Joona made his WRC debut in 2019 on Rally Finland and was able to demonstrate a competitive pace against the FIA Junior WRC field, classifying third among all RC4 class cars entered. In addition to having his first taste of a WRC event, Joona finished second in the 2019 Finnish Junior Rally Championship. Prior to his rallying career, Joona was a keen photographer on Finnish rallies.

    Tom Kristensson SE / Joakim Sjöberg SE
    Kristensson was a consistent FIA Junior WRC title contender in 2019 and led the championship for the majority of the season but ultimately finished second, winning the 2019 Rookie Award. He seized a total of 14 stage wins and proved his pace on all three surfaces that the championship competes on. His largest strength was consistency, taking two victories (Sweden and Finland) and was the only FIA Junior WRC driver to finish on the podium at every stop on the calendar.

    Catie Munnings GB / TBC*
    Munnings will make her WRC event debut on Rally Sweden after a total of 18 starts in the European Rally Championship between 2016 and 2019. She has a total of seven ERC Ladies victories as well as the 2016 ERC Ladies Championship.

    Pontus Lönnström SE / Stefan Gustavsson SE*
    Lonnstrom will make his FIA Junior WRC debut in 2020 after winning back to back Swedish Junior Rally Championships in 2018 and 2019. He already has two WRC events under his belt, most recently on Rally Spain in 2019 to help him gain WRC tarmac experience in preparation for his 2020 FIA Junior WRC campaign.

    Marco Pollara IT /Maurizio Messina IT*
    Pollara enters the 2020 FIA Junior WRC Championship as the 2019 Italian Junior Champion, taking four victories and a total of five podiums out of six rounds in 2019. His one and only WRC event start was on Rally d’Italia Sardegna in 2019 which was part of the 2019 Italian Junior championship in which he won his category.

    Sami Pajari FI / Antti Haapala FI*
    At just 18 years old Pajari is entering his first full season of FIA Junior WRC in 2020 after winning both parts of the 2019 AKK Flying Finn Future Star Award. Despite his young age, Pajari won back to back Finnish Rally Championships; U18 Champion in 2018 and Finnish Junior Champion in 2019. Pajari has one FIA Junior WRC start to his name already after entering Rally Finland in 2019 where he took two stage wins.

    Enrico Oldrati IT / Elia de Guio IT
    Oldrati will embark upon his third season in FIA Junior WRC in 2020, but it is also only his third season of rallying to date. His FIA Junior WRC highlight so far came on 2018 Rally de Portugal where he scored an impressive second place demonstrating extraordinary progress in such a short space of time. This season, Oldrati is focussed on improving his pace and securing top-five results.

    Oscar Solberg NO / Jim Hjerpe SE
    The son of Henning Solberg and nephew to Petter Solberg, 2003 World Rally Champion, rallying is certainly a way of life for Oscar Solberg. He has seven previous WRC event starts, all in a Fiesta R2, and he finished third in the 2017 British Junior Rally Championship, picking up one victory and nine stage wins along the way.

    Martins Sesks LV / Renars Francis LV
    Sesks had a difficult rookie season in the 2019 FIA Junior WRC Championship, despite setting fastest stage times on two out of the four rounds he contested. He established himself as an early championship contender during Rally Sweden, taking the fight to hometown hero Dennis Radstrom, but his best result of the season came by way of fifth on Rally d’Italia Sardegna.

    Ken Torn EE / Kauri Pannas EE
    With a rallying career that began in the 2008 Estonian Youth Rally championship, Torn had an impressive debut FIA Junior WRC season in 2018, finishing fifth in the championship. 2018 saw him take victory on Rally Finland with stage wins on four out of five rallies. Torn’s 2019 campaign was short-lived, taking two stage wins on his way to tenth place on Rally Sweden and retiring from Tour de Corse before calling time on his 2019 FIA Junior WRC campaign.

    Fabrizio Zaldivar PY / Fernando Mussano AR
    2019 Rally Sweden was an event of many firsts for Zaldivar, he celebrated his eighteenth birthday just days before the start of the event and it was his first time driving on snow and ice. The Paraguayan improved his pace on every rally and by the last round of the season was able to secure fifth on Wales Rally GB, the best result of his FIA Junior WRC career to date.

    *eligible for Rookie Award
Maciej Woda, FIA Junior WRC Team Director, said:
“This amount of entries for the start of the season in Junior WRC speaks volumes about the success of the championship. With the biggest prize package in rallying for the 2020 champion, FIA Junior WRC is the perfect stepping stone for any driver wishing to establish themselves in the FIA World Rally Championship. With our key partners Ford, Pirelli and Wolf Lubricants all heavily engaged in rally activities throughout every level of the sport, FIA Junior WRC is the most accessible championship that gives a great introduction to all aspects of the WRC. We have a very impressive lineup of entries for the opening round of the season in Sweden that is also balanced in terms of returning and fresh faces. I am really excited about the championship fight ahead having followed all of the this year’s crews closely in previous years. I know what each driver is capable of which should make the 2020 FIA Junior WRC Championship fight the most competitive yet.”

WRC ACTION FOR THE CITROEN C3 R5 IN 2020

Posted: January 9, 2020 11:54 AM

Citroën Racing is to continue competing in the FIA World Rally Championship in association with its leading C3 R5 customers, beginning with this month’s Rallye Monte-Carlo and concluding in November in Japan after taking in many of the WRC’s classic fixtures. This stepped up programme with the C3 R5 will see development of the car – which has been ongoing since 2018 – continue in order to provide customers with an increasingly competitive car.

PH Sport’s Mads Østberg and Yohan Rossel will benefit from official backing from Citroën Racing and its partners Total and Michelin on respectively eight and six rounds of this year’s FIA World Rally Championship, with the French youngster enjoying additional support from the FFSA (Fédération Française de Sport Automobile). Nicolas Ciamin and Eric Camilli will also have assistance for the Rallye Monte-Carlo. Including private entries, a total of six C3 R5s are poised to start the 87th running of the WRC’s winter classic.

Citroën Racing will be providing support for promising Frenchman Yohan Rossel, winner of last season’s French Rally Championship at first attempt in a C3 R5. As victor of the 208 RALLY CUP in 2018, Yohan earned a full campaign in his national series in 2019 and ended up clinching the crown on his home event, the Critérium des Cévennes. For 2020, the 24-year old will be part of the Equipe de France FFSA squad and will take part in six WRC3 events with the aim of learning and producing consistent performances. Co-driven by Benoît Fulcrand, his programme will kick off with the Rallye Monte-Carlo, before switching to gravel in Portugal, Italy and Finland, and concluding with Rallye Deutschland and Rally GB.

Mads Østberg and his co-driver Torstein Eriksen, who will team up with the French pair at PH Sport, have a calendar of eight WRC2 outings. The Norwegian is already familiar with the car following a season in WRC2 Pro in 2019 which he wrapped up with a class victory in Catalonia. Mads has considerable experience of the World Rally Championship thanks to a career spanning more than 10 years. In 2020, the Scandinavian pair has set its sights on the WRC2 title and will contest the same six events at Yohan Rossel/Benoît Fulcrand, along with trips to Sweden and Japan.

The entry for the 2020 Rallye Monte-Carlo features four other C3 R5s, including one for Nicolas Ciamin who also plans to travel to six WRC3 rounds this season. The list continues with Yoann Bonato who made a considerable contribution to the car’s development in collaboration with Citroën Racing’s technical department. He is targeting a programme of several rallies this year, although the exact choice has yet to be settled. Eric Camilli, who topped the WRC2 class (since renamed WRC3) in Catalonia last autumn, will also drive a C3 R5 on the Rallye Monte-Carlo, as will the outgoing Spanish champion Pepe Lopez.

The above French and Norwegian crews all attended a recent week-long test organised in the French Alps by Citroën Racing to help finetune their preparations for the Monaco classic which promises to be as fiercely fought as ever this time around.

QUOTE, UNQUOTE…

Yohan Rossel (WRC3):
“I am thrilled to be continuing my adventure with PSA Motorsport with backing from the FFSA [Fédération Française de Sport Automobile]. Thanks to Citroën and Peugeot one-make championships, we have managed to work our way up the ladder and we now have the good fortune to be embarking on our first full world-class season with help from Citroën, Total and Michelin. We have so much to learn and our aim is to stay clear of trouble and finish well at the end of the year. I am delighted to be teaming up with Mads. His experience of the world championship will clearly be a big help, especially on the Monte Carlo where tyre choice is such a big challenge. I won the two-wheel drive class on this event last year and I’m looking forward to seeing what it’s like with four-wheel drive!”

Mads Østberg (WRC2):
“It’s great to be continuing with everyone in the team. We worked hard on the car’s development last year, with the main evolutions notably concerning its brakes, suspension and engine performance. That should give us a certain edge in 2020. Along with Torstein, our aim is to win as many rounds as possible and claim the title. I am very happy that our cooperation with Citroën is continuing and it’s nice to be joining forces with Yohan. It’s always positive to have a team-mate. I can hardly wait for this year’s Rallye Monte-Carlo to get the season under way. We will do our absolute best to come away with a strong result.”

Didier Clément (Customer Competition Manager, Citroën Racing):
“Last season, our ongoing work on the C3 R5 allowed us to notch up numerous wins. For 2020, our objectives are to keep up the development momentum, step up our involvement in the sport’s leading national and international championships and provide our drivers with the means to shine in the C3 R5. The Rallye Monte-Carlo has long been an iconic event for Citroën and we are very glad to have the benefit of the experience and speed of Mads Østberg who will team up with the talented Yohan Rossel. They are joined on the entry list by four other drivers who are just as ambitious and competitive as them. We are obviously pleased with the strong interest the C3 R5 has generated and we are eager to see it perform on this prestigious but also exacting rally.”

YATES JOINS M-SPORT FORD IN WRC 2

Posted: January 9, 2020 10:01 AM

M-Sport Ford will run a pair of EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta R5 MkIIs in the FIA World Rally Championship’s premier support series this year – Britain’s Rhys Yates teaming up with Adrien Fourmaux for a full campaign in the WRC 2 category.

Yates announced his programme at Autosport International, and will contest eight events behind the wheel of M-Sport’s latest global rally car. Getting his season underway at the season opener in Monte-Carlo, the Englishman will be partnered by Welsh co-driver James Morgan.

Yates learned his craft on two wheels, competing through his teenage years on and off-road at a high level of bike racing – before switching to rallying in 2013.

Once installed in a rally car, he progressed rapidly through the ranks at home, winning the English Rally Championship title at the wheel of a Ford Fiesta R2 in his first full season in the sport (2015). Since then, the 27-year-old has been at the forefront of British rallying – he also became the first Brit to win Rally van Wervik in Belgium in 2018.

Yates stepped up to the world stage for a six-round WRC 2 campaign in 2019 and made an immediate impression on the established order, finishing fourth on his maiden Rallye Monte-Carlo and fifth on his first visit to the Tour de Corse.

Year two of his world-stage campaign is about building on that experience and further demonstrating burgeoning speed at the sport’s highest level. Team Principal, Richard Millener, said:

“It’s great to welcome Rhys into the team and I’m looking forward to seeing how he develops over the course of the year. He has the work ethic to go far, and I know that he and James will put everything into their programme to ensure they realise their potential. Having gained good knowledge of a number of events last year, he’s ready to mount a challenge for the top results and we plan to help him achieve that goal.”

Rhys Yates said:
“Walking through the doors at Dovenby Hall you can’t fail to be impressed and humbled by the history and performance created in those buildings. It’s an amazing place and a real honour to be driving in the M-Sport Ford team this year.

“I know I’ve still got stuff to learn in this sport, but M-Sport’s just the best place to do that learning. I’m looking forward to being able to lean on that experience and knowledge. I’m also looking forward to getting my head down, putting some times in and chasing some results.

“Last year was all about finding my feet at the next level. I did that, stuck to the plan and I was really pleased with the times we made in the target stages. Now it’s the time to move forward again and I’m delighted to be doing that in a Ford Fiesta R5 MkII with a team of world champions helping me.”

M-Sport: ANOTHER EYE-CATCHING CREATION

Posted: January 9, 2020 8:42 AM

M-Sport Ford World Rally Team’s EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta WRCs will be adorned with a striking new livery this year – Graphic Designer Phil Dixon delivering another eye-catching creation for the 2020 FIA World Rally Championship.

Dixon’s designs are eagerly awaited and the Cumbrian’s work attains fan-favourite status year after year. This season his vision drew inspiration from print designs of the early-to-mid 90s, and the Fiestas will carry a modern-retro theme as the team look to the future with a young and ambitious new line-up.

The 2020 colour scheme offers a largely white design with highlights of blue and green to represent the close partnership with Ford as well as increased support from Castrol – as facilitated through the Blue Oval’s global alliance. Existing partners MS?RT, Michelin, Sparco, OZ Racing, NGK, Lazer, Stilo, Acronis, Endless, Audes, Eibach and SWP are also proudly displayed within the design.

The Cumbrians are also looking to the future closer to home, and the official photos were taken in the M-Sport Evaluation Centre which is fast taking shape and due for completion this autumn. Having constructed a 2.5 kilometre test track last year, the experts at Northern Developments are now focused on the adjoining 10,723 m2 workshop.

Progressing at pace, 550 tonnes of structural steelwork is already in place and all of the external precast concrete walls have been fully installed. Once complete, this extensive multi-million-pound development will mark a new era for M-Sport – with a truly unique centre of engineering excellence on the edge of the Lake District National Park.

The project was made possible with investment from the UK Government’s Regional Growth Fund (RGF) as well as Growth Fund investment provided by Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership (CLEP) – and will ensure Cumbria plays its part to boost local economy, skills and innovation within the Northern Powerhouse.

Graphic Designer, Phil Dixon, said:
“My initial inspiration came from François Delecour’s 1995 Ford Escort RS Cosworth. White cars have always been popular, and with the increased support from Castrol that colour scheme was spot on. In general, the whole design has a nod to the early-to-mid 90s. The patterns and fashions of the era are really prevalent at the moment, so I was interested to create something in that style whilst still being on-trend and relevant today.”

Team Principal, Richard Millener, said:
“Phil is a real talent so it’s not surprising to see his designs become fan favourites year after year. This year he’s captured a sense of nostalgia in something totally modern and inventive, and I have to say that it’s one of my favourites!

“It’s great to see our close relationship with Ford well represented, as well as the increased support from Castrol. Many of our existing partners are also proudly displayed, and the livery looks even better close up. I hope many of you will be able to get out into the forests and service parks to see it for yourselves!”

Managing Director, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:
“Like every rally fan, I look forward to seeing our new livery and I have to say that the team have done a fantastic job this year. Rallying is at the heart of our business, and we have built a team that I am immensely proud of. But if we want to continue it’s important to diversify, and the M-Sport Evaluation Centre offers exactly that.

“Northern Developments are making great progress, and we are creating a fantastic facility where industry leaders from the motorsport and automotive sectors will have everything they need to follow a concept from design to production. I truly believe that we have something special at M-Sport, and this new development is only going to build on that – promoting Dovenby Hall as a unique centre of engineering excellence.”

M-Sport: YOUNG AND AMBITIOUS TEAM FOR 2020

Posted: January 5, 2020 10:41 AM

Esapekka Lappi will join forces with Teemu Suninen and Gus Greensmith this season as the M?Sport Ford World Rally Team put youth at the head of their FIA World Rally Championship campaign.

Taking to the wheel of the EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta WRCs, the three drivers have an average age of 25 and will be led by a similarly young and ambitious team – the average age of the engineers just 30, and Team Principal Richard Millener a mere 35 years young!

As a proven rally winner, Lappi will lead the team alongside compatriot co-driver Janne Ferm. The Finns last took to the wheel of a Fiesta in 2012 when they stormed to Finnish Championship success with a clean-sweep of victories behind the wheel of the Ford Fiesta S2000. Eight years later, the popular duo are now regularly challenging for top results on the world stage.

Securing their maiden win on home soil in 2017, Lappi and Ferm have gone on to secure seven FIA World Rally Championship podiums and claimed the runner-up spot on three occasions last year. Competitive on all surfaces, the Finns have speed in abundance and the team are keen to see what they can do when reunited with the Blue Oval.

Teemu Suninen and Jarmo Lehtinen continue their partnership as the young Finn contests his second full season at the sport’s highest level. Developing at pace, Suninen made his world rally car debut in 2017, secured his first podium in 2018, and led his first rally in 2019 – so the team are eager to see what he can do in 2020.

This also marks the first time an all-Finnish line-up has led the team since Mikko Hirvonen was partnered with Marcus Grönholm in 2006 and 2007, and Jari Matti Latvala from 2008 to 2011. Over those six years the Finns delivered two championships, 31 victories, 99 podiums and 592 stage wins; and M-Sport Ford are now looking forward to promoting the next generation of Flying Finns.

Joining the Finns in the third Ford Fiesta WRC on nine events are British talents Gus Greensmith and Elliott Edmondson. The Brits will get their season underway in Monte-Carlo before events in Mexico, Argentina, Portugal, Sardinia, Finland, Turkey, Germany and Wales.

The youngsters made a strong debut when they took to the wheel of the top-specification Fiesta for the first time last year – bettering the time of both Sébastien Loeb and Sébastien Ogier on their very first speed test; and the team are keen to see them continue their development at the highest level this year.

Managing Director, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:
“We’re going back to our roots in more ways than one this year – fielding a young team and welcoming two sets of Finns back to the family. We enjoyed some fantastic results with Marcus, Mikko and Jari-Matti, and now I’m looking forward to seeing how the next generation of Flying Finns develop.

“But our core philosophy has always been the promotion and progression of young talent, and in Esapekka, Teemu and Gus we have three talented youngsters who are all capable of delivering some strong results.

“The team may be a young one, but they have the experience and ambition to go far – and I’m keen to see what they can achieve in 2020.”

Team Principal, Richard Millener, said:
“There’s a lot of potential in our 2020 line-up and our aim is to continue challenging for the top results. A rally win is the ultimate goal, and I think we have every chance of achieving that. Everyone is determined to deliver, and we can’t wait to get stuck in.

“Esapekka is a proven winner and there is no doubting his speed. He finished second three times last year so I’m looking forward seeing how he gets to grips with the Fiesta. And if it’s anything like the last time he got behind the wheel of a Ford then we’re in for one hell of a season!

“I think a lot of people will be keen to see what Teemu can do too. He and Jarmo work really well together and I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw them challenging for the top results on quite a few events this year.

“It’s also great to see Gus back with nine events in the Fiesta WRC. He had a really strong debut last year and he’s only going to get stronger and more confident as the season progresses. This is very much a learning year for him, but if I know Gus he’ll want to make his mark too!”

Esapekka Lappi said:
“I’m really looking forward to this new adventure and I’m excited to see what we can achieve. M?Sport Ford has a real passion for rally and there were a lot of talented drivers available for this seat, so I’m very happy they put their trust in us – giving myself and Janne an opportunity to show what we can do in 2020.

“We start testing this week, and I’m really looking forward to discovering the Fiesta. The last time I drove a Ford we had a lot of success and it would be great to see that continue this year. I can’t wait to get started, and hope we can push for some strong results.”

Teemu Suninen said:
“I’m really grateful to Malcolm and the team for their belief in me. I feel as though I learnt a lot over the past 12 months, and I’m looking forward to seeing what Jarmo and I can do in 2020. Last year taught me that I need to give everything in all of the rallies if I want to reach the top results – and that’s what I hope to do this year.

“It’s also really great to be in a team with Esapekka because he was something of a hero to me in my childhood. When I started go-karting as a teenager in Finland, he was in the same team and winning the championship. Three years later I was able to do the same, and now we’re both in rally and both back in the same team!”

Gus Greensmith said:
“I have been waiting for this opportunity my whole life, and now I have it. I’ve progressed through M-Sport Ford’s, ‘Ladder of Opportunity,’ from R1, to R2, to R5 and now WRC. I owe a lot to everyone at M-Sport and Ford who has helped me progress as a driver, but there is still a lot more to come.

“The team may be young, but we’re all ultra-competitive and together I’m sure we can deliver some strong performances. During the off season I have made some big improvements to myself outside of the rally car. I have never been fitter, and I have never been faster, and when the light turns green for the first stage of 2020 I will be ready.”

FOURMAUX SET FOR WRC 2

Posted: January 5, 2020 10:41 AM

French talent Adrien Fourmaux will team up with M-Sport Ford this year – taking to the wheel of the EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta R5 MkII for a campaign in the FIA World Rally Championship’s premier support series, WRC 2.

Like Evans and Greensmith before him, Fourmaux is a perfect example of Ford’s ‘Ladder of Opportunity’ in action, and his career also highlights the close links between M-Sport and the FFSA (Fédération Française du Sport Automobile) – both ardent supporters of young talent.

After winning the renowned Rallye Jeunes series in his native France, he progressed behind the wheel of the Ford Fiesta R2T National as part of the French Junior Championship – finishing third in his debut year before going on to claim the title with five victories in 2018.

Stepping up to the world stage in 2019, the 24-year-old contested three rallies with the Fiesta R2T19 but his standout performances came when tackling five WRC 2 events at the wheel of the Ford Fiesta R5 – securing second place on his debut at Rallye Monte-Carlo and third at Wales Rally GB.

Catching the eye of many around the service park, Fourmaux is now ready to continue his development and M-Sport Ford are keen to encourage the talent and potential of another ambitious youngster.

Partnered by Belgian co-driver Renaud Jamoul, the Frenchman will get his season underway at the season opener in Monte-Carlo; and details of a second M-Sport Ford Fiesta R5 MkII will be revealed at next week’s Autosport International Show at Birmingham’s NEC in the United Kingdom.

Managing Director, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:
“We’ve been working closely with the FFSA for the past three years, and Adrien’s progress really does embody that collaboration. Since winning Rallye Jeunes he has quickly progressed – almost exclusively with the Fiesta – and it’s great to see him fully integrated into the team this year. This is only his second season at this level, but I fully expect him to keep on impressing!”

Team Principal, Richard Millener, said:
“I’ve not worked with Adrien before, but I have been following his progress and there’s no doubting his speed and potential behind the wheel. This will be an important season for him with much still to learn, but I look forward to working with him and think we could see him challenging for the top results on a number of events. He’s ready to make his mark, and we plan to give him everything he needs to do that.”

Adrien Fourmaux said:
“I’m really proud to be representing M-Sport Ford in the WRC 2 Championship this year – especially as it comes just three years after my Rallye Jeunes victory and first ever rally. Over the past 25 years many French drivers have started their careers with the opportunities the FFSA built with Rallye Jeunes – and it gave me the chance to discover this fantastic sport.

“Now I will be collaborating with M-Sport Ford – a team well known for their support and development of young drivers. I really want to succeed – both for myself, but also for people like Michelin and Yacco who have helped and supported me since the very beginning. This year I will contest a lot of rallies which I already know – and I hope that knowledge will help me challenge for the top results.”

Ogier, Evans and Rovanperä: An exciting new line-up to drive the Toyota Yaris WRC in 2020

Posted: November 27, 2019 7:05 AM

The TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team is pleased to confirm an exciting, all-new driver line-up for the 2020 season. Six-time FIA World Rally Champion Sébastien Ogier, proven rally winner Elfyn Evans and rising star Kalle Rovanperä will all join the team along with their respective co-drivers. Together, they will make for a perfect blend of speed, experience and youth behind the wheel of the Toyota Yaris WRC.

Ogier, guided by co-driver Julien Ingrassia, established himself as the dominant force in the WRC as he won six consecutive drivers’ titles between 2013 and 2018. Hungry to reclaim his crown and add to his tally of 47 victories, the 35-year-old from France has signed with Toyota for the 2020 season, placing his trust in the car and team that won the 2019 drivers’ championship with Ott Tänak.

While his maiden victory came on home soil in Wales in 2017, Evans has proven himself as a fast and consistent driver across the wide variety of different surfaces and conditions experienced in the WRC. Joining Toyota for the next two years, the 30-year-old and his co-driver Scott Martin will continue the strong working relationship they started in 2019.

Rovanperä will embark on his rookie season in a World Rally Car in 2020 aged just 19, but the youngster from Finland has long been regarded as one of the sport’s most exciting prospects. Having previously had the chance to test the Yaris WRC as a 16-year-old, he has now signed a two-year contract with the team. Together with co-driver Jonne Halttunen, Rovanperä won the 2019 WRC 2 Pro title with five wins from 11 starts, demonstrating his readiness to step up to the next level.

Quotes:
Tommi Mäkinen (Team Principal)
“I’m really pleased with the driver line-up we have been able to put together for next season. I believe it provides us with a great balance in our team as we target more championship trophies next year and in the future. We know how strong Sébastien is and we’re all looking forward to working with him and Julien. I think that being able to attract a driver with his record says a lot about what we have achieved in such a short space of time with this team. Elfyn is a driver I have been watching for some time. We’ve seen that he can have the speed to win on almost any surface, but he can also be very clever when needed and score good points. I’ve known Kalle since he was very young and it’s always been clear that he has something special. He still has lots to learn, but I believe that he is ready for this step now. I want to say thank you to Ott and Martin, Jari-Matti and Miikka, and Kris and Seb for all they have done for our team. I wish them all the best for the future.”

Sébastien Ogier
“I’m definitely very excited to be joining this team. It’s another new challenge for me and I’m looking forward to it. We already discussed it at the end of 2016, and although we didn’t manage to make it happen at that time, I’m now overwhelmed to start working with such an iconic brand as Toyota as well as my childhood idol Tommi Mäkinen. The plan is to aim for some success together and to try to win back the world championship. It’s an interesting line-up: I know Elfyn very well as I’ve worked with him before and I’m sure he can bring a lot to the team too, while Kalle has proven many things already in rallying, so he’s definitely got some talent and I’m sure he will improve very quickly. All three of us are new to the team, so it’s going to be challenging to learn the car and everything, but of course we’ll do our best to perform as quickly as possible.

Elfyn Evans
“Joining TOYOTA GAZOO Racing is a great opportunity for me and I’m really excited to get going. The team has been very successful since it came into the sport three years ago and I’m looking forward to be a part of it. Tommi has been very successful as a driver himself and knows what it takes to perform at this level. It’s been great to deal with him so far, and I’m looking forward to getting to know the team better as we ramp up towards the start of next season. 2019 was a mixed season for us – missing three rallies due to injury being the low point – but there were some strong results and performances as we competed for stage wins and podiums. Now I want to take that further, to be winning rallies more often and seeing what’s possible in this new chapter. It will be nice to work with Sébastien again too: With the experience and success he’s had, he’s a great guy to have in the team.”

Kalle Rovanperä
“I’m really excited to be joining the team. I think the goal for any young rally driver is to have a seat in a World Rally Car and now that chance is coming for me. It has been great for me to see how Tommi has been trusting me already when I first tested the car a few years ago, and it’s now really nice to be fully a part of his team. I’m sure that next year is going be quite demanding: The biggest challenges will be to learn the new car and also the rallies that are new on the calendar. For sure, the beginning will be all about learning the car and the speed and everything that comes with it. I think Seb and Elfyn will be really good team-mates for me with their experience. I have so much I can learn from them, so it’s nice to have them in the team also.”

Akio Toyoda (Team Chairman, TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team)
Jari-Matti, thank you for fighting with us for three years.
When I visited Finland for the first time in 2014, Toyota had not yet decided to come back to the WRC. I was so excited because it was my first WRC visit and I stood in the hotel lobby to see the drivers in person. Jari-Matti, then a VW driver, was the first driver to arrive. When I excitedly greeted you, you said a friendly hello. While chatting, you noticed me as someone from Toyota, and you happily talked to me about your Corolla and Celica. This was the moment I made the decision to come back; we needed to come back to WRC while such a driver remembered Toyota competing.
You could say that if I didn’t see such a friendly VW driver back then, then maybe Toyota would not be in the WRC now!

When I heard you would become our driver two years later, I was very moved by this wonderful fate. Frankly speaking, I didn’t expect at the beginning of the season that we could win in our first season. The target was to get a podium finish within a year. However, you brought Toyota to the podium immediately in Monte-Carlo. And then, you brought us to the top of the podium the following month in Sweden. It was a dream experience.
I was so glad that we could finally stand together on the podium last year in Finland. When I look back at pictures from afterwards, I noticed that I sprayed the champagne bottle given by Ott towards you at first. I believe it shows how much I got excited for my first podium together with you.
I know you cherish your Corolla and Celica very much, so I believe you will continue to be a Toyota supporter. Let’s stay in touch.

Kris, you have worked hard for Toyota. You always attacked to the maximum and pushed the car to the limit, and gave a lot of advice from the viewpoint of a former engineer. This has made the Yaris stronger. Thank you for your contribution this year.

Lastly, Ott, I am happy like myself that you finally achieved your dream, becoming World Rally Champion. Myself and Toyota are very proud of helping to achieve it. Unlike Mr. Tomoyama (President, GAZOO Racing Company), I have not been good at climbing the podium, but you taught me how to do it in Finland last year. Thanks to you, I could see the view from the top of the podium and get to know how sticky the champagne is. I really appreciated it.

I think your decision, “After achieving the goal, I want a new challenge with different environment”, is simply amazing. You will become Toyota’s rival next year. For us, having a strong rival is big motivation to move forward. Because you have taught me how to stand on the top of the podium and how to open champagne bottles well, I can shower the champagne to you from higher position when we see each other the next time. See you again on the podium!

FORD BECOMES OFFICIAL PARTNER OF FIA JUNIOR WRC

Posted: November 26, 2019 4:41 AM

The iconic blue oval joins FIA Junior WRC as an official partner for 2020.

Working with M-Sport Poland, Ford Performance assisted with thedevelopment of the EcoBoost-powered Fiesta R2T – the car that is exclusively used by all FIA Junior WRC competitors. The newpartnership sees Ford extend its commitment to finding the next generation of FIA World Rally Championship superstars offering a clear pathway from the Fiesta R2T to the Fiesta WRC – all using M-Sport built cars with EcoBoost power.

The most powerful car (per driven axle) in WRC

Thanks to the 200HP one-litre EcoBoost engine the Fiesta R2T features 200HP per driven axle, which is the highest in the WRC, with the top tier WRC cars delivering 190HP per driven axle.

Same EcoBoost power, very different conditions

The EcoBoost powered Fiesta R2Ts use the same base engine as their road going variants and will be put through their paces on both ends of the spectrum of extreme conditions. From the snow and ice of Rally Sweden, where ambient temperatures drop as low as -25°C, to the ruttedand rocky Rally d’Italia, reaching a searing 40°C, FIA Junior WRC’s 2020 crews will demonstrate the capabilities of the EcoBoostpowerplant.

Maciej Woda, FIA Junior WRC Championship Manager:
“To have Ford join FIA Junior WRC as an official partner underlines the importance of supporting and growing the potential future World Rally Champions to manufactures such as Ford. Elfyn Evans is a great example of a driver that Ford has been involved with since he started his WRC career in the championship when it was known as WRC Academyin 2012 which he won in a Ford Fiesta R2. Elfyn graduated to the WRC 2 category in 2013 with a Ford Fiesta R5 and joined the M-Sport World Rally Team full-time for the 2014 season and took his maiden WRC overall victory in 2017 on Wales Rally GB in an EcoBoost poweredFord Fiesta WRC.”

Gerard Quinn, Senior Manager Ford Performance Europe:
“Ford has been a proud partner and advocate of the JWRC from its inception several years ago. Since the foundation of Ford Motor Company we have consistently been at the forefront of making opportunities for talent to flourish in motorsport. The JWRC provides a valuable opportunity for Ford to be involved in a professional rally series that continues to find world class driving talent. Obviously we are delighted that the Ford Fiesta continues to be the competition car of choice for this exciting programme in 2020.”

Entries for the 2020 FIA Junior WRC Championship are now open! For more info head to: http://bit.ly/JuniorWRC2020

FIA JUNIOR WRC CHAMPIONSHIP GOES GLOBAL IN 2020

Posted: November 26, 2019 4:39 AM

The five-round calendar for the 2020 FIA Junior WRC Championship has been revealed* including two new rounds with three returning from the 2019 calendar. *(subject to FIA World Motorsport Council approval)

Each round of the 2020 FIA Junior WRC Championship will provide the next generation of World Rally Championship drivers with essential experience on all three surfaces represented on the WRC calendar. Snow, ice, tarmac and a variety of gravel surfaces will test the 2020 FIA Junior WRC crews to their limits.

The prize package for the 2020 FIA Junior WRC Champion is regarded as ‘the biggest prize package in rallying’ and is integral in allowing the best of the next generation to showcase their talent on the international stage. The 2020 Champion will be handed the keys to a brand new EcoBoost powered M-Sport Fiesta R5 Mk II with 200 Pirelli tyres, free WRC 3 registration for the 2021 season and five free entries. Should the 2020 Champion go on to win the 2021 WRC 3 Championship they will then receive two drives with the M-Sport Ford World Rally Team in the 2022 season.

The Rookie Award returns for the 2020 season, with a €15,000 scholarship prize for the highest placed FIA Junior WRC Rookie to go towards their 2021 season in FIA Junior WRC.

The calendar serves as a thorough test to see which driver will have what it takes to seize championship glory and join the likes of WRC superstars Sebastien Loeb, Dani Sordo, Sebastien Ogier, Elfyn Evans, Craig Breen and Pontus Tidemand.

The addition of Rally Chile now makes FIA Junior WRC a worldwide championship that allows the future stars of the WRC to experience five of the best events on the 2020 WRC calendar. It also marks the first time that the single-make FIA Junior WRC Championship heads to South America.

Round 1: Sweden 13 – 16 February
The rally has played host to the launch of the FIA Junior WRC Championship since 2018, making it one of the most hotly anticipated rounds of the season. Picturesque lakeside roads and forests in the Värmland region make up Rally Sweden’s stages, the only round of the world championship that takes place purely on snow. But make no mistake: snow and ice doesn’t mean that the drivers will be tiptoeing around. With studded Pirelli Sottozero Ice tyres fitted to every M-Sport Ford Fiesta R2T, it’s one of the fastest rallies of the year for the Junior WRC crews.

Round 2: Chile 16 – 19 April
The first gravel event for the 2020 Junior drivers to tackle in their M-Sport Fiesta R2Ts will be Rally Chile, the first time the event features on the FIA Junior WRC calendar. After making its WRC debut in 2019, Rally Chile became an instant hit with drivers, fans and teams. Thursday evening’s ceremonial start for the 2019 was a sight to behold in the Plaza de la Independenzia in the centre of Concepción as the FIA Junior WRC crews are set to add to the spectacle in 2020. The rally tackles stages that meander through some of Chile’s dense forests used by timber truckers when the world’s best rally drivers aren’t storming down them.

Round 3: Italy 4 – 7 June
Rally d’Italia Sardinia returns to the FIA Junior WRC calendar after a nail biting thriller in 2019 that saw eventual champion Jan Solans go head to head with Dennis Rådström, trading stage wins and the lead several times. Sardinia represents the second of three gravel events in 2020, crews will face fast but narrow stages with loose gravel, which become more rutted as each car passes through. It can also get rather warm inside the FIA Junior WRC Ford Fiesta R2s, with no air conditioning (to save weight) and ambient temperatures in the region of 30°C.

Round 4: Finland 6 – 9 August
No rally can match the lightning pace and prestige of Rally Finland. The Jyväskylä-based event is the fastest on the calendar, featuring packed gravel roads with blind crests and jumps, plus flowing fourth and fifth gear corners that entice the drivers to keep their feet planted on the throttle. 2019 saw plenty of action with a packed entry and six different stage winners across Finland’s iconic stages. The forest roads are wide, so picking the right racing line is key to unlocking speed, helping the rally earn its unofficial moniker of the ‘Finnish Grand Prix’. Drivers will need plenty of sisu – a word the Finns use to describe implacable courage – to contend for victory here.

Round 5: Germany 15 – 18 October
The Junior WRC’s grand finale in Germany offers double points to crews that have completed at least three of the previous four rallies. A confusing plethora of twisting asphalt awaits the FIA Junior WRC crews in Germany, speeding through the iconic vineyard stages and around a seemingly infinite but epic sequence of hairpin bends. Regarded as the toughest tarmac challenge of the season, Germany will feel that much more difficult for those in contention for championship. It already promises to be a thriller and that’s before considering the inevitable rain clouds that normally appear on the German rally.

Japan, Kenya and New Zealand named in 2020 WRC calendar

Posted: November 5, 2019 6:57 AM

Japan, Kenya and New Zealand will return to the FIA World Rally Championship for 2020 in a refreshed calendar displaying a more global profile.

Japan’s inclusion, 10 years after it last featured in the WRC fixture list, marks mainstream Asia’s first appearance in the series since then.

The addition of Kenya’s iconic Safari Rally, one of global motorsport’s legendary contests, means the WRC returns to Africa, the world’s second largest continent by size, for the first time since 2002.

It is the first time the WRC has included six continents – Europe, North America, South America, Asia, Africa and Australasia – in its 48-year history. Not since 1999 have Africa and Asia appeared side-by-side in the fixture list.

“It’s no secret we wanted to further globalise the series by incorporating more events outside Europe and we’ve achieved that next year with this exciting new-look calendar,” said Oliver Ciesla, managing director of WRC Promoter, which owns the championship’s commercial rights.

All three countries were confirmed on a 14-round schedule approved by the FIA, world motorsport’s governing body. Their promotion follows the introduction of a second South American round in Chile this year.

Returning events add rally history and tradition to calendar

Unlike previous editions of Rally Japan, which were held on the northern island of Hokkaido, the 2020 event will be based in Nagoya, on the country’s main island of Honshu. It is about three hours’ drive from capital city Tokyo.

The all-new asphalt encounter will form the coveted final round of the championship and take place on 19 - 22 November.

The Safari was notorious for being the WRC’s toughest round as open-road gravel tracks, unpredictable weather and a route three times longer than other rallies created hazards unmatched elsewhere.

It has evolved to fit the modern-day WRC, but its character remains with challenging closed dirt roads, superb picture-postcard scenery and exotic wildlife. The East African event will form the championship’s eighth round on 16 - 19 July.

Rally New Zealand returns after a seven-year hiatus on 3 - 6 September. The picturesque North Island coastal city of Auckland will host round 10, the country’s 33rd WRC appearance adding to its impressive heritage.

Its smooth, flowing gravel roads are a drivers’ delight and spectacular scenery north of the city will guarantee fabulous global TV images.

Ciesla described the calendar as a ‘significant step’ in the WRC’s growth.

“The return of Japan and Kenya provide a presence in the world’s largest two continents by size for the first time in more than two decades. The last time Asia and Africa appeared in the WRC together was 1999.

“The two continents are huge markets for the WRC and I thank everyone involved from both countries and the FIA who have been instrumental in returning the rallies to the calendar for 2020.

“New Zealand requires no introduction. It has a long and successful WRC history and the return of its curving billiard-table smooth special stages near Auckland will be one of the year’s highlights,” he added.

Latin American carnival as Mexico, Chile and Argentina go back-to-back

The 2020 championship kicks-off with the traditional season-opening Rallye Monte Carlo in the French Alps. It will be followed by Rally Sweden, the series’ only pure winter fixture.

The focus switches to the Americas for the next months with a triple-header in three Spanish-speaking countries.

Consecutive dirt road rounds in Mexico, Chile and Argentina span the middle of March to early May. The latter two will run in reverse order to 2019, with Chile taking place two weeks before the action moves across the Andes mountains.

Hot weather gravel rounds in Portugal in May and Italy in June complete the opening half of the season.

Kenya opens the second sector in July, before further gravel encounters in Finland, New Zealand and Turkey across August and September.

Germany marks the first pure asphalt round ahead of the final dirt road fixture in Great Britain, which moves back in the calendar to become the penultimate counter. The season ends with another sealed surface event in Japan.

“This is the most varied WRC calendar ever in terms of geographic locations, visiting six of the world’s seven continents,” added Ciesla. “The additions provide a refreshing new feel to our fixture list and open an exciting new chapter to the championship, one that will appeal to both competitors and fans alike.”

Championship Rounds (Revised 20 Jan 20)

Posted: November 5, 2019 6:44 AM

  1. Monte Carlo - 23-26 Jan 20
  2. Sweden - 13-16 Feb 20
  3. Mexico - 12-15 Mar 20
    Chile - 16-19 Apr 20 - CANCELLED
  4. Argentina - DATE CHANGE 23-26 Apr 20 (Was 30 Apr-3 May 20)
  5. Portugal - 21-24 May 20
  6. Italy (Sardegna) - 4-7 Jun 20
  7. Kenya Safari Rally - 16-19 Jul 20
  8. Finland - 6-9 Aug 20
  9. New Zealand - 3-6 Sep 20
  10. Turkey - 24-27 Sep 20
  11. Germany - 15-18 Oct 20
  12. Rally GB - 29 Oct-1 Nov 20
  13. Japan - 19-22 Nov 20

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