2021 World Rally Championship

Posted: January 14, 2021 2:46 PM - 2351 Hits

SUNINEN, GREENSMITH AND FOURMAUX FORM M-SPORT SQUAD IN 2021

Posted: January 14, 2021 2:46 PM

Teemu Suninen, Gus Greensmith and Adrien Fourmaux will form the M-Sport Ford World Rally Team squad in 2021 as the Cumbrians continue to champion young talent with the ambition of a successful future in the FIA World Rally Championship.

Backing three youngsters already on the books, the aim is to progress their development and see them follow in the footsteps of their predecessors – 2019 FIA World Rally Champion, Ott Tänak, and 2020 FIA World Rally Championship runner-up, Elfyn Evans.

Continuing with compatriot co-driver Elliott Edmondson, Greensmith will contest his first full campaign with the EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta WRC and intends to make the most of his first complete season with the top-specification Fiesta.

Securing three top-ten finishes as well as a career-best fifth place last year, the Brit will use the opportunity to further his progression and is already putting in the work ahead of the opening round at Rallye Monte-Carlo.

Joining Greensmith in a second Ford Fiesta WRC at the Monegasque event, Teemu Suninen will contest a partial programme this year. Parting ways with co-driver Jarmo Lehtinen who is tackling a new challenge away from the pacenotes, the young Finn will be looking to put his previous experience to good use.

A replacement co-driver is yet to be confirmed, but Suninen remains hungry for success and will target specific events where he will have an opportunity to challenge for the top results and showcase his speed and commitment behind the wheel.

Sharing the Ford Fiesta WRC with Suninen on selected events, Adrien Fourmaux will also contest a full WRC 2 campaign with the EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta Rally2 – starting with the classic opener at Rallye Monte-Carlo.

Continuing with Belgian co-driver Renaud Jamoul, the pairing are keen to continue their development with further experience in the FIA World Rally Championship’s premier support series, as well as further opportunities at the sport’s highest level.

M-Sport Ford’s striking 2020 livery will also be carried forward to 2021, albeit with a few subtle changes. A new roof motif is prominent amongst these changes and extends the popular design with further flashes of blue.

Greensmith and Suninen will both sport the Castrol-branded livery at Rallye Monte-Carlo, and a number of Pirelli logos have also been added – the Italian manufacturer becoming the official tyre supplier of the FIA World Rally Championship.

Team Principal, Richard Millener, said:


“M-Sport has a long history of supporting young drivers – it’s something that remains very close to Malcolm’s heart, and we remain committed to Teemu, Gus and Adrien as they continue their development in 2021. All three have a lot of talent, and we’ve devised programmes to bring out the best in each driver whilst enabling further progression at the various stages of their careers.

“Gus delivered some impressive split and stage times last year, and it’s now time for him to develop those skills further. We’re delighted to offer him his first full season with the top-specification Fiesta, and want to see him and Elliott take maximum experience from a full rally and test programme – learning not only the rallies, but the intricacies of set-up, engineering and everything that goes into becoming a world-class driver. I know they’re already putting the work in to ensure they make the most of this opportunity, and I’m really keen to see how they develop over the course of the year.

“We all know that Teemu has the speed – it’s something we saw on his very first outing with the Ford Fiesta WRC and we felt it important to find a way for him to continue with us this year. We’ve managed to create a partial WRC programme for him, and will target specific events where he and the Fiesta can be competitive. It’s a shame to have lost Jarmo, but Teemu learnt a lot from the short time they spent together and I’m sure he’ll put that to good use this year.

“Adrien also really impressed us last year, and we’re delighted to offer him another full WRC 2 programme with the Ford Fiesta Rally2 as well as some further outings with the Fiesta WRC. We want to ensure he gets to experience as many rallies as possible – continuing to showcase the performance of the Fiesta Rally2 but also starting to pit himself against the world’s best.

“We will continue to work hard to see if we can increase Teemu’s programme and bring additional top-level drivers into the squad, but we also have to be honest and say that the Covid situation has made things extremely difficult for us. That said, we hope there is light at the end of the tunnel and I know that every single member of the team will continue to give their best as we push for the best possible results in 2021.”

Teemu Suninen said:

“It’s great to be back in the Fiesta WRC this year. We all know how difficult times are at the moment, and I want to thank the team for their continued support and opportunity to show what I can do this year. We’ll have to wait and see how many rallies I can do, but I will work hard to do my best and deliver good results at every event.

“It’s a shame not to have Jarmo with me again this year, but we knew that this partnership would have to come to an end at some point. I learnt so much from him over the past 18 months, and straight away we secured a fantastic result together – my career-best second place in Sardinia in 2019. I want to thank Jarmo for everything and wish him the best of luck in his new adventure. I am glad that he will still have a place in the sport he loves – just on the other side of the table now!”

Gus Greensmith said:

“I’m really proud to represent M-Sport Ford, and incredibly grateful for the opportunity of a full season in the FIA World Rally Championship. This has been my dream since I was a boy, and I’m really looking forward to getting started.

“Last year gave us a taster of what to expect, and now we’re ready to throw everything into this season and really focus on progressing throughout year – not only in terms of my driving, but in terms of everything that goes into making a successful career in the FIA World Rally Championship.”

Adrien Fourmaux said:

“It’s a new season with a new goal, but one with another fantastic opportunity for me. I want to thank Malcolm, Rich and the whole team for the opportunity and intend to make the most of all the experience I’m set to gain this year.

“I’m looking forward to pushing for the top results in the WRC 2 category. We got really close to victory quite a few times last year, and believe we have everything we need to succeed this season. And of course I’m looking forward to some outings with the world rally car – to experience competition at this level and better understand every element that goes into reaching the very top of the sport.”

Hyundai Motorsport names Oliver Solberg/Aaron Johnson for 2021 WRC 2 campaign

Posted: December 18, 2020 11:58 AM

Hyundai Motorsport has announced that Oliver Solberg and Ole Christian Veiby will spearhead its manufacturer entry into the 2021 FIA World Rally Championship-2 (WRC 2), strengthening the team’s ongoing commitment to nurturing the driving talents of the future.

The two drivers will compete initially in the rally-winning Hyundai i20 R5 before moving into the brand-new Hyundai i20 N Rally2 car when it becomes available for competition mid-season. The new car completed its first tests successfully at the end of November. The precise schedule of 2021 events for Solberg (co-driver Aaron Johnston) and Veiby (co-driver Jonas Andersson) will be announced at a later date.

Oliver is the youngest, upcoming star from the well-known Solberg family, at the age of 19. Having been in and around WRC his entire life, Solberg started out in crosskarts, but by 15 he was learning his rally craft in Latvia as well as in rallycross. He stepped up to R5 machinery in 2019, taking the Latvian/Estonian/Baltic title. He made his WRC debut in Wales Rally GB that same year, and took his first WRC 3 win at this season’s Rally Estonia. In addition he claimed the FIA ERC1 junior title. The Swedish-Norwegian rising star has now signed a two-year agreement with Hyundai Motorsport.

Solberg said: “For me to be joining Hyundai Motorsport is incredible. The team’s recent achievements say it all - twice manufacturers’ champions in WRC, along with a successful Customer Racing division. It’s an exciting time to join a team like this. To have the chance to work for these guys, it’s not just a real thrill for me, it will be fantastic to learn from everyone. I am looking forward to driving the i20 R5 and then the i20 N Rally2 car as part of a full WRC 2 campaign next year. We will go into the championship with a winning mentality and with the important responsibility of representing Hyundai around the world. I am also happy to have another young driver, Ole Christian Veiby, in the WRC 2 set-up. I hope this commitment will open the doors to even greater opportunities for me in the future.”

“OC” Veiby, meanwhile, is already well acquainted with Hyundai Motorsport and the Hyundai i20 R5, having contested five out of the seven rounds held in 2020. He took his first WRC 2 podium with second place in Rally Sweden, with stages in his home country of Norway, where he made his series debut back in 2016. In his first season with the revised specification Hyundai i20 R5, he added further class podiums in Mexico (third) and Sardinia (second), to finish fourth in the drivers’ standings.

Veiby commented: “I am very happy to stay within the Hyundai Motorsport family. I have really enjoyed competing with the Hyundai i20 R5 this year; I’ve learned a lot and I’m pleased to continue the work we have started. The 2020 season didn’t turn out the way we wanted. We took three podiums out of the five WRC 2 events we contested, but there is no doubt we really wanted to win and to be on the top step of the podium. It has been a very different and challenging year, and I’m looking forward to having another year to fight properly in WRC 2. We will start the season in the R5 car, but during the year the new Hyundai i20 N Rally2 car will be introduced and I’m really excited about competing in that. It’s also great to have Oliver onboard. I'm sure he will make a valuable contribution to the team and it will be very inspiring for me to work with such a passionate driver.”

Hyundai Motorsport has demonstrated its commitment to identifying and supporting up-and-coming talent for a number of years, having added Finnish driver Jari Huttunen to its books three years ago. Throughout 2020, Huttunen has shown why he is such an exciting talent, having secured the Polish national title this year, as well as WRC 3 championship honours. Hyundai Motorsport remains committed to supporting Huttunen, whose programme for next season will be revealed in due course.

Hyundai Motorsport Team Principal Andrea Adamo: “On the back of our second consecutive manufacturers’ title in the WRC, it is important for us to reaffirm our commitment to young talent and rising stars. We are pleased to welcome Oliver Solberg into the Hyundai Motorsport family, to join Ole Christian, with whom we have already worked this year. Both are exciting talents and definitely ‘ones-to-watch’. Oliver, of course, has a very well known surname but he has already started to prove himself in his own right, with results like the WRC 3 win in Estonia. Ole Christian, too, had some promising results in our i20 R5 during the year. We are confident that both young talents will demonstrate the potential not only of our R5 car initially, but also our brand-new Hyundai i20 N Rally2 car which we expect will make its competitive debut mid-season. Our Customer Racing department has worked fiercely during this challenging year to produce competitive rally machinery for crews around the world, so we are excited to see what our customer cars can do on the world rally stages in 2021 with these ambitious drivers. We can’t talk about rising stars without mentioning Jari Huttunen, who has been linked to Hyundai since the end of 2017. He has had a fantastic season in 2020 including the Polish title and the WRC 3 championship. We are working on Jari’s programme for 2021 and more will be known on that in due course.”

TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team new Team Principal: Jari-Matti Latvala

Posted: December 18, 2020 11:54 AM

The TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team is preparing to target further FIA World Rally Championship success in 2021. Sébastien Ogier, who won his seventh drivers’ title in his first season with the team in 2020, has extended his career to spend one more year driving the Toyota Yaris WRC. He will once again line up alongside Elfyn Evans, the 2020 championship runner-up, and exciting young talent Kalle Rovanperä.

Completing this squad of expert drivers is a new Team Principal: Jari-Matti Latvala. The most experienced driver in the history of the WRC, Latvala has been appointed to succeed Tommi Mäkinen, who takes up the role of Motorsport Advisor to Toyota from January 2021.

Latvala has been selected by Akio Toyoda, President of Toyota Motor Corporation, to bring a driver’s perspective to a management team that also includes Yuichiro Haruna, Project Director; Kaj Lindström, Sporting Director; and Tom Fowler, Technical Director.

A winner of 18 rounds of the WRC, Latvala has been part of the story of the TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team since its debut in 2017. After joining the team he played a crucial role in the development of the Toyota Yaris WRC in weeks before its competitive debut at Rallye Monte-Carlo – where he finished second overall. He then claimed the team’s first victory in the following event, Rally Sweden. His win on Rally Australia at the end of 2018 helped to secure the manufacturers’ championship for Toyota.

As well as being one of rallying’s most popular drivers, Latvala is known for his enthusiasm of the sport, and even maintains and competes in classic Toyota rally cars. During 2020, he has served as an ambassador for TOYOTA GAZOO Racing around the world, something that will continue in his new role as Team Principal.

He will also bring his knowledge and understanding of what a top rally driver requires from a car and from a team. His recent and extensive experience of competing at the front of the WRC will be particularly valuable for the team’s young drivers; namely Rovanperä and TOYOTA GAZOO Racing WRC Challenge Program driver Takamoto Katsuta.

Quotes: Akio Toyoda (Team Chairman, TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team)
“It’s been a year since we gave Jari-Matti a send-off from the team as a driver. And now, I’m very glad that I’m delivering this message again. When thinking about our new team from 2021, Jari-Matti’s face first came to my mind. That’s because there were many situations in which I empathised with him since we met.”

“He always thinks of the fans and of his team-mates. Being one of the top drivers, I often saw him running up to fans as soon as he got out of the car at the service park. He cared about everybody in the team like mechanics and engineers and always talked to them. I believe this kind of attitude and character empowered the team a lot and helped lead to the manufacturers’ title.”

“When I first met him, he was wearing Volkswagen overalls, but he talked to me about his old Celicas and Corollas with a huge passion. The following year, he changed his overalls to Toyota’s. He loved our Yaris WRC, took very good care of it, and made it stronger. As a car guy who loves cars, I still remember how happy I was to see his love for cars and love for Toyota.”

“’We hate to lose.’ This is also what we have in common. When he had to retire at Rally Australia in 2017, he must have been more disappointed than anyone else, however, he came to the team members and apologised for his mistake. He has a strong sense of responsibility. I know the ‘we hate to lose’ mindset makes the team and cars stronger.”

“His ability as a manager is unproven, but the attributes that we have in common between us were the deciding factors for entrusting the team to him. I believe these will bring the strength to the team.”

“I trust him to lead the new Toyota GAZOO Racing World Rally Team and I’m looking forward to climbing up onto the roof of the Yaris WRC with him.”

Jari-Matti Latvala (Team Principal)
“I am really honoured to be taking on this position with the team, and by the trust that Akio Toyoda has shown in me. I’m really excited to continue the work he started together with Tommi, having been a part of this team from the beginning as a driver.”

“Now, as Team Principal, I have to see the bigger picture: I have to motivate everybody in the team to work together to achieve the best results. It’s a new challenge and I’m up for it.”

“Tommi has done a fantastic job with the team, building it up from zero and bringing the success that he has. Of course, there is always room for improvement and I want to use what I have learned over the years as a driver and work together with the team directors to make this team as successful as possible.”

“The 2021 season is just around the corner but the entire package is already there within the team, with a proven car and the same strong driver line-up, and everybody knows what needs to be done to prepare for Rallye Monte-Carlo in January.”

Hyundai Motorsport: Craig Breen/Paul Nagle & Dani Sordo complete competitive crew line-up for 2021 season

Posted: December 9, 2020 9:26 AM

Hyundai Motorsport has confirmed it will field four different drivers in the 2021 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) in an effort to defend its recently secured second manufacturers’ title crown*.

Dani Sordo will extend his collaboration with the team into an eighth season, having played an instrumental role in this year’s title with his second successive win in Rally Italia Sardegna.

Sordo will drive a third Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC in selected events during 2021, alternating with Craig Breen. The Irishman impressed the team this year with a strong charge to second place in Estonia, his standout performance in a curtailed season.

Hyundai Motorsport, who secured the 2020 championship at Rally Monza last weekend, will retain its rally-winning drivers Ott Tänak and Thierry Neuville to spearhead next year’s championship campaign.

Tänak joined Hyundai Motorsport on the back of his own title-winning year in 2019. The Estonian got up to speed quickly in the Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC, taking podiums Sweden and Mexico, before registering his first win for the team on home soil.

For Neuville, 2021 will be his eighth consecutive season with Hyundai Motorsport. Across seven championships, the Belgian has claimed 13 victories, including Rallye Monte-Carlo earlier this year, where he made his debut with the team back in 2014.

Hyundai Motorsport will get its 2021 title defence underway at Rallye Monte-Carlo from January 21-24, with Tänak, Neuville and Sordo. Breen will begin his season at Rally Sweden in February, the scheduled second round of the season.

Team Principal Andrea Adamo said:
“We have hardly finished one season before our thoughts immediately turn to the next. After a disrupted 2020 championship due to the pandemic, consistency will be key as we aim to build further on our achievements. We are pleased to confirm that Dani and Craig will share a third Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC in 2021, alongside our previously announced drivers Thierry and Ott. All four drivers have shown their speed and commitment this year, with victories and podiums to support our title fight. Our crews offer the perfect blend of experience and hunger for our 2021 title hopes - both in the manufacturers’ and drivers’ - and we are pleased to have them in our organisation.”

Dani Sordo said:
“I have said before that Hyundai Motorsport is like a family to me, and that has never been clearer than during 2020. We have had a challenging year, but we have supported each other through it all. I am fortunate to have been part of this team since the very start and we continue to grow each year. Securing my second WRC win with the team in Sardinia - repeating what we achieved in 2019 - was a great example of how we can continue to be successful together. I look forward to more great results in 2021!”

Craig Breen said:
“To have the opportunity to compete on the stages of the World Rally Championship with Hyundai Motorsport has genuinely been a dream come true for me. Although I have joined the team in occasional rallies since 2018, this year we were really able to demonstrate our potential, with second place in Estonia. It gives us something exciting from which we can build. The team has placed its faith in myself and Paul to deliver more of these results in 2021. We’ll give everything we’ve got, starting from Rally Sweden.”

*subject to the official publication of the results by the FIA

Croatia and Estonia named in 2021 WRC calendar

Posted: October 9, 2020 3:31 PM

Croatia will host a round of the FIA World Rally Championship for the first time after being named in the 2021 calendar on Friday (9 October).

Estonia is also included in the 12-round series after being called-up at short notice to host a widely-praised post-lockdown restart event in September. It was the Baltic state’s first WRC appearance.

Kenya’s iconic Safari Rally and Japan, which were both included in this year’s schedule but cancelled due to the pandemic, are also listed. Spain returns after a year’s absence.

The season features nine European events and three outside Europe. It has been strategically designed to allow for a continued Covid-19 impact on international sport by scheduling the majority of rounds from June onwards.

The calendar was approved by the FIA, world motorsport’s governing body, and WRC Promoter managing director Jona Siebel said it would appeal to both competitors and WRC fans alike.

“The inclusion of Croatia to the WRC for the first time is an exciting new challenge to our fixture list and brings huge anticipation,” he added.

“Estonia’s championship debut a few weeks ago proved a massive success, even more so given the short time available to the organisers to prepare the rally. It fully deserves to retain its slot for 2021.”

The 2021 championship in detail

The season 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.

Croatia forms the third round and will be held on 22 - 25 April. It is the opening pure asphalt encounter and will be based in capital city Zagreb.

Portugal’s late-May fixture is the first of three hot weather gravel rounds. It is followed in June by Italy and Kenya, which completes the opening half of the championship.

The cancellation of this year’s Safari Rally Kenya, 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.

Fast dirt road rounds in Estonia and Finland open the season’s second sector in July ahead of August’s United Kingdom date.

WRC Promoter is in discussion with the UK governing body, Motorsport UK, which is working to confirm the required government funding. An announcement is expected to be forthcoming.

Two of the final three rounds take place outside Europe. Chile and Spain precede Japan, which hosts the coveted final round in November. Japan’s inclusion, 11 years after the previous WRC fixture there, marks mainstream Asia’s first appearance since then.

WRC Promoter develops strategy to combat effects of pandemic

The continued consequences of Covid-19, which led to the loss of several WRC rounds in 2020, had a major influence on the calendar structure.

After the opening rounds in Monte-Carlo and Sweden, winter events which cannot be moved from their early year dates, the season pauses for more than two months to allow maximum time for the effects of the pandemic to ease.

No rounds outside Europe are scheduled before late June and only a third of the 12 rounds will be held across the first five months of the year.

“Covid-19 has hit international sporting events extremely hard. WRC has not been spared, leading to the unfortunate cancellation of several events throughout 2020,” said Siebel.

“So, in developing the 2021 FIA World Rally Championship calendar, we had to take pragmatic and strategic decisions on the continuing impact on global travel next year.

“We could not foresee any long-haul events being held in a safe manner for the public, or for our large group of travelling staff, suppliers, competitors and media, for the first five months of 2021.

“It’s essential our event organisers are fully committed to managing the difficult Covid-19 controls we can expect to be in place next year while delivering high-quality championship rounds. I’m confident the 12 rallies chosen for next year will not let us down,” he added.

In a further measure, rallies in Turkey, Latvia, Belgium, Greece, Italy (Monza) and Argentina will be on a reserve list of contingency events in case of Covid-19 issues, the latter as an option for non-European rounds.

Championship Rounds

Posted: October 9, 2020 3:30 PM

  1. Monte Carlo (WRC) - 21-24 Jan 21
  2. Sweden (WRC) - 11-14 Feb 21
  3. Croatia (WRC) - 22-25 Apr 21*
  4. Portugal (WRC) - 20-23 May 21
  5. Italy (WRC) - 3-6 Jun 21
  6. Kenya Safari Rally (WRC) - 24-27 Jun 21
  7. Estonia (WRC) - 15-18 Jul 21*
  8. Finland (WRC) - 29 Jul-1 Aug 21
  9. UK (WRC) - 19-22 Aug 21*
  10. Chile (WRC) - 9-12 Sep 21
  11. Spain (WRC) - 14-17 Oct 21
  12. Japan (WRC) - 11-14 Nov 21
* Subject to agreement

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