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2020 World Rally Championship

Posted: November 27, 2019 7:05 AM - 1057 Hits

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.

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!


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


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

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
  4. Chile - 16-19 Apr 20
  5. Argentina - 30 Apr-3 May 20
  6. Portugal - 21-24 May 20
  7. Italy (Sardegna) - 4-7 Jun 20
  8. Kenya Safari Rally - 16-19 Jul 20
  9. Finland - 6-9 Aug 20
  10. New Zealand - 3-6 Sep 20
  11. Turkey - 24-27 Sep 20
  12. Germany - 15-18 Oct 20
  13. Rally GB - 29 Oct-1 Nov 20
  14. Japan - 19-22 Nov 20

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