Rally Mexico Issue 7, March 2013
Image: McKlein/Bas Romeny
Malcom Wilson- Gravel Crews - Monthly News Wrap-up
Ken Block was back to enterta in with his epic tr ademark powers lies. Image: McKlein/Bas Romeny
winding roads o n the high plan es and endless clouds o f dust, must be Mexico Image: McKlein/Bas Romeny
Ken had anothe r surprise when he brought out the Monster girls Image: McKlein/Bas Romeny
â€˜Atkoâ€™ returned as a stand-in f or the absent sheikh K haled al-qassim i Image: McKlein/Bas Romeny
Your monthly dose of WRC reports, news and of course the best images of the most exciting sport on the planet. We strive to bring you the best possible emag about the WRC. To be able to do so we need your support!
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Rally-eMag March 2013 / Contents
Heating up However beautiful the scenery may have been, none of us were really sorry that the WRC was heading to sunnier regions. After the blistering cold winds in Monte Carlo and massive amounts of snow in Sweden, Mexico provided a very welcome change of weather forecasts. Things got hot around Leon, not just because of the weather, but because of some hot rally action as well.
In this month’s issue... Gravel Crews Rally Mexico - La Fiesta Mexicano Page 9
- The shadow team
Malcolm Wilson - It’s the people that make the business
The Mexican event saw VW continue its quest towards world dominance, Thierry Neuville clinching his first podium finish and of course the return of two crowd favourites, Ken Block and Chris Atkinson. As if conditions weren’t hot enough yet, Ken Block decided to bring his team of ‘Monster Girls’ who did not really look all that monstry to us. In other news around the world, Peugeot launched the return of a legend when they announced the 208 R5 car would be known as the T16. Yes, that is a name that will tickle the fancy of the WRC connaisseurs (or just those that have been around long enough to have witnessed the mad Group B era of the eighties). Finally the F1/WRC mashup is reaching new heights. Kimi Raikkonen returned to F1 racing last year after a short stint in the WRC and took his first win since returning at the F1 season opener in Australia. Robert Kubica meanwhile has announced a reverse move and will be doing ERC and WRC programs this years for Citroen. Kubica has shown some pace on small local events and we are all very anxious to see how he gets on with the big boys! Enjoy reading!
Steven van Veenendaal Editor
Image: McKlein/Bas Romeny
Who made it? Publisher: Rally-eMag Words: Steven van Veenendaal, Harry van Veenendaal. Photography: Bas ter Haar Romeny, Steven van Veenendaal.
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Logo design: Minse Blom
PR Photography from: Peugeot Sport, Citroen Racing.
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Rally-eMag March 2013 / News
This month’s wrap up Kubica for WRC2
Image: Peugeot Sport
Return of a legend
Peugeot is using the legendary T16 branding on their new 208 R5 rally car. Back in the ‘80s Peugeot fielded the 205 T16 in the WRC to dominate the final two years of the Gr. B era. Timo Salonen and Juha Kankkunen took the drivers crown in ’85 and ’86 and aided the team in clinching two successive manufacturers titles. So now the name returns, though not in the top class like its infamous predecessor. The 208 T16 will run in the R5 class just below the top flight World Rally Cars.
Another former F1 winner is joining the WRC ranks soon. After various rally outings at national events, Robert Kubica is joining the WRC2 championship this year in a Citroën DS3 RRC. The car will be fitted with a specially adjusted gearbox, featuring a paddle on the left side of the steering wheel, to accommodate Kubica’s injury sustained in his 2011 crash at the Ronde di Andorra rally. Kubica will join the championship from Portugal and might will add five ERC rallies to his WRC2 program. Kubica impressed from the word go, leading ERC Rally Islas Canarias before going of on the second day.
Image: Citroën Racing
Rain and shine ‘Down Under’ Bad news for Rally Australia organizers as the scheduled course inspection of the stages had to be cancelled due to heavy rain. The rain caused flooding of the stages dragged trees onto the road. Should the rain fall come event time, the organizers are confident they will be able to clear the road in time. Good news came when Coates Hire was announced as title sponsor meaning the rally will henceforth be known as the Coates Hire Rally Australia.
Rally Gunajuato Mexico / Overview
Rally Guanjuato Mexico
Based in: Leon Date: 07-10/03/2013 Number of stages: 23 Shortest stage: Monster Street Stage Guanajuato â€“ 1.05 km Longest stage: Guanajuatito â€“ 54.85 km Total stage distance: 397 km Surface: Gravel Image: McKlein/Bas Romeny
Rally Guanajuato Mexico / Rally review
La Fiesta Mexicano The World Championship not only provides changes of scenery, but also some drastic climatic changes. This was once again the case at Rally Mexico. From the snowy sub zero temperatures of Monte Carlo and Sweden we moved to the hot and dusty plains of Mexico.
Words: Harry van Veenendaal Images: McKlein/Bas Romeny
Rally Guanajuato Mexico / Rally review 11/30
Cirtoën has dominated Rally Mexico in recent years and has the local crowd’s support.
So from a climatic point of view the contrast could not have been bigger, but what about the battles on the stages? Of course there was an enormous difference compared to last year. The Citroen 1, 2 of last year was a clear sign of things to come in 2012: near total domination of the French carmaker ending up in both the driver’s and constructors title. But in those days they still had Sebastien Loeb. Their superstar who, together with a car that suited him very well, proved to be unbeatable. But the nine times world champion choose to go into semi retirement and to find his excitement elsewhere. Mexico was the first rally he skipped this year so all eyes were on his successors. Within his own brand family that of course was Mikko Hirvonen, still chasing his first world title. In the other camps the focus of the attention of course
Smiles abound as the WRC finally heads to warmer places. Bring out the sunglasses!
was on the Volkswagen boys Ogier and Latvala. How would they cope with the totally different conditions and would the brand-new Polo R be competitive in the high altitude thin air of Mexico? I’m not Sebastien Loeb One of the obvious choices for a comparison is Ogier. He doesn’t only share his first name with the rally legend Loeb but also seems to have the same speed. Still he is not happy with this comparison. “It was great to compete with Loeb,” he said. “It helped my development as a driver. I’m sure I got faster from competing with him. But now it is enough. He is ten years older than I am and he is leaving the sport. Why do you keep on telling the world I’m the new Loeb? I’m not Loeb I’m Ogier!” Of course he is right but
being a journalist I have to add that the comparison is not that strange. Ogier is a very fast driver. He developed at rocket speed. Last year his development seemed to temporarily have stopped. But since Monte Carlo this year he is completely up to speed with everyone else. He is faster than Hirvonen, and also than teammate Latvala and both in Sweden and Mexico he was in a league of his own. So even Ogier should see the similarity between him and Loeb. But we understand he wants to be judged on his own merits. So we promise we won’t compare him with someone ‘from the past’. His own merits are strong enough. But for WRC’s sake we hope he will not be monopolizing the championship the way Loeb did. A fear certainly justified by his potential...
Rally Guanajuato Mexico / Rally review 12/30
Latvala Teammate Latvala has a completely different problem. In shear speed he might be second to almost none but he is not happy at the moment. It’s widely known the fast Finn can only be fast if he feels good. In this case we don’t mean physically good because being a top sportsman he is physically fit. No problem there, but his mental condition is not optimal. This is caused by the fact that he is not familiar with his new car yet. He started to prepare the car in the way he set up his Fiesta. Only the Polo is not a Fiesta. Latvala wants to feel a bit of movement in his car. So he set up his Polo in a rather soft way. The problem is the car was developed around Ogier. The general set up for the car to be fast is relatively hard. The way Ogier likes it. Like a go-kart. It means you have to drive the car extremely precise. You can’t throw it around a bit. If you do it is not fast (enough). So Latvala started with a set up to his liking but then the car did not perform. Then he used a special Ogier setup. But then Latvala did not feel at ease. So what we see now is a Latvala experimenting with his ideal set up. But where Ogier had a year to build the car to his liking outside the spotlight. Latvala has to do that with every camera focused on him. We awarded him a NOT Hot in Mexico which was a justified choice according to the result, but we hope he will get the chance to find his balance in the car. Because if that is the case we know he could challenge Ogier. For the championship that is an absolute must. Hirvonen Being one of our favourite drivers in the WRC it was hard to watch Hirvonen’s start of the season. It all began during the run-up to the season when he was preparing for the Monte. He made a very rare mistake during testing and rolled his car. “First day back in the office,” he told us during Citroen’s happy hour in Valence. In Sweden
he made an early mistake and was out of contention and in Mexico we heard him say “I may not have been fully awake yet…” So our advice: wake up Mikko! There is till time but not for very long anymore. Going back to the drawing board as we also heard him say does not sound like a realistic solution. So we would like to say: “Hey Mikko you’re a very fast driver, maybe fractionally slower than Ogier and Latvala, but your famous reliability is your most important asset, so use it. In Mexico this brought you second place so it is not that bad. You’ve got a good car; you’re fast and reliable, so start driving from the very start of every rally. Don’t blame your car, you have never done that before, so don’t start now.
Mikko is looking for answers to find out why the speed is not there.
JML has been unlucky so far and can’t match his teammate Ogier yet.
Rally Guanajuato Mexico / Rally review 13/30
Ostberg Everyone is looking at Volkswagen and Citroen but don’t misjudge Ford. In Mads Ostberg they found a very fast and reliable driver. To be perfectly honest, we thought the Norwegian was a good driver but not a TOP driver. But since quite some time now we changed our opinion. Last year already we saw him developing quite rapidly, but since he became an official factory driver he seems to develop even faster. Now he is fast, eager and very good in PR. The last thing doesn’t make him win rallies but it certainly helps him get out of the shadows. And once he’s got your attention and you start watching him on the stages you can only come to one conclusion: he is a real threat to everyone wanting to be champion. Due to some technical glitches you cannot see that so much from the leader board but mark our words he is a championship challenger. The others… It sounds a bit condescending but we don’t mean it like that. All people we will mention here must be seen as (future) rally winners. Only at this moment we don’t see them yet as championship contenders. The first one is Dani Sordo. He is still fighting for his first victory but we don’t see that coming very soon. In Mexico he was fourth behind teammate Hirvonen who was second, but also about a minute behind Neuville. This young Belgian definitely has future champion potential, testimony of his third place in Mexico. So another good pick from Malcolm Wilson. And then there is Evgeny Novikov, if you talk to him you feel he knows exactly where his problem is. He found himself some good coaches, he says he listens to them and still it goes wrong too often. We know he is fast. Possibly in the Ogier/Latvala league but he is still too unreliable. Let’s hope he starts listening to co driver Ilka all the time, then things should fine. Recently we heard Ilka Minor say: “I feel completely at ease if he is behind he wheel. Otherwise I would not be sitting next to him.” So let’s trust her judgement and it won’t be long before we see the Russian as a regular podium sitter.
Rally Guanajuato Mexico / Rally review 14/30
Hirvonen started well by winning the qualifying stage. He then had to succomb to Ogier but took home a solid second in the end.
Rally Guanajuato Mexico Qualifying provided a less than expected leaderboard. Winner was Mikko Hirvonen. “Now I only have to do this on all the other stages and then it will be all right,” he said. Second was our Russian friend Novikov. Neuville and Ostberg scored equal times and both followed in third place. Ogier was fifth. Are we watching a Hirvonen revival? If we look at the first skirmish on the iconic stage through the street tunnels of Guanajuato it’s all Fords we see. Neuville, Ostberg and Al-Attiyah (!) top the leaderboard. Then we see the Volkswagen squad led by Ogier
with Latvala less then half a second adrift in fifth. But how significant is this? The distance between number one and five being less then a second! Qualifying winner Hirvonen is in tenth… At the second stage, the 2.6 kilometre Parque Bicentenario, Ogier seems to have thought ‘OK boys, enough play, now we really start.” He does so by winning the stage, following behind at a tiny 0.1-seconds is Hirvonen followed by Ostberg. We’re not going to take you through all the stages. We just come to the conclusion that in this stage we already have the final classification for the first two!
Despite flying from time to time Latvala was left empty handed again.
Chain of events The main challenger in this event was, apart from Ogier, most of all Ostberg. In the early stages he makes live miserable for Ogier. He even tops the leaderboard for two stages. But again Ogier steps up his pace and passes his Norwegian rival. From that moment on he starts building a lead that proves to be insurmountable for all the other drivers. But a Volkswagen 1,2 is not possible as teammate Latvala meets with some bad luck again. A big stone thrown on the track by one of his predecessors suddenly materializes in front of his
Polo. Upon impact the steering rack snaps and the Finn retires for the day. “That is not Jari Matti’s fault,” Jost Capito hastens to comment. “We’ve been testing here and we knew that these kind of conditions exist in Mexico. So this part is not good enough, we have to go back and improve that. This is a typical example of what can happen in your first year in competition. Next year this rod will not snap anymore!” It’s true Capito predicted that these things can happen if you don’t have competition experience with a car. So we give Latvala the benefit of the doubt.
Rally Guanajuato Mexico / Rally review 15/30
Disappointment The most important other casualty during the rally was Mads Ostberg. After 14 stages he was in a solid second position. Not really threatened by third placed Hirvonen, who was about a minute behind him. In stage 14 however we saw a very unhappy Ostberg at the stage end. “The clutch is gone.” is about the only thing he says. A leak in the pressure system for the clutch causes the clutch to stop working. So every time the car has to stop the engine also stops. Then on the road section to stage 15 the alternator warning lights flash up on his dashboard. Not very much further the car stops as the batteries are completely flat, partly from jump starting the clutchless car. Quite uncharacteristically Ostberg injures his foot as he kicked his car out of sheer frustration. The Norwegian can’t remember having had such a big disappointment ever before.
The battle for second went to Hirvonen who used his consistency to fend of Neuville.
All or nothing One thing should not go unmentioned. That is the battle between the experienced Hirvonen and young gun Neuville (Our HOT for this issue) At the beginning of the last day he is trailing Hirvonen by 7,5 seconds. “I felt good,’ the young Belgian commented. “And Malcolm Wilson told me to go for it. So I did. On the stage I was faster than Hirvonen and virtually passed him on the leaderboard.” But then he slid a bit wide and ended up in a ditch. He did come out but lost 20 seconds. He chose to back off and finish the rally on the podium. The first time in his carreer but by the looks of it, surely not the last.
Despite a last minute off which cost him second, Neuville was delighted with his first podium finish in the WRC
Rally Guanajuato Mexico / Final results 16/30
Final result 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10.
Ogier-Ingrassia Hirvonen-Lehtinen Neuville-Gilsoul Sordo-del Barrio Al-Attiyah-Bernacchini Atkinson-Prevot Block-Gelsomino Guerra-Rozada Prokop-Hruza Novikov-Minor
VW Polo R WRC Citroen DS3 WRC Ford Fiesta WRC Citroen DS3 WRC Ford Fiesta WRC Citroen DS3 WRC Ford Fiesta WRC Citroen DS3 WRC Ford Fiesta WRC Ford Fiesta WRC
4.30.27,0 +3.28,9 +4.23,8 +6.06,7 +8.34,5 +11.28,0 +11.48,3 +12.49,8 +14.29,0 +17.15,3
Image: McKlein/Bas Romeny
Rally Guanajuato Mexico / Standings
Image: McKlein/Bas Romeny
Championship standings 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10.
Sebastien Ogier Sebastien Loeb Mikko Hirvonen Dani Sordo Mads Ostberg Thierry Neuville Jari-Matti Latvala Martin Prokop Bryan Bouffier Nasser Al-Attiyah
Manufacturer standings VW Polo R WRC Citroën DS3 WRC Citroën DS3 WRC Citroën DS3 WRC Ford Fiesta WRC Ford Fiesta WRC VW Polo R WRC Ford Fiesta WRC Citroën DS3 WRC Citroën DS3 WRC
74 points 43 points 30 points 27 points 26 points 25 points 15 points 14 points 10 points 10 points
1. Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team 87 points 2. Volkswagen Motorsport 80 points 3. Qatar M-Sport World Rally Team 37 points 4. Qatar World Rally Team 35 points 5. Abu Dhabi Citroën Total World Rally Team 23 points 6. Jipocar Czech National Team 14 points 7. Lotos WRC Team 14 points
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Rally Guanajuato Mexico / Special Stage 19/30
Special Stage Monster Street Stage Guanajuato - 1.05 km
You can’t win the rally here but you can definitely lose it is a famous saying. This certainly applies to the Guanajuato street stage. Narrow streets sneak through the Guanajuato town centre. Passing unforgiving curbs and graffiti lined tunnels creating impressive noises that only barely drown the enthusiastic cheers of the omnipresent Mexican spectators. The stage is tiny, merely a kilometer, but it is unlike any other in the world. After the drivers cross the podium for the ceremonial start they make a turn left and immediately find themselves at the start of the first stage. The sun has already set but light is in abundance from the streetlights and sea of flashes from the Mexican fan’s cameras. The atmosphere is incredible as the first driver makes his way to the start. Once the clock has counted down the stage commences with a tight hairpin and immediately on to the section which makes this stage so special.
Images: McKlein/Bas Romeny
point one of the mines accounted for two-thirds of the world’s silver production. As the mines ran out, the tunnels lost their original function and now do service as (very tight!) regular roads. Once the WRC’s power down the road into the tunnels all you can think of is the noise. The sound is amplified and echoes at you like you’ve never experienced and even though it only lasts a couple of seconds it’s something that will stick with you forever. The stage doesn’t just race through one of the tunnels in a straight line, it is mostly made up of the tunnels and contains some actual underground bends. Something you don’t see anywhere else as far as we know.
Once the cars resurface there is another treat in store for the fans. Near the end of the stage is a round-a-bout around which a full lap has to be done, just like we saw in Spain last year. This one is slightly different though, darkness, slippery cobblestones and massive, MASSIVE crowds. The tunnels underneath GuaAs the WRC’s powerslide najuato were once part of the around, the crowd turns into a mining system that made the city frenzy. Only 25 cars took to the rich. The mines in and around start this year, so within an hour Guanajuato were so rich with the fun is over. No matter, time silver and other minerals that to grab a tequilla and head to the they sparked the city to become Parque Bicentenario down the one of the most influential cities road for some more late night during the colonial period. At one rally action hombres!
Rally Guanajuato Mexico / Whoâ€™s hot? 20/30
Whoâ€™s hot? Thierry Neuville Ford Fiesta WRC Qatart M-Sport World Rally Team
At the high altitude Rally Mexico it was Thierry Neuville who took his driving to unknown heights. A mistake-free rally took the young Belgian to his best result ever as he finished third overall. It may have taken the last minute demise of his teammate Mads Ostberg to actually make the step unto the podium, but that is rallying. Things happen and you are never save until you are actually standing on the bonnet of your car with a trophy in hand. In the WRC it was the first time for Thierry and probably not the last. The sweetness of the result will certainly boost his confidence and provides a base for even greater things to come.
Images: McKlein/Bas Romeny
Rally Guanajuato Mexico / Whoâ€™s not?
Whoâ€™s not? Jari Matti Latvala VW Polo R WRC Volkswagen Motorsport
2013 Provides a tough start for Jari Matti Latvala at his new Volkswagen home. Although Latvala is labelled as the official VW number one driver (though the team has already indicated he and Ogier are on level terms) he is being thoroughly outshined by his French teammate. Ogier was a challenger in Monte Carlo and took the wins in Sweden and Mexico, thus proving that the new car is very capable. Latvala on the other hand has been nowhere near that pace and was forced out of Rally Mexico after hitting a rock which ripped a bolt from the suspension.
Images: McKlein/Bas Romeny
Rally-eMag March 2013 / Feature
Drivers are usually the stars of the WRC. Co-drivers often find themselves in their shadow though from time to time they also take some of the credit. However there is an entire team behind the succes these two reach. This month we look at another vital part of that team: The gravel crews. Words: Steven van Veenendaal Images: Steven van Veenendaal & Bas Romeny
â€œ As I am driving on those notes, I have to able to completely trust them. And yeah, I trust my father!â€? - Mads Ostberg
Rally-eMag March 2013 / Feature 23/30
We all know rallying is a team sport. Especially in top line rallying these teams can be quite extensive. It all starts with engineers designing the cars, taking notes from the drivers during tests to improve them and a whole logistics team to make sure everyone and everything gets to the events. Once there, the mechanics usually make the longest days of anyone in the team, building up the service park, servicing the cars and taking down the service park again at the end of the rally. Meanwhile doctors are on site to prepare the drivers in the best way possible and provide the necessary services should someone sustain an injury. Most teams also have their own chef present to make sure this whole team is fed properly. Once out on the stages it’s up to the driver to take all that preparation and turn it into performance. Without his co-driver, he stands no chance though. But behind (or actually ahead of) the driver and co-driver there is a shadow crew running all stages two hours early. If you’ve ever been to a WRC event you have probably seen them. White cars carrying no more indication than a single starting number carefully driving around the stages just before the main event takes place. Ford has used its indestructible Volvo S60’s seemingly forever, while most other teams use incognito Mitsubishi Lancers. These are the gravel crews (or ice note crews as they are known in Monte Carlo and Sweden). Their job is to check the pace notes and make sure nothing has changed on the stages. With ever changing weather conditions this is often not the case. The gravel crews then have the task of updating the notes to make sure that the puddles of mud that were formed during last night’s
rain, or those patches of ice that suddenly froze up on the stage are included in the notes. Updates are phoned to the co-driver who updates his notebook accordingly. A short few hours later the actual crew will be running the stages at full speed, fighting for seconds. It is thus quite important that these changes to the notes are accurate and of the highest quality. Apart from the skill of the gravel crew, this also means the driver has to have a lot of confidence in his gravel crew. When we asked some of the drivers who their gravel crew were, we got some interesting answers. Evgeny Novikov switches his crew from rally to rally and as Denis Giraudet is still not fully recovered from his injury to participate in rallies, he provides a very solid and experienced base for the gravel crew. In Monte Carlo, none other than 1994 winner Francois Delecour partnered him. “I am not very experienced at this rally, but these guys have some experience” he smirkingly added. So, a crew with a lot of local experience is the way to go then. Well, others had a slightly different approach as Thierry Neuville explained. “My gravel guy is actually the one with whom I drove my first ever rally… as a co-driver! We didn’t last too long because after about ten kilometers I told him to stop because I was so scared! I decided to have a go at the other seat, which did not turn out too bad… But we are still good friends and I trust him 100% so he is my ideal gravel crew.” An even tighter link can be found across the room. Mads Ostberg enthusiastically replied “Morten!” when we asked him who made his gravel notes. To later add “He’s my father and good friend Ola Floene is his co-driver. They copy our notes and improve them. As I am driving on those notes, I have to able to completely trust them. And yeah, I trust my father!”
Rally-eMag March 2013 / Interview
Malcolm Wilson Itâ€™s the people that make the business!
Words: Harry van Veenendaal
Image: Bas Romeny
Rally-eMag March 2013 / Interview 25/30
Q: Why did Ford break the contract.at the end of summer last year, after barely one year while it was a 2 year contract? A: Everyone knows Ford is losing money at the moment, it is so bad that it is forcing them to close down factories. When we signed the contract at the end of 2011 we knew there was a clause in it enabling them to terminate it early if the economical situation made that necessary and if we were notified prior to September. It was an understandable decision by Ford, it’s business, it’s life.
Q: Then the deal with Qatar was announced, quite a surprise as they were involved with Citroën earlier. A: We had been in contact with Nasser (AlAttiyah ed.) for quite some time already. I flew to Cyprus for the final round of the IRC and to come to an agreement with Nasser there. Our main aim was to reach a deal that allowed us to remain competitive. We managed to do that and also retained continued support from Ford. That support is crucial if you want to remain competitive.
Q: You were quick to say you would continue in the WRC. A: Indeed but it was not quite that simple. We always wanted to continue. But we were not sure if it could be done. I can honestly say this has been the most difficult part of my business life, to have to tell the bad news to 200 employees. It was uncertain for us if we could find the financing to continue, so it was also uncertain for them if their jobs would be continued.
Q: How do you see the future with Ford? A: It’s difficult right now, but if we do a fantastic performance and the economy picks up, who knows? They might return to the sport. The cooperation we have with them is still very good and we need to keep it that way. That is why you still can see quite a few Ford logo’s on the car.
Q: What do you need from Ford to remain competitive in the sport? A: It’s an absolutely necessity to keep in very close contact with their development departments. We need access to designs of the car and to some of their resources. They have equipment to do modelling of for example our suspension designs. They also produce great injection engines, they are just a great resource for us. Q: Are those things still sufficiently available for you? A: Yes, from an engineering point of view nothing has changed in the way we collaborate. It’s just the hard cash that is missing now! Wilson’s comany M-Sport has been running the official Ford team for nearly two decades. Images: Steven van Veenendaal
Rally-eMag March 2013 / Interview
Q: Let’s move to your drivers now. How did you put together this driver lineup? A: It’s no different from Formula One, a lot of drivers bring in sponsors and cash. We first reached an agreement with Mads (Ostberg ed.) and Evgeny (Novikov ed.) and then we were able to add two more drivers. I think we have three of the hottest young guns in the sport. I really enjoy working with these young guys and developing them in the sport. Q: How are things different for the young guys to join the factory team? A: They get a lot more seat time which really helps them. Mads already did more testing this year than the entire previous season. Q: What are your goals for the coming season? A: We aim to win rallies.
Q: The FIA officially granted you Manufacturer status. Can you explain why you worked so hard to get this? A: In order to homologate new parts, that you need to remain competitive, you need to be a manufacturer. The FIA wanted us to be so as well. Of course we did have to pay the manufacturer’s fee! We do the updates of all the parts but the official homologation is done by Ford, so again you can see why the collaboration with Ford is so important to us. Q: How long is the contract with Qatar? A: We now have a one year contract
with Qatar. We are very grateful for the opportunity. We are talking with them about the possibilities to extend the contract, but of course we have to perform. Q: Juho Hänninen drives for the team, but he only had two rallies. A: Yes Juho has had two rallies for now. His management decides for him how to continue now. I don’t dismiss him doing a large part of the championship. We need to see what he does and go from there. Q: What are your thoughts about the new promoter of the championship? A: It’s still early days. The new promoter is just getting started. They need some time, however time is the one thing the sport does not have. It is a real problem that we don’t have guaranteed tv coverage in the UK. The sport has rally suffered in the UK due to the lack of TV coverage. That also had an impact on Ford and their decision to withdraw. Promoting the WRC is not a five minute job. We just have to hope for a quick solution. What we needed was a credible promoter who have showed that they are capable of promoting events on this level. I have confidence that we have that promoter in Red Bull. Everyone knows that they do things properly as soon as they learn the business. Wilson’s young guns Mads Ostberg (top) and Thierry Neuvile (bottom). In the middle Mikko Hirvonen and Jarmo Lehtinen, who left ‘the family’ for Citroën but still remain good friends of Wilson. Images: McKlein/Bas Romeny
Rally-eMag March 2013 / Interview
Q: There are new classes with the different R-cars and you seem to be running cars in all of them! A: Yes, we need to be in those classes to be able to run this team. We strive to make the sport as user friendly as possible. I believe things are simpler now and the R5 cars are the future. They cost about half of what a WRC car costs and they are not that much slower. The building blocks are in place for good championships in the future.
ta R5 will be about fifty percent of the cost. I am really pleased with it, it will be very competitive. We look to homologate it in April and have people actually running it in June. People obviously have great confidence in us as we already have seven deposits in without people actually having driven or even seen the car.
Q: So how did the changes affect your team? A: My biggest concern was that we had to say goodbye to people we have been Q: What is the difference be- working with for a long time. tween an RRC and an R5? Eventually we only lost fifteen A: The RRC car is basically a people. You can have all the WRC with a different restricmoney in the world, but in tor, flywheel and spoiler kit. At the end the people make the this moment we actually sell business. So I am really glad the WRC with the RRC kit we were able to keep most of included to allow competiour people. tors to drive them in both the WRC and regional championships in which WRC cars are not allowed. They are top of the range cars while the Fies-
The M-Sport team feels like a family, even when injured, Malcolmâ€™s son Matthew is present. Media members also enjoy hanging out at the ever friendly M-Sport motorhome. Images: McKlein/Bas Romeny
Rally-eMag March 2013 / And now... 28/30
And now for something completely different... Words & Images: Bas Romeny
At ceremonial start. Low positioned and using wide angle lens does not help to make appropriate pictures. (at all..)
Top: Last year Bottom: Back again, with same donkey.. Grew 10 cm and has a machete now..
Rally-eMag March 2013 / And now...
Oi! A Mad Max wheel!
Mexico IS quite colourful!
My favorite. Mango, lemon, salt and chili pepper.
Why on earth do they dig out trees and put them back upside down?
Do it yourself kit car set. Cheap.
Next issue mid April covering Rally de Portugal. See you there!