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WALES RALLY GB Latvala leads Loeb

A WEEK IN PARIS

The Paris Motor Show and the World Motorsport Council

Issue 2, October 2012

COLIN MCRAE

Tribute to the legend five years after

Image: Ford NL


Rally-eMag October 2012 / Colofon

Welcome! To the second issue of Rally-eMag. We look to bring you a monthly report of what happened in and around the WRC. Each issue will feature reports of the rallies ran that month. Each rally in the championship has its own unique character which is usually resembled in one of the special stages. Therefore we pick one of the stages from each rally and tell its story. We also look at the drivers, codrivers and teams, who was hot and who was not?

In this month’s issue... Wales Rally GB Colin McRae

A week in Paris

- Latvala leads Loeb

- A tribute, five years after

- The most important news from the Paris Motor Show and the World Motor Sport Council

Page 4

Page 13

Page 15

We write this magazine as lovers of the sport. Having followed the WRC since the early nineties we have been to many rallies, seen many drivers come and go, witnessed the rise and fall of the original WRC cars and witnessed the birth of such stars as Tommi Makinen, Marcus Gronholm, Richard Burns, Petter Solberg and Sebastien Loeb. Yet no matter how often you see these guys do what they do, it never grows old. There is simply no describing the feeling of a 300 bhp car thundering down a road, lined with trees, at speeds seemingly impossibly high. We don’t need to tell you this as you probably know the feeling. We just wanted you to know we are on the page, we made this because we love it. Hopefully we can capture the essence of the sport for you in words and images. This magazine is only the second issue so there are probably a lot of things we can improve. Although we have been writing about the sport for many years in various outlets, building an entire magazine is a new endeavour for us. So we want to hear from you! If you have an thoughts on how we can improve the magazine, let us know at info@rallyemag.com or comment us on our Facebook page (http:// www.facebook.com/emagrally) Enjoy reading!

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Steven van Veenendaal Editor

Image: Michelin Racing

Who made it? Publisher: Rally-eMag Words: Steven van Veenendaal, Harry van Veenendaal. Photography: Steven van Veenendaal, Harry van Veenendaal.

Who helped?

Who we thank!

How to reach us?

Logo design: Minse Blom

PR Photography from: Ford NL, M-Sport, Citroen Racing, Michelin Racing, Mini Team Motorsport Italia, Hyundai Pers.

Email: info@rally-emag.com Web: www.rally-emag.com Facebook: www.facebook.com/ emagrally Twitter: @emagrally Issuu: www.issuu.com/rally-emag

Distribution: Issuu.com


Wales Rally GB / Overview

Wales Rally GB

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Based in: Cardiff Date: 13-16/09/2012 Number of stages: 19 Shortest stage: Celtic Manor – 3.04 km Longest stage: Myherin – 27.88 km Total stage distance: 325 km Surface: Gravel Image: Citroen Racing


Wales Rally GB / Rally review 4/19

Latvala leads Loeb I

t took a long time, but finally Latvala could climb the highest step on the podium and happily spray the winner’s champagne again. For the second time this year and the seventh time in his career. “He simply was to fast for me,” commented Loeb. “This time!” he hastened to add.

The route After last year’s rally there was a bit of criticism form the drivers’ side. This criticism focused on the long distances between the several venues. Here is a problem for the organisers. A major part of their budget comes from the Wales government and they want the rally to be a Welsh event. That means form Cardiff to Only some 30 crews were on the Llandudno! Another problem was entry list of Wales Rally GB. An abthe issue of Builth Wells. Due to solute minimum for this event that the change of date of the event, this used to easily attract between 100 year the cattle market was simply and 200 competitors. Live tv covernot available for the central service age was (almost) non existent which zone as an important cattle market is very bad for getting sponsorship. was scheduled there. The outcome This is a serious situation that needs had little surprise. Most of the route attention, from the organisation consisted of the well-known stages, committee, as well as from the mocentral service went back to Cardiff torsports authorities national and and the Great Orme stage was (reinternational. It is an important gretfully) dropped. The ceremonial message to FIA not that they are start however was still in the north. solely to blame but they should have On Thursday evening Llandudno a good story at the World Motor served as the scenic background for Sports Council (WMSC) that is due this. The next morning competitors on September 28th. First issue on headed south for the famous stages our agenda: who’ll be the new WRC of Dyfnant, Hafren/Sweet Lamb and promoter, second who takes care of Myherin. The service of Builth Wells TV coverage? More about this in this was substituted by a remote service edition of Rally-eMag. in Newtown. In the afternoon this loop of stages was repeated and Now we proceed to the actual event. after that everyone started a jourAccording to our views this was one ney to Welsh capital Cardiff for the of the best of this season. A thriller overnight service. On Saturday the that lasted until halfway the last journey continued for two rounds of stage. The key players: Latvala, Loeb Epynt, Crychan and Halfway and and Solberg. In that order.

Latvala dominated in Wales. Image: Michelin Racing

Chased by a hungry French predator.

Image: Citroen Racing


Wales Rally GB / Rally review

Loeb fell behind early on but eventually jumped back into second. Image: Citroen Racing

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a sweet dessert at Celtic Manor golf course, before coming back to Cardiff again. On the final day distances were a bit shorter as Port Talbot, Rheola and Walter’s Arena were on the menu, the last one serving as powerstage.

Mads Ostberg was right on the pace again to take a well deserved fourth place despite a misfiring Fiesta. Image: M-Sport

Harder and higher The following morning Østberg continued his challenge by winning the first stage. But that is it for the day. He is constantly bothered by the fact he is carrying two spares. The excess weight makes it impossible for him The battle begins to challenge the leaders who only carry one. Loeb slowly crawls back but Solberg thundered to a win on the first two stages. But Latvala reciprocated Latvala is in control. On the second morning stage, he loses less than half on his favourite Myherin stage. (“I think this Is the best stage in this rally, a second to Loeb, but on all the other stages he is faster than his French perhaps even in the whole championship,” he said before the start.) And contender. For Solberg it is a bit different. During the first loop his lead Myherin was only the start. He continued winning all other stages of the shrinks to four seconds. “It did not go as planned this morning,” he told us. day. The overnight rain had changed conditions in such a way that most The set up is a bit too soft. Yesterday that was okay but today it’s not.” Durcompetitors were puzzled with the muddy and slippery stages. Especially ing the midday service he had his Fiësta set up changed a little harder and Loeb made clear he wasn’t happy with the lack of grip supposedly caused by higher and it worked, as he won two of the afternoon stages. Latvala won the wrong set up for these conditions. The shear dominance on the smooth the others and being an enthusiastic golfer, was particularly happy with his and very fast Finnish gravel stages seemed completely gone in the wet win on the Celtic Manor golf stage. “This was my best superspecial ever,” he Welsh forest. Even Mikko very unchacteristically moaned: “We don’t have laughed at the end of the day. any f*cking grip!” leaving stage end reporter Colin Clark and WRC Radio host Becsy flabbergasted. A fifth place at the end of the day was all he got Thrilling finale for his hard work. Former teammate Jari Matti Latvala wasn’t bothered, he “I don’t have to win here,” said Loeb before the start of the rally in his usual was in the lead, followed by teammate Peter Solberg. Sebastien Loeb was in cool. Obviously he referred to his chances of winning the championship. third but it has been a long time that he was 20 seconds off the pace after But a true sportsman like Loeb hates to lose in any battle. It’s true at the day one. (The other way around, a 20 second lead, being the normal situaend of day two he said Jari Matti is simply to fast for me.” Jari Matti might tion). In fourth we saw Mads Østberg who desperately wants to prove he is be but Solberg… And yes at the first stage the next and final day he closed capable of challenging the factory boys and consequently is in line for such the six seconds gap to a mere one second. At the next stage he took another a factory drive. two and thus passed Solberg. This 0,7 gap widened to three seconds, but


Wales Rally GB / Rally review

then Solberg woke up and set fasted time to come back to the second spot. But obviously the battle was not yet over. Loeb came back and was second again with a 0,4 sec. gap. The decision would come in the powerstage. “I’m not going to throw everything away now,” both drivers said. Still the powerstage was very exciting. Latvala was way to far away but what would the two gladiators of the day do? On the first split time Solberg was marginally faster but then he made a small mistake and Loeb won by less than one second. It is not often you see someone so happy being second and certainly not Loeb, but he was happy and both opponents hugged thanking each other for a terrific fight! But on the highest step of the podium it was Latvala. By controlling the entire rally he proved he really belongs to the best drivers, possibly one of the very few to be able to challenge Loeb.

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The championship At Citroen they have to wait one more rally before they can wave the flags. But they can relax. The manufacturer’s title is within easy reach and no matter who will be the driver’s champion, in any case it will be a Citroen driver! To be continued in France, where we can see if Latvala is really as good on asphalt as he showed in Germany. The other teams In fourth place it was Mads Østberg, but before he reached the finish ramp he had quite a scare when, before setting off for the last day, his engine refused to start. After several attempts the team decide to throw the towel but then all of the sudden the engine coughingly started and after some revs it started to run smoothly so the towel was picked up again and the Norwegian Adapta team driver resumed to finish fourth in the rally. Less fortunate was Matthew Wilson. Although a bit rusty in driving skills after an absence since the beginning of this year caused by a running accident, he soon picked up the speed again only to be caught by the

same mishap as Østberg’s: a misfiring engine. “That was unfortunate,” said Matthew Wilson. “But when that was over it went quite okay again. It certainly makes me want more, so tanks to the people from Cumbria for making this possible. At this moment we are looking to a few options for a further programme this year and hopefully next. I’ve really missed competing in the WRC.” In the WRC Team MINI Portugal they were not completely happy. Chris Atkinson after a solid drive was ready to get a tenth place with the championship point belonging Image: Citroen Racing to that. However in the final stage a part of his rear Nasser Al-Attiyah is a busy man. Skipping France to wheel setup broke causing him to stumble to the prepare for Dakar, he missed Rally Germany to win stage finish. An emergency repair by the crew was bronze in Skeetshooting at the Olympics. necessary to make it to the finish in Cardiff. Paulo Nobre was not so happy. He retired on the road section to stage 17. A vibration in the engine had caused the alternator belt to break. The M-sport team was happy with sixth place for Novikov and his new co-driver Ilka Minor. In the Qatar team it was Neuville in seventh and Al-Attiyah in 10th. The young Belgian was later rewarded or his achievement. He may now start in France to replace Al Attiyah who has other commitments. (In this case preparing his buggy for Dakar)

Image: Mini Team Motorsport Italia

Above: Atkinson failed to make an impact. Though on course for a top ten finish, a misfire near the end of the rally dropped him to eleventh. Left: It’s been a long wait for Jari Matti Latvala and the entire Ford team, but that just makes the champagne taste all the better.

Image: Michelin Racing


Wales rally GB / Final results 7/19

Final result 1. Latvala-Antilla Ford Fiesta 2. Loeb-Elena Citroen DS3 3. Solberg-Patterson Ford Fiesta 4. Ostberg-Andersson Ford Fiesta 5. Hirvonen-Lehtinen Citroen DS3 6. Novikov-Minor Ford Fiesta 7. Neuville-Gilsoul Citroen DS3 8. Wilson-Martin Ford Fiesta 9. Prokop-Hruza Ford Fiesta 10. Al-Attiyah- Bernacchini Citroen DS3

WRC 3.03.40,3 WRC +27,8 WRC +28,7 WRC +1.10,6 WRC +1.29,5 WRC +3.37,0 WRC +4.11,9 WRC +6.00,4 WRC +6.58,9 WRC +9.32,1 Image: Ford NL


Wales Rally GB / Standings

Image: Citroen Racing

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Championship standings 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10.

Sebastien Loeb Mikko Hirvonen Petter Solberg Mads Ostberg Jari-Matti Latvala Evgeny Novikov Martin Prokop Thierry Neuville Dani Sordo Sebastien Ogier

Manufacturer standings Citroën DS3 WRC Citroën DS3 WRC Ford Fiesta WRC Ford Fiesta WRC Ford Fiesta WRC Ford Fiesta WRC Ford Fiesta WRC Citroën DS3 WRC Mini John Cooper Works WRC Skoda Fabia S2000

219 points 158 points 119 points 114 points 113 points 63 points 40 points 38 points 31 points 31 points

1. Citroën Total World Rally Team 348 points 2. Ford World Rally Team 237 points 3. M-Sport Ford World Rally Team 123 points 4. Qatar World Rally Team 63 points 5. Adapta World Rally Team 61 points 6. Citroën Junior World Rally Team 60 points 7. MINI WRC Team 26 points 8. Brazil World Rally Team 20 points


Wales Rally GB / Special Stage

Special Stage Walters Arena - 15.33 km

T

hroughout the long history of the event Wales Rally GB has included some of the greatest and most fearsome stages in the world. The lion share of these stages, with classics as Dyfnant, Chrychan, Halfway, Gartheiniog, Myherin and Rheola lie in the Welsh region where the rally is currently held. We look at a stage that used to be part of the Rheola stage but now has its very own status, Walters Arena. Amongst rallying purist you can often hear discussion about the inclusion of special spectator sections, also known as super specials, in rallies. Some like them and argue that they bring the sport closer to the fans while others say that rallying is meant to take place in secluded forests with no room for the masses. Super specials often take the form of a rallycross-like venue with two cars on the track simultaneously racing head to head. In places like these the old saying ‘you can’t win the rally here, but you can certainly lose it’ holds true. Differences between top drivers seldom exceed five seconds, but hard Armco barriers right at the side of the road have a tendency to induce heavy damage often impact.

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We have seen these events take place in specially built venues such as the tracks in Turkey or Poland. In Finland they have used skiing slopes in the past and in the latest events the horse trotting track of Jyvaskyla has been the scene of fan friendly rally watching. Rally crazy Portugal ran a stage through a packed football stadium, just like they did in Athens some years ago. The most extreme example was found in Argentina in 2007. The organizers thought it would be a good idea to have the cars run through the Riverplate stadium in downtown Buenos Aires. Quite a spectacle but the problem was that Buenos Aires is located some 750 km from Villa Carlos Paz, the rally HQ. Heavy mist grounded air traffic to a hold that night, which meant the teams could not make the flight back. As a result the entire first day of stages had to be cancelled. Not everyone was too thrilled with this... In the UK the special purpose spectator stages have long taken a special role in the world of rallying. They have become a regular feature on the rallies although in a slightly different form than most other super specials in the

Image: Michelin Racing

world. In the eighties and nineties the RAC Rally (as Wales Rally GB was known then) used to run for almost an entire week from Sunday till Wednesday. The Sunday was often dedicated entirely to the fans. The cars would run various stages through parklands which provided excellent viewing opportunities for the fans but never held much favor amongst the drivers. In 1998 Tommi Makinen and Carlos Sainz lost the World Championship crown to each other on these stages. On the opening day Tommi ripped of one the rear wheels of his Mitsubishi after sliding over a patch


Wales Rally GB / Special Stage

of oil into a concrete block lining the road. This ended his rally, giving Sainz a free ride home to the title. The rally concluded with a run through Margam Park. Some 500 meters before the end of that stage the engine of Sainz’s Toyota died giving the title back to Makinen. We understand the desire of the FIA and organizers to run super specials on an event but at the same time we don’t really love them. They are easier to organize and control than a regular stage and they give people who don’t want to enter the forests an opportunity to witness the sport first hand. On the other hand they are ‘made’, they are short and feature unnatural twists and turns giving it a ‘Mickey Mouse’ feel. In all honesty, we are not

When the cars first come into sight they come storming down the hill taking two hairpins with a long straight in between. As they reach the bottom of the valley they are launched at the first of three jumps. A long wide left hander followed by a tight right hairpin takes the cars towards to the next, sort of straight, section. Two jumps, of which the first has a nasty bump which launches the cars at an awkward angel, take place right in front of the crowds on the hill. After the second jump the crews take a dive as they splash through on of the canals feeding the lake in the middle. After this watersplash the cars race uphill until a left hander takes them to the other side of the hill, the point at which they finally go out of sight of the fans. But not to worry, it takes the top guys just under a minute to get through the section meaning it’s not long until the next competitor will be coming down the hill to start the whole thing over again.

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really fans of the concept. Some stages however, are the exception to the rule. Walters Arena is one of these exceptions. The old coal mining area is definitely not a super special in the traditional sense of the word but it shares some important characteristics. The area boosts a small lake around which part of the stage is run. It features two large natural hills from which the huge crowds can follow the cars for over a mile. The great thing about this stage is the possibility the see the cars for a long section, while at some point the cars also pass by at very short distance. The section provides everything a rally can offer, squeezed into a single mile stretch and all visible from one point. The best thing about it is the roads are just scattered around for the sake of coal mining, not purpose-build for rallying, giving it an authentic ‘rally-feel’.

Previous: Sebastien Loeb flying over one of the jumps. Left: An overview of the spectator area of the Walters Arena stage.


Wales Rally GB / Who’s hot? 11/19

Who’s hot? Jari Matti Latvala Ford Fiesta WRC M-Sport Ford World Rally Team to pinpoint who was hot during Wales Rally GB. The honor of course goes IttowasJarinotMattihardLatvala. The Fin calls this his second home rally as he first started rallying here at the age of 17. That clearly showed in the confidence with which he was driving. Rally Finland was a huge disappointment for him, while in Germany he showed signs of regaining confidence. It all came together in Wales. Teammate Solberg took the early lead but halfway through the opening day Latvala stormed past to never look back. Winning 8 out of 19 stages he brought home a commanding 30 second lead to give Ford the second win of the season it so desperately needed.

Image: Michelin Racing

Image: Michelin Racing


Wales Rally GB / Who’s not? 12/19

Who’s not? Mikko Hirvonen Citroen DS3 WRC Citroen Total World Rally Team

Hirvonen was struggling throughout the event. Citroen got it all Mikko wrong tire wise on the opening day which gave the Fords a nice cush-

ion. But while teamleader Loeb managed to cling on during the remainder of the rally and claw his way back up to second, Hirvonen never got back in the thick of things. Testimony of his frustration showed at one of the stage end interviews where he uncharacteristically resorted to some heavy cursing. His ironic response at the end of the rally though, said it all: ‘Well, in the end it wasn’t a total disaster…’

Image: Citroen Racing


Rally-eMag October 2012 / Colin McRae

Colin McRae Five years after This year’s Wales Rally GB marked the fifth anniversary of Colin McRae’s fatal helicopter crash. The local hero was of course remembered during the event. We would like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to the great man too. When talking about McRae you can mention his achievements of becoming the youngest World Rally Champion ever. Or about how he at one point was the most successful driver ever (when judged by the number of WRC victories). However perhaps more than by the shear number of wins McRae will always be remembered for his cool outside the car and flamboyance inside it. This combination captured the hearts of many fans and he was perhaps the first driver to really put rallying on the map. He reached an audience far wider than the typical hardcore rally fans. When he collaborated with Codemasters to create the Colin McRae Rally videogame many people who had never heard of the sport suddenly got interested. Even today when you mention rallying to someone he is the first one many mention, far more famous than for example Sebastien Loeb.

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Apart from reaching people outside the world of rallying, McRae was also a firm favorite for those actively involved. When on the stage one could sense the anticipation when McRae was due to come through next. The man had natural near perfect car control and was always driving at the very limit. This combination provided some of the most spectacular images ever witnessed in rallying. Who doesn’t remember his early years drifting the bulky Subaru Legacy to his first win in New Zealand? Or his sideways jumps at Bunnings in Australia which seemed impossible to land yet Colin succeeded in doing so with amazing ease.


Rally-eMag October 2012 / Colin McRae

vided some of those typical images of a completely battered car being driven on the limit. Another stage later McRae was right back in the thick of things and pushing hard as ever until he rolled again. After the stage we encountered him roadside swinging a sledge hammer at the car to provide some room for the wheels. After clearing some space for the wheels he proceeded to kick the trunk back in shape to make sure everything could be tightened again. After a couple of minutes the car looked a wreck and surely non-driveable, but McRae managed a faint smile. Apparently thinking ‘Job well done, I can drive this again!’ And so he did, completing the rally in a car which seemed to collapse if a slightly overweight fly would have landed on it. Victory was out of sight, but an incredibly well deserved sixth was eventually his.

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Our most remarkable memories were created in the later years of his career. In 2002 McRae was driving for Ford and was having a tough season. Some excursions of the road and technical issues had hampered his progress and McRae was falling behind in the championship. The fifth round of the championship was held in Cyprus, a new addition to the championship. McRae knew he had to do well to revitalize his championship ambitions. The rough roads of Cyprus suited the Ford Focus very well and McRae was immediately on the pace. Taking the lead after the first stage and building up a lead throughout the day, things were going well. Cyprus was the slowest round of the championship, but McRae was rocketing through the stages in classic spectacular fashion. All seemed well as the lead grew throughout the second day to almost half a minute. This set up a most remarkable final day. The Focus had suffered quite a bit from the relentless pace McRae was putting it through, but the rugged build kept it going. On the second stage of the final day we were waiting for McRae when suddenly a pick-up truck seemed to appear on the stage. A closer look proofed us wrong, it was in fact McRae’s Focus which had rolled. The rear of the car was crushed giving it a pick-up truck shape. Nonetheless the pace of the car was still remarkably good. The roll had cost him the lead but the Ford mechanics managed to repair the most important bits and pieces of the car and McRae was off again. A storming run through the next stage pro-

Unfortunately we could not recover the Cyprian images from our archive. instead we added some images of Colin in style, flat out in Finland. On the right Colin and Nicky contemplate their misfortune after their Focus caught fire on the final stage of Rally Finland.


Rally-eMag October 2012 / Parisian News 15/19

A Week in Paris Part 1 The final week of September boasted two very important Parisian events, the Paris Motor Show and the meeting of the World Motor Sport Counsil. Lots of WRC news was announced, here’s what we learned from that week.

Hyundai Returns to WRC Just before the media days of the famous Salon Mondiale de l’Automobile de Paris the first picture appeared on Twitter, Facebook and other social media. It was a photo of a Hyundai i20 in rally livery. Immediately rumours started to spread. “This is Hyundai’s new WRC!” Serious media were a bit more sceptic. “This is just a study model,” they said. But during a press conference Marketing Manager Mark Hall of Hyundai Europe explained the manufacturer’s intention to really participate in WRC. “Competition in this championship offers a technical challenge to every car manufacturer and thus it helps development of future models.”

Hyundai’s WRC history Rally-eMag dug deep down into its archives and found photo’s of former Hyundai’s. In 1998 the company started its WRC involvement in a Hyundai Coupe in the F2 class. We found a photo of this car in the 1999 Finland Rally. That year the team was second in the F2 championship with Kenneth Eriksson and Allister McRae. It was also the year they informed the world they would bring the Accent to the ‘real’ WRC. For three years they tried to mingle with far more experienced WRC teams like Ford, Mitsubishi and Subaru to just mention a few. It was not a big surprise they had trouble to equal these teams. Experienced drivers like Eriksson and McRae and later Armin Schwarz and Freddy Loix couldn’t change that fact. Even Juha Kankkunen who competed in a Hyuandai for ten rally’s, could not help when he was in the car. At the end of the 2003 season the team simply disappeared from the charts. The cooperation with MSD, the British firm that ran the Hyundai World Rally Team, was ended somewhat inelegantly and Hyundai left the WRC. Image: Hyundai Pers


Rally-eMag October 2012 / Parisian News 16/19

Future The future for the team looks better. First of all they now have their own team operating from Germany. Also from the shear number of teams there is simply less competition. And they excellently timed their re-entry at the same moment that the FIA seems to get back their hold on the championship. Clear and unclear These days it seems appropriate to announce news in portions. Hyundai did that as did Citroën and the FIA so we end each news item with the news and the questions that are still open. Clear is that Hyundai will compete in the WRC. When it will start is not. A limited programme may be a fair bet. As from the driver’s side nothing is clear yet. Let’s hope they will enter soon as the i20 is a very nice addition to the likes of DS3, Fiësta and Polo! If Toyota also decides to come back it would be very good for WRC, not like in the old days when we had 7 makes but still. In 1999 seven different makes competed for the crown. The whole crew gathered here in Finland. Sadly, two of these top drivers are no longer among us. From left to right: Mitsubishi with Freddy Loix and Tommi Makinen, Skoda with Emil Triner and Armin Schwarz, Subaru with Juha Kankkunen and Richard Burns, Peugeot with Marcus Gronholm and Francois Delecoer, Seat with Oriol Gomez and Harri Rovenpera, Ford with Thomas Radstrom and Colin McRae, Toyota with Didier Auriol and Carlos Sainz.

Hyundai enjoyed mixed success in the past. The Coupe (above) did very well and nearly won the 2WD title in the hands of Kenneth Eriksson and Alister McRae. The Accent (below) was never really a contender and retired from the WRC after a few years.


Rally-eMag October 2012 / Parisian News

A Week in Paris Part 2

Loeb steps back, Abu Dhabi moves in Citroën The French carmaker and wholesaler in WRC titles also had a widely anticipated press conference in Paris. This time the news was not a complete surprise (as in the case of Hyundai) but still it struck like a bombshell. Sebastien Loeb the absolute ruler in WRC since nine years now, is not going to pursue his tenth title (assuming he will gain his ninth title this year). He will not leave Citroën, he will not even leave the WRC but he will leave full time involvement in the series.

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We will be seeing a lot less action like this from Grand Master Loeb.

Khaled Al-Qassimi will be displaying his spectacular skill for Citroën from now on.

New sponsor But that was not all Citroën had to tell us. For the survival of the team the first announcement during the conference was perhaps even more important. At this moment we are experiencing tough economic times, that includes Citroën. Thier parent company PSA has to reorganize which will cause amongst others that quite a lot of people will lose their jobs. Although the costs to run a rallyteam are small in comparison to running a big company like PSA, it is hard to keep on spending money on something that is generally considered not to be essential to the company. Still Citroën has taken the view it wants to be to remain involved in motorsport. But at the same time it was equally impor-

tant for them to find a way of reducing PSA’s financial commitment to the team’s operating costs. And they’ve been successful as they have been able to catch Abu Dhabi. Formerly involved in Ford’s WRC efforts and now back in WRC with Citroën “We are very proud to welcome Abu Dhabi on board,” commented teamprincipal Yves Matton, This enables us to continue our programme and enter three DS3 WRCs in 2013.” Later on Mikko Hirvonen was introduced as Citroën’s lead driver. So now the French team has a complete former Ford line-up because as third driver the United Arab Emirates driver Khaleed Al- Qassimi was announced. They won’t be happy at Ford, Citroën took over their former sponsor, first driver and a valued customer! Clear and unclear Loeb will compete in four rally’s, starting in Monte Carlo, the press release says. So that is clear, he will start in the Monte. But the other ones? He could continue with Sweden, and the two next rally’s, win them and then think: “Hmmm I might win my 10th Championship, let’s continue…” Then the second driver, (Al- Qassimi being the third one), no word on that. We guess we just have to be patient…


Rally-eMag October 2012 / Parisian News 18/19

A Week in Paris Part 3 World Motor Sport Council This last week of September also brought us the news of the WMSC. Most important was the fact that finally a promoter was found. Officially this means that the WMSC allows the FIA to proceed with the negotiation of an agreement with The Sportsman Media Group and Red Bull Media House to become the new global promoter of the FIA World Rally Championship starting in 2013. Thus these two companies will be responsible for investment and development for the WRC. Important points will be increasing its profile, reputation and commercial value. The promoter will cooperate closely with the FIA. Especially they will try to introduce live television and also they will adopt an ‘innovative digital media strategy’ in the next years. The combination of the two companies seems a good one. Sportsman Media Group from Germany has a vast knowledge of sports marketing as they are, for example, the promoter of the German ‘Bundesliga’, (the German soccer competition). They specialize in advising commercial right holders (As the FIA for WRC). Red Bull Media (NOT the same as Red Bull, the company that produces the famous energy drink.) is the affiliated company that specializes in all kinds of media coverage. They operate websites, radio- and television stations, and know everything about producing content for these media. A strong couple we would say.

The calendar The 2013 calendar has also been confirmed: The stated date is the final Sunday of the event. It is up to the organizers to fix the starting day. Also in at least one case (Finland) the Saturday before the Sunday is the final day. 20-01 Rallye Monte Carlo 10-02 Rally Sweden 10-03 Rally Mexico 14-04 Rallye de Portugal 05-05 Rally Argentina 02-06 Acropolis Rally 23-06 Rally d’Italia 04-08 Rally Finland TBC Rallye Deutschland 15-09 Rally Australia 06-10 Rallye de France 27-10 Rally de España 17-11 Rally of Great Britain In total not much news, apart from the fact that Australia is back on the calendar in 2013 and that Rally Wales GB is again the season’s finale. Rule changes In future issues of Rally-eMag we will keep you posted on all rule changes. We now give you the most important ones. Gravel cars. Each crew driving a WRC car is now permitted to use gravel cars in all events (so including asphalt events). Therefore gravel

New promotor, new calendar, new rules cars are now called route note cars. This rule has been introduced for safety reasons therefore it starts right away. This means that we will see this route note car for the first time during Rally de France in early October of this year. Non European events The FIA has been trying for a long time to reduce costs in order to attract more teams to compete. That is the reason why WRC teams competing in the 2013 FIA World Rally Championship now have to compete in one non-European event only. But they must still nominate and take part in a minimum of seven events. Support championships In 2013, the current S2000 Championship (SWRC) will make way for the WRC-2 Championship including cars with fourwheel drive (R5, R4 and S2000). A specific cup for cars in the Group N category will also form part of the FIA WRC-2 Championship, and titles for teams, drivers and codrivers will be awarded to those who have scored the most points in six of the seven events in which they have taken part. The current Production Car World Rally Championship (PWRC) will be replaced by the FIA WRC-3 Championship. The WRC3 includes Group R cars with two-wheel drive (R3, R2 and R1). Titles for teams, drivers and co-drivers will be awarded to those who have scored the most points in five

of the six events in which they have taken part. The current FIA WRC Academy will be renamed the FIA Junior WRC Championship. So this brings us back to the old name. FIA Junior WRC Championship is much clearer than the current name as it clearly indicates it is a championship and not an educational institution as quite a few sponsor seemed to think. From a competition point of view we can see the importance of these new championships. For the general public it will be hard to understand what all these championships really mean. Possibly with the exception of the junior championship. Clear and not clear, It is now clear we have a new promoter for the next ten years, It is however unclear what the terms of the contract are. So we still don’t know who is responsible for what. Who for example eventually decides what the calendar will look like? We hope FIA will be a bit clearer on this aspect in the not too distant future. As far as the calendar is concerned, there also seems to be a problem. The original date for Germany was 25 August. But that is the same date for Spa F1 which geographically is only a stone’s throw away. This means the WRC Germany date still is TBC (to be confirmed.)


Next issue early November covering: Rallye de France-Alsace and Rally d’Italia Sardegna.

Image: Hyundai Pers

Words: Steven van Veenendaal; Harry van Veenendaal Images: Steven van Veenendaal; Harry van Veenendaal& PR (credited where used) Copyright: Rally-eMag; Please drop your comments at info@rally-emag.com!


Rally-eMag 002 October 2012