Issue 5, January 2013
Whoâ€™s who in 2013?
Rally-eMag January 2013 / Colofon 2/20
Here we go again! Just a few days after the release of this issue of RallyeMag the World Rally Championship will kick off another season with the illustrious Rallye Automobile Monte Carlo. The principality has hosted the opening round of the championship for many years and after a three year gap returned to the WRC calendar last year. Where FIA principle Jean Todt asked for events with their own character, the Automobile Club de Monaco duly delivered. The event spans a total of five days and will include stages in the Ardeche and the Maritime Alps. Celebrities like Sisteron and the Col du Turini (yes, these stages qualify as celebrities in my humble opinion) will be on the schedule as well. All in all the Monte is returning more and more to a format of the past with long road sections, few stages on a day and many days of competition. Though it does not make any sense from a rational perspective, the lover of the sport inside me can’t help but love it. It just sounds so good to have a rally that puts a bit of adventure and survival back in the frame. Perhaps my opinion will change after spending six days (shakedown included) in the cold, you’ll find out next month! Meanwhile we have so much to look forward to this year. Despite Ford withdrawing as a title sponsor there are still plenty of Fiesta’s enrolled, with talented young guns behind the wheel. However the one thing everybody will be watching is of course Volkswagen. The Germans announced their commitment to the sport almost a year and half ago and are now finally here. After a massive test period which included a full season with S2000 Fabia’s they now finally deem themselves ready to step unto the main stage. All starts are difficult, but after such preparation they should be fine. Right? Let’s find out. Buckle up for a new action-packed season of rally action with a new champ at the end of it all! Enjoy reading! Steven van Veenendaal Editor
In this month’s issue... Rallies Teams and - An introduction to the ralDrivers - All the teams and drivers for 2013. Page 3
lies of the first half of the 2013 WRC. Page 14
News - New classes - New promotor/tv deals. Page 19
It’s almost time for these signs again, roads closed due to rallying! Image: Harry van Veenendaal Cover images: Citroën Racing, Volkswagen Motorsport and M-Sport
Who made it? Publisher: Rally-eMag Words: Steven van Veenendaal, Harry van Veenendaal. Images: Steven van Veenendaal, Harry van Veenendaal (unless credit otherwise)
Who we thank!
How to reach us?
Logo design: Minse Blom
PR Photography from: M-Sport, Citroen Racing, Volkswagen Motorsport.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: www.rally-emag.com Facebook: www.facebook.com/ emagrally Twitter: @emagrally Issuu: www.issuu.com/rally-emag
Citroën / Teams and Drivers 3/20
Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team
The Citroën team has been split in two for 2013 and now consists of the ‘Citroen Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team’ and the ‘Abu Dhabi Citroen Total World Rally Team’. A slightly confusing choice of names, which translates further in the driver line-ups. Who will drive where for which team is not exactly crystal clear at the moment. What is clear though, is that they have an excellent line-up for 2013. Hirvonen and Sordo will be both fast and consistent, Loeb will be on target for victory on those events he decides to compete in and Al-Qassimi will be entertaining the crowds with his ever sideways driving style. All in all, even without Loeb as their frontman, Citroën will remain the team to beat.
Image: Citroën Racing
Citroën / Teams and Drivers
Over the last five years Mikko Hirvonen has claimed the runner-up spot in the WRC four times. The Fin took over as lead driver for Ford when Marcus Grönholm retired. While many expected him to falter under the pressure of being the go-to-guy on one of the biggest teams in the sport, Hirvonen kept his cool. Before the start of last season the Ford team was already in heavy weather and could not guarantee Hirvonen a whole lot contractwise. He decided to switch teams to Citroën where he had to replace the highly talented Ogier and play a support role to the great Loeb. In this situation, Hirvonen followed his own path again, settling in and not forcing the issue. He did not try like a maniac to beat
Loeb in his final season, he just looked to find his rhythm in the car and sure enough, near the end of the year, his first victory for ‘The Red Army’ came in Sardinia. Hirvonen might be the coolest guy out there in the WRC. Pressure rarely gets to him; he just drives at his own pace and rarely makes mistakes. This überconsistent driving has brought him four runner-up spots in the championship so far. With Loeb out of the way, 2013 should be Hirvonen’s year to shine.
Sebastien Loeb From France Born 26-02-1974 First WRC Event Spain 1999 Starts 163 Wins 76 Podiums 113 Titles 9 (04, 05, 06, 07, 08, 09, 10, 11, 12) Best rally result 1st (76 times) Best championship result 1st (04, 05, 06, 07, 08, 09, 10, 11, 12)
Mikko Hirvonen From Finland Born 31-07-1980 First WRC Event Finland 2002 Starts 132 Wins 15 Podiums 61 Titles 0 Best rally result 1st (15 times) Best championship result 2nd (08, 09, 11, 12)
Loeb is one of those few superstars who actually retire on the pinnacle of his career. After clinching his ninth WRC title in succession Loeb announced he would not participate in the full 2013 WRC season. Other challenges in the WTCC and his own sports car team await him next year. Like an addiction though, it is hard to go cold turkey and say goodbye to rallying for good. So Loeb signed up for four events in 2013.
He will start the season as usual in Monte Carlo and then do Sweden as well. After that Argentina and France are most likely to be on the program. It will be an entirely different experience for Loeb to be driving these events without the pres-
sure of having to score championship points. He will have the opportunity to just drive for fun and wins. This is something the Frenchman is already looking forward to, mainly in Sweden of which he said it would be great to do the event once without the caution of having the finish for the championship. Rumors are abundant that if Loeb would go on to win the first two rounds he might actually continue the championship to pursue his tenth crown. We deem that unlikely but don’t rule it out entirely either. It is hard for greats to really quit the sport that brought them so much success. Just look at the likes of Michael Schumacher and Michael Jordan, let’s see how long Seb manages without the thrills of the WRC…
Citroën / Teams and Drivers
Despite his obvious talent Dani Sordo has struggled to remain in the WRC. After winning the JWRC in 2005 the amicable Spaniard looked set for a career with the big boys. His one problem though, having Sebastien Loeb as his teammate. Though fast, Sordo was of course not immediately on the same level as his illustrious teammate and on those occasions where he was actually able to challenge Loeb, he was often faced with team orders forcing him to slow down in favor of Loeb (and his WRC title chase).
the WRC loomed for Sordo. However when Ford needed a replacement for Latvala in Argentina, Sordo showed his potential again. He did that by driving a new car again towards a podium position, before technical issues forced him down the order. In 2012 the Mini showed obvious signs of a lack of development and experience. The team only ran selected events making it all the more difficult for Sordo to score some impressive results. On the final rally of the season in Sordo’s native Spain however he tried once more to showcase his talent, setting a string of fastest times on the tarmac stages. It After being ejected from the Citroën team Sordo was enough to earn him a contract with the Citfound a new home with Mini. His talent clearly roën squad for 2013. The events Sordo will run showed here as he was taking the fight to the are as yet unconfirmed but look out for this man established teams in the brand new car. Finan- to finally proof his worth on the world stage and cial woes hampered the team’s progress howclaim his maiden WRC victory. ever and as time moved on, a silent exit from
Sheikh Khaled Al-Qassimi From United Arab Emirates Born 18-02-1972 First WRC Event Greece 2004 Starts 45 Wins 0 Podiums 0 Titles 0 Best rally result 5th (Australia 2011) Best championship result 12th (09, 10)
Image: Citroën Racing
Finally the man without whom there might not have been a Citroën team at all in the 2013 WRC. Sheikh Khaled Al-Qassimi is the chairman of the board of Abu Dhabi Racing. The company is responsible for bolstering the emirate’s presence in global motorsport. From this company the majority of the funding of the Citroën teams stems.
Dani Sordo From Spain Born 02-05-1983 First WRC Event Spain 2003 Starts 90 Wins 0 Podiums 31 Titles 0 Best rally result 2nd (19 times) Best championship result 3rd (08, 09)
By now the UAE’er has finished in the points on various rallies and made a name for himself as one of the most spectacular drivers out there. This makes him the perfect ambassador for the sport in his country (ok, his good looks and smooth talk don’t hurt either!) This ambassadorship is one of his most important tasks in the championship as Abu Dhabi racing is also very keen on developing rally talent from Don’t think he is only there because of the the Arab region. Apart from the WRC teams, money though. Al-Qassimi learned the craft of the deal with Citroën also includes a program rallying by starting at the bottom and driving his for young talented drivers. Two young Emirati way up through various cars and local chamdrivers were selected, Mohammed Al Mutawaa pionships before embarking on a global camand Mohammed Al Ali, to drive in the 2013 paign. In the early zeroes Al-Qassimi began MERC in Citroën DS3 R3’s. competing in group N cars in the Middle East Rally Championship (MERC) before switching to Ford to compete on WRC level.
M-Sport / Teams and Drivers 6/20
Qatar M-Sport World Rally Team After considerable discussions between M-Sport boss Malcolm Wilson and the FIA It now seems to be
official that M-Sport can qualify as one of the three manufacturers in the WRC. Malcolm Wilson’s company has prepared the Fords for the WRC for nearly twenty years now and is one of the two reasons we will still see Fords out on the stages in 2013. The other reason
being the State of Qatar. The oilrich peninsula in the Persian Gulf is steadily building on a sporting tradition and their commitment to the WRC is continuing with Ford this year in the form of two teams, the ‘Qatar M-Sport World Rally Team and the ‘Qatar World Rally Team’. The team has seen a large shift in its drivers though. Hirvonen had already left for Citroën last year and both Latvala and Solberg left at the end of this season. Qatar has shown an interest in providing young drivers with opportunities, just ask Thierry Neuville and Hans Weijs jr. With four cars available a lot of new talent had to be attracted, and boy did they draw some talent!
M-Sport / Teams and Drivers
After a very impressive season last year Mads Østberg got the promotion he very much deserved to a full season for a factory team. The young Norwegian started his WRC career at the age of nineteen, by jumping in at the deep end, immediately in a WRC spec car. He scored his first points in 2007 and continued doing so the following years. While his Impreza kept aging, his pace kept improving. He completed his first full program in 2011, also landing his first podium finishes.
Last year however was his real breakthrough year. In Portugal Østberg could take his first win, though it took the disqualification of Mikko Hirvonen for him to do so. The search for a second win has so far remained fruitless but he did finish in
the top five of all rallies he competed in in 2012. Eventually he finished fourth overall in the championship just behind Jari Matti Latvala, the leading driver of the official Ford team who only managed to secure third on the very last rally of the championship. If you look at the trend of Østberg’s results throughout the years 2013 might be very successful indeed. Østberg has improved himself each year so far and it is probably his relaxed attitude that has enabled him to do so. Consistency is the key to winning championships but also something very rarely seen in young drivers. This is where Østberg shows his real differentiating capabilities. Since Greece last year, Østberg has always finished either fourth or fifth, that is consistency for you, right there. Now if he can up his pace one or two spots this year, he will actually be challenging for the title right until the end.
Mads Ostberg From Norway Born 11-11-1987 First WRC Event Sweden 2006 Starts 44 Wins 1 Podiums 5 Titles 0 Best rally result 1st (Portugal 2012) Best championship result 4th (2012)
Malcolm Wilson and Mads Ostberg unveiled the new livery at the Autosport show. Image: M-Sport Image: M-Sport
M-Sport / Teams and Drivers
Evgeny Novikov From Russia Born 19-09-1990 First WRC Event Wales 2007 Starts 30 Wins 0 Podiums 2 Titles 0 Best rally result 2nd (Portugal and Italy 2012) Best championship result 6th (2012)
M-Sport brings some balance into the squad by adding Novikov. Something to balance out the reliability of Østberg that is. Novikov is turning into the Colin McRae of his age. The young Russian is mindblowingly fast at times, but also often picking fights with trees, walls, ditches and the like. Not to say Novikov isn’t a welcome addition to the sport though. The footage of Novikov nearly backflipping his Citroën C4 WRC in
Juho Hänninen From Finland Born 25-07-1981 First WRC Event Sweden 2006 Starts 33 Wins 0 Podiums 0 Titles 0 Best rally result 8th (5 times) Best championship result 16th (2011)
2009 on the famous Urria jump in Finland went viral online shooting the youngster into stardom. The addition of Ilka Minor as his co-driver seems to have taken of the edge slightly. Perhaps a soothing female voice calms him down a bit. His results have improved as a consequence. During the final four rallies of the season Novikov finished in the top ten with a second place on Sardinia as his best result.
A man to watch this year will be Juho Hänninen. The Fin has amassed a fair dose of experience and is now finally making the step to the WRC. His first WRC start came over six years ago in 2006 after which he went on to pursue the PWRC title in the following two years, coming very close in 2008 when he finished second overall. He was rewarded with a contract at Skoda for whom he competed mainly in the IRC. In 2010 his championship-streak kicked off when he took the IRC title. A year later he was the best
in the SWRC and last year he managed to add the ERC title to the collection as well. So a very well decorated man then, having won just about everything there is to win, except the WRC. That chance will come this year as Hänninen gets a seat in the Qatar World Rally Team. The Ford Fiesta might not be a truly factory supported car anymore, but has proven it has the pace to win. Hänninen himself might be a bit old to bust on the scene, but he too has proven he has the pace to win. It might just be a very effective combination.
M-Sport / Teams and Drivers 9/20
Thierry Neuville From Belgium Born 16-06-1988 First WRC Event Finland 2008 Starts 18 Wins 0 Podiums 0 Titles 0 Best rally result 5th (Argentina and New Zealand 2012) Best championship result 7th (2012)
Thierry Neuville caused quite a shock when he announced to be joining the Qatar World Rally Team. Especially amongst his previous employers at Citroën who were, to say the least, not amused. Last year Thierry the French had given the chance to drive a full program in a DS3 and despite a rocky start to the season; he was quickly becoming a force to be reckoned with. Some strong performances landed him three top-five finishes. Although still a bit impetuous at times his
Nasser Al-Attiyah is an incredibly versatile man and has claimed numerous sporting successes both on and off the stages. His first title came in 2006 when he was crowned PWRC champion. Rather than sticking to a success formula, Al-Attiyah looked beyond rallying and found rally raids to be quite enjoyable as well. While still running regular rallies as well, the man from the desert found racing through deserts to suit him quite well. In 2008 he took the FIA Cross Country Rally World Cup title, a forebode to his future success in the most infamous rally of
pace is definitely right up there, testament to his 11 stage wins so far. An upward trend then, not surprising that Citroën was not happy to see their young growth diamond leave the team. Then again, that’s life in the world of professional sports. Neuville already had a good relationship with Qatar who provided sponsorship for his run in New Zealand last year so the move is not all that surprising come to think of it. Qatar is building a team of talented young drivers and Neuville definitely fits the bill.
them all, the Dakar. It took him three tries (he was disqualified in 2009 and finished second to Carlos Sainz in 2010) but in 2011 he was the first Arab ever to win the prestigious Dakar rally. Last year was his first at WRC level and we saw him score five top ten results out of six finishes. Al-Attiyah had to miss the rallies of New Zealand and Finland though due to his commitments at the Olympic Games in London. Besides rallying, Al-Attiyah also is excellent shooter and he managed to take a bronze medal at the Games. Versatility anyone?
Nasser Al-Attiyah From Qatar Born 21-12-1970 First WRC Event Sweden 2004 Starts 54 Wins 0 Podiums 0 Titles 0 Best rally result 4th (Portugal 2012) Best championship result 12th (2012)
Volkswagen / Teams and Drivers 10/20
Volkswagen Motorsport It might just be that Volkswagen has already broken some records. When was the last time a new entrant to the WRC actually ran the entire championship the year in advance with a slightly lower spec car just to learn about the logistics involved in running a WRC team? When did a new team sign a top-notch driver a year in advance and have him run in a lower class, right after his breakthrough season? Probably not that many. Yet it is exactly what they did at Volkswagen. The Germans are notorious for being “gründlich” and they sure have been that in their preparation. Oh and to top things off, they signed Jari Matti Latvala to complete the line-up.
Image: Volkswagen Motorsport
Volkswagen / Teams and Drivers
Sebastien Ogier From France Born 17-12-1983 First WRC Event Mexico 2008 Starts 46 Wins 7 Podiums 14 Titles 0 Best rally result 1st (7 times) Best championship result 3rd (2011)
If there ever was a hungry man, Ogier was it. His insanely competitive spirit got him to say that he would be the one that would dethrone Sebastien Loeb just after he made the step to Citroën’s junior team. Some may have chuckled at these remarks, but they just might have become a reality if Ogier had stuck around for another year at Citroën. In 2011 he challenged Loeb on nearly every rally and took just as many wins throughout the season. Of course Loeb’s consistency brought him the title in the end but Ogier’s claim was obvious. Ogier is the kind of guy who always speaks his mind, so when his team asked him to hold back to enable Loeb to take a win, Ogier would comply, but not be very good
The signing of Latvala by VW was not the biggest surprise of the year, but still raised some heads when it did materialize. The Ogier/Latvala combo just sounds menacing. Most of those who regularly follow the WRC will admit that when it comes to raw speed, Latvala is probably the fastest out there, with Ogier right behind him. When it comes to consistency it’s a different matter all together but over the years Latvala has matured and can be expected to add consistency to his speed.
Last year was difficult for Latvala as he was promoted to lead driver of the Ford team due to Hirvonen’s departure to Citroën. The season started of badly de-
in hiding his anger about it. Eventually the marriage between Citroën and Ogier came to an end when Ogier left for VW after 2011. A remarkable move as Ogier really had his breakthrough year in 2011 and VW could only offer him a drive in a Skoda Fabia S2000 for the entire season. It took some time for Ogier to accept that he could not challenge the front-runners with this car but still he did some amazing things. In the Monte Carlo rally he ran in the top five while near the end of the year he did the impossible by actually winning a stage in Italy. Now it’s time for Ogier to finally be let loose in a WRC again. If he can keep his cool and the car on the road, he is certainly one of the most important title contenders.
spite winning in Sweden as he retired in both Monte Carlo and Mexico, finished way down the order in Portugal and was not even able to compete in Argentina due to an injury. After that however, Latvala regained his former swag and went on to finish on the podium on six of the remaining eight rounds, enough to land him third overall in the championship.
Jari Matti Latvala From Finland Born 03-04-1985 First WRC Event Wales 2002 Starts 105 Wins 7 Podiums 32 Titles 0 Best rally result 1st (7 times) Best championship result 2nd (2010)
On this high confidence Latvala now joins the ranks of Volkswagen and has already had his first incident when he crashed into another car on the road during tests in Mexico (not his fault by the way). If he can limit the incidents and keep his pace up, Latvala will be chalImage: Volkswagen Motorsport
Volkswagen / Teams and Drivers 12/20
Andreas Mikkelsen From France Born 17-12-1983 First WRC Event Mexico 2008 Starts 46 Wins 7 Podiums 14 Titles 0 Best rally result 1st (7 times) Best championship result 3rd (2011)
The final addition to the VW line-up was Andreas Mikkelsen. The young Norwegian will not do the entire WRC as his first rally will be the fourth round of the championship in Portugal. From then on he will drive all rallies in a third Polo R WRC. Mikkelsen has always been regarded as one of the biggest talents in the sport, being the youngest driver ever to score a WRC point, he did so when he was just 18 in his native Norway. Af-
ter various WRC outings he switched to the IRC, which he managed to win for the last two years. Now itâ€™s back to the WRC and with highly talented teammates like Ogier and Latvala, Mikkelsen will have a good fight on his hands. Not that he is not up for it though, last year saw Ogier and Mikkelsen having some good fights in the Skoda Fabia. If Mikkelsen can stay as close in the Polo, he will be having a good run this year. portant title contenders.
Images (except Mikkelsen portrait): Volkswagen Motorsport
Non-works teams / Teams and Drivers
Michal Kosciuszko From Poland Born 20-04-1985 First WRC Event Sweden 2006 Starts 39 Wins 0 Podiums 0 Titles 0 Best rally result 7th (Australia 2011) Best championship result 21st (2011)
The sole Mini John Cooper Works WRC will be run by the Lotos team this year. Thankfully the Polish squad decided to do the WRC in the car or it would have vanished from the world stage already. Now despite the lack of factory funding, we will still be able to hear that typical engine rumble as the car is powered down the stages in the capable hands of Michal Kosziuszcko.
Last year was Prokopâ€™s first at the highest level of rallying and despite a solid stretch of runs in Portugal, Argentina and Greece, it was not quite what he expected from it.
It will be the first full WRC season for Kosziuszcko after impressing in the JWRC (second in 2009) and PWRC (third in 2011, second in 2012). Kosziuszcko was especially impressive on tarmac last year as he won the PWRC in Monte Carlo and Germany. With Monte Carlo coming up first, Kosziuszko will be able to kick off his challenge in a new car on familiar soil.
the points on all rallies apart from the Rally of Spain, he was still slightly disappointed at the end of the season and vowed to do better next year. We believe that is quite a good attitude to have after your WRC debut season. Never During those three rallies Prokop managed to be satisfied, always look to push further. It will finish in the top five three times in a row but dur- be interesting to see how far Prokop can push ing the rest of the season he could usually only himself this year. be found around the ninth place. Not the results the ambitious Czech was looking for.
In 2009 he won the JWRC crown and finished runner-up in the PWRC title race. After those successes he went on to finish third in the SWRC for two consecutive years. The time seemed right to move another step up. Though Prokop managed to finish all rallies he entered except for the Rally of Germany and finished in
Martin Prokop From Czech Republic Born 04-10-1982 First WRC Event Monte Carlo 2005 Starts 67 Wins 0 Podiums 0 Titles 0 Best rally result 4th (Argentina 2012) Best championship result 9th (2012)
Monte Carlo / Rallies
The 2013 WRC season Just a short time after this magazine hits your mailbox the 2013 WRC season will take off. It will be an exciting season with lots of changes compared to 2012. But the line-up for the actual rally’s did not change that much. We now will lead you through the 7 events starting from the (hopefully) snow-covered roads of
southern France where Rallye Monte Carlo will take place to the island of Sardinia where the halfway summer stop starts. In a later edition we will bring you all the details from the jumps of Finland all the way to the Welsh forests of Wales Rally GB where we come back for the season finale again
15-19 January: 81st Rallye Automobile Monte Carlo We begin the season in the French provincial town of Valence. For arguably the most famous rally of them all: The Rallye Monte Carlo. On Tuesday the 15th of January at 08:00 in the morning the competitors will tackle the 3,58 km long shakedown stage at the Plateau de Lautagne just south of Valence. But the official beginning of the season will take place at he Champs de Mars in the centre of Valence when Sebastien Loeb starts his (truncated) season. No less than 84 cars including 13 World Rally Cars will follow him.
Itinerary The next (Wednesday!) morning they will start the rally in a completely different format in comparison to the other WRC events. The first leg takes the drivers west of Valence to the (in-) famous stages called Le Moulinon and Burzet. They will tackle both stages twice and at around 16:00 the survivors will be back in Valence with just over 135 kilometres behind their wheels. On Thursday they continue their journey, this time to the northwest of Valence where they will meet the stages of Labatie d’Andaure; St Bonnet and Lamastre. These stages too will be covered twice and at the end of Thursday they will have covered another 130 kilometres. To finish their tour of the Ardeche region they will go north-
east to pass the St Jean en Royans test on Friday, on their way to Monte Carlo. Between St Jean and Monte Carlo they find two more stages at St Nazaire and Sisteron. Their day total as far stages are concerned reaches 92 km’s. The road sections for Friday however will be some 450 kilometres. Then towards the end of this day the cars will finally reach Monte Carlo. On the final (Satur-) day the surviving teams will not leave Monte Carlo before one in the afternoon. Then they will start the final leg of five stages, including three passes over the ‘special stage of all special stages’ the Col de Turini, formally known as Moulinet – La Bollène Vésubie. Thousands of fans will be packed on the Turini summit in front of the Hotel des Trois Vallees. The nearby Lantosque – Lucéram stage will be run twice, the second running being the Power stage. Around 22:30 the cars will be back in Monte Carla again. This event is a good start of the season and it is good the rally came back to the WRC after a three-year absence in the series. Though it is both loved and hated by the drivers (often both at the same time) it is still an epic rally that is decided by the weather and consequently by the tyre choice. The long-term weather forecast is mild but that doesn’t mean anything as weather can change overnight during the Monte!
Sweden & Mexico / Rallies 15/20
7-10 February: Rally Sweden
7-10 March: Rally Guanajuato México
Hometown of Rally Sweden is Karlstadt in the middle of the country. Although the actual stages are a bit more to the north there is often discussion about the fact that the rally should be moved more into the north to be certain of snow, ice and extremely low temperatures. The last few years however there has been enough snow and ice to secure the unique character of the event. There are 21, mostly snow covered stages. Since a few years now the Rally Sweden crosses the border to Norway and this year again no less than five stages will be in the neighbouring country. One of these starts in the Swedish border town of Mitandersfors, then crosses the border to finish in Norway. Most of the other stages are situated in a circle around Hagfors where the airfield serves as a service area. Two special stages are situated in Karlstadt. Drivers and
After the wintry conditions in Europe the WRC community travels to México. There are always high temperatures there and together with the high altitude this is quite an issue for the technicians. The engines lose quite a bit of power due to this and it’s a challenge for the technicians to cope with that problem. Although this problem is there for everybody, some manufacturers can cope better then others. Volkswagen for example travelled to Mexico at the end of 2012 just for this reason. They had to find the good settings for this. It was one of the first outings for new recruit Jari Matti Latvala who unfortunately met a civilian driver on the closed road there and had a collision.
fans all like the unique character of Sweden. It is the only rally where you can see the fat WRC’s on very narrow studded winter gravel tyres. Snowbanks are popular because some drivers use them to steer their car in the right direction by just briefly touching them. Other less experienced drivers hate them because a lot of them ended up in such a bank and had to start digging to get their car moving again. The scenery is Christmas card like. Serene white plains with gentle hills and thousands of small campfires where the ever-friendly Swedes offer you a grilled sausage and some homebrewed alcohol. Beware of this last stuff; it tends to be quite strong!
the Guanajuato’s Bicentennial Park, a park that was constructed two years ago in commemoration of two hundred years of independence for the state of Mexico.
The real action however, takes place elsewhere in the Sierra de Lobos and Sierra de Guanajuato mountains, famous for the sandy surface but unfortunately the tracks are strewn with rocks that previous competitors pulled out of the roads, flat tyres or worse are quite normal in these circumstances. At the end of the rally the surviving competitors have covered 23 stages over just under four hundred kilometres. The rally is based in Leon in the This year again this includes the western part of Mexico. A very exciting special stage is situated longest stage of the rally the The Guanajuatito stage that is no in the city of Guanajuato, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In the less than 54.85 kilometres long. heart of this little town a vey short This stage was included after FIA president Jean Todt had asked route of just over one kilometre takes the drivers through tunnels organisers to include more demanding stages in their rally’s. and cobbled streets lined high So In Mexico they simply glued walls. Many a driver can tell you two stages together to this monall about it as they touched one of the walls, either in the tunnels ster stage. The competitive distance over the 23 stages of this or along the streets. This year a event will be just under 400 (397) second stage of 2.5 kilometres kilometres. will be tackled here. This time in
Portugal & Argentina / Rallies 16/20
11-14 April: Vodafone Rally de Portugal
1-4 May: Rally Argentina
A month later we’re back in Europe again. This time it’s Portugal where the local people are crazy about their rally. They used to express this by standing on the road and leaving it only seconds before the cars passed them. This however cannot be done anymore in modern rallying. So Portugal was banned for several years. But since a few years WRC is back again. Usually there is some nice sunshine in the early spring, but last year heavy rains changed the otherwise dusty roads into complete rivers of mud. There has been quite a lot of discussion about moving the rally into northern direction where the original TAP Rally took place. However this year we are still in the Algarve region where the stages are more or less the same as in previous years. The start of the rally moves to Vilamoura Marina, just like some years ago when the rally had to earn back its place in the WRC.
Last year Argentina was the place where the new rally ideas of people like president Jean Todt and WRC director Michelle Mouton were to be implemented. There should be longer, more demanding stages, to bring back the adventure in rallying. But if we look at the 2013 schedule of the Rally Argentina we don’t see an over 500 kilometres event covering different countries. No we ‘just’ see 407 kilometres over 14 stages all in Argentina.
The superspecial stage in Lisbon is still part of the rally, but this time it will be run on the Friday evening as stage 5. The route stays roughly the same but will run in the opposite direction as in former years. The all asphalt stage is situated near the famous Mosteiro de Jeronimos and will pass roundabouts and roads that normally are used by thousands of tourists having a look at the
monastery or the Ponte 25 de Abril, Lisbon’s equivalent of the Golden Gate bridge. And if you’re going there don’t forget to taste the world famous Pasteis de Belem. The huge shop of the same name where they produce the small sweet pastry is only minutes away from the stage action. An extra attraction is that Volkswagen for the first time will show their full team, as Andreas Mikkelsen will join them in the third car. Also after the gambling match of Monte Carlo or the snow covered roads of Sweden and the exceptional altitude of Mexico this is the first ‘normal’ gravel rally. So here we will see the true strength of the team. Just like in Mexico, in Portugal they also found a monster stage. It is a combination of the old Ourique and Almodôvar stages. This new Almodôvar stage is 52.3 km long. A bit shorter than the Guanajuatito stage but still one of the longest European stages on gravel. In total, the rally has 15 stages covering 386.7 km of competitive action.
for the typical Argentine stages. These stages are characterized by their sandy nature. This of course increases the risk of flat tyres due to stones pulled up by earlier competitors. The most famous stage El Condor brings the competitors to the moon. At least that is what it looks like. A lunar mobile would not look bad in As usual rally headquarters are these barren surroundings. The based in Villa Carlos Paz close 16 km stage serves as power to the city of Cordoba. The San stage at the end of the rally. It is Roque Lake provides a scenic a good example of the demands backdrop. of FIA to use a ‘real’ stage as The rally start is on Wednesday. power stage, rather than a specThe day starts with the qualifying tator stage in the middle of town. Finland reacted to this idea for session that we know since last year during gravel events. Later the first time last year when they that day competitive action starts used the gruelling 32 kilometre Ouninpohja stage as power on a small spectator stage. On stage. Thursday the rally really starts
Image: Citroën Racing
Acropolis & Sardinia / Rallies 17/20
31 May-3 June: Acropolis Rally Greece
21-23 June: Rally Italia Sardegna
Coming back to Europe again the WRC arrives in the small seaside resort of Loutraki at an hourâ€™s drive of Greek capital Athens. During the rally this village is completely changed into rally city. The hotels and pensions facing the beaches hardly cater for the normal beach goer but provide (very) early breakfasts for all the rally people and serve late night rally menus. Loutraki is centrally located for the stages that are the dark. The first time a night stage on scattered north, east and south over the gravel was introduced in the modern area around the town. WRC was also in Greece. Several drivers still know what it was like going very This is the terrain where Ford used to fast with nearly zero visibility, due to be the strongest team. Rally legend headlights reflecting in the dust banks. Colin McRae felt at home here. This On Friday the rally starts early for a long is proven by the fact he won here five day of more than 12 hours of competitimes. But the Citroen team and espetive action. After Cyprus left the champicially a man called Loeb now also know onship, the Acropolis Rally is generally their way around. considered to be the toughest rally for the drivers but even more so for the The action starts on Thursday first with cars. the qualifying stage not too far from Loutraki. In the afternoon the drivers After eight stages on Saturday and a leave for Athens for the ceremonial start nice Sunday dessert (including an alin the historic centre of the capital. Then most four kilometre Powerstage in the the quest over the infamous twisty, Loutraki area) the surviving competitors bumpy, narrow and rocky stages really will cross the finish ramp of the 2013 starts with a 25 kilometre long stage in edition of the Acropolis Rally.
The first half of the season comes to a close on the Italian island of Sardinia. Every year, since the first edition in 2004, there is discussion whether this island is a good place for a WRC event. Accessibility is reasonably difficult and therefore the number of international spectators is relatively small. The Italians themselves do not compensate this, as traveling from the mainland is also complicated. The local people of the island do come but donâ€™t seem to be that enthusiastic about their WRC event. In the meantime venues like Sicily and several areas on the mainland have been considered but at the end of the day the WRC family comes to Sardinia again. And the competitors donâ€™t argue. It is quite a popular event and testing for example often takes place here. And why not? Being there is not a punishment; the scenery is beautiful, the people are friendly and the food is good. It is not a coincidence that Volkswagen presented its WRC plans on this very island just before the start of the 2011 edition of this rally.
The heart of the rally is concentrated in the bustling harbourtown of Olbia. Luxury liners in pretty colours form the background of the service park and the city itself is just around the corner. The stages are scattered over the island and, although the island is relatively small the distances between the stages and rally HQ in Olbia can be very long. The stages include everything you can wish for in a WRC qualifier. Jumps, water splashes, rough terrain and open plains guarantee a good basis for a very nice event. At this moment the organizers of Rally Italia Sardegna are finalising their preparations so not everything is completely clear yet. But is seems clear that the event will have 16 stages over a relatively small amount of just over 300 kilometres.
The Second Half / Rallies
The second half of the season The second half of the season will continue after a summer stop of about 6 weeks and will start again in Finland. Many of the organizers are still working on their rallies so we decided to wait some time to cover the second half. But don’t you worry we’ll come back with the rest of the season all the way to the season’s finale in Wales, in reasonable time. But in order for you to be able to block the dates in your agenda we do give you the dates for the second half of 2013.
First up after the summer break is Neste Oil Rally Finland. Pictured right Jari Matti Latvala in the white livery Fiesta. Image: Steven van Veenendaal
1-3 August: Neste Oil Rally Finland 23-25 August: ADAC Rallye Deutschland 13-15 September: Rally Australia 4-6 October: Rallye de France-Alsace 25-27 October: Rally RACC-Rallye d’Espana 15-17 November: Wales Rally GB
Rally-eMag January 2013 / News
The new championships
A new timekeeper and a new broadcaster
During the debates of the World Motor- events count for the final classification. sport council (WMSC) last year, several changes were introduced. We start The last change is really a comeback. with the championships. The WRC Academy is now called the Junior World Rallyschanpionship Of course there is the WRC. This is the again. (JWRC) As before it is a one topclass of the championship and uses make championship for junior drivcars that we know already. This year ers. Like last year the Polish outfit of that will be the Citroen DS3 WRC, The M-Sport will build the cars again. And Ford Fiesta RS WRC, the Mini John again it will be Fiesta’s. The British firm Cooper Works WRC and, last but not now makes or is making Fiestas for all least the Volkswagen Polo R WRC. championships.
Although there is still no official announcement about the new promoter of the WRC, every sign shows Red Bull as the new promoter. Meantime there have been two announcements about two very important aspects. Stage One Technology (ST1) does not do timekeeping anymore. The tender for a new timekeeper was won by the Spanish company Sistemas Intégrales de Telecomunicacion (SIT). Starting in Monte Carlo they will provide the technical equipment measuring the times on the stages but also tracking the cars for safety reasons.
Anew class is the WRC2. Mainly these are cars that we know form the former S2000 class. These four-wheel drive cars are from the former S2000 class but also from the new R5 and R4 classes. Each competitor that wants to score points has tot tackle seven rounds Six of these count for the final classification. In this category there is a special class for group n cars. In WRC3 we find the cars that used to drive the Production World Rallychampionship (PWRC) This two wheel drive category includes the somewhat smaller R3, R2 and R1 class. Each competitor has to do 6 events to be eligible for championship points. Five
On first site this change looks a bit complicated but it is a logical step from beginner to the big league. You don’t have to go through all the championships, but you can step in at several levels where competition is vital. Now drivers can challenge their peers rather then trying to fight the big boys. From a PR point od view this is importany because you can tell your patners you’re actualle copeting in a World Rally Championship.
Good news on the television front: the sportsman media group and Red Bull Media House (indicating that they are the official FIA WRC promoter) appointed a new production company the Swiss company Host Broadcast Services (HBS). The WRC, according to the HBS website, is a perfect sport for HBS’ signature mix of technological innovation and high quality production — on-board cameras, aerial coverage and sophisticated microphones are already planned, with additional innovations in the
pipeline. This promises a lot of good as the company already covered quite a few major sport events like several FIFA world (soccer) championships. They will produce both the daily news and a 26-minute highlight show of each rally, as well as a 52-minute show featuring all the highlights of the WRC season. The company will work in close collaboration with its Finnish technical partner Filmworks. The experienced producer Nick Atkins will be responsible for the production of the WRC coverage. So the production side is clear. And that is a lot better than today last year when nothing was clear. Broadcasting the productions however is not clear yet. Negotiations between the promoter and the broadcasters are still taking place at his moment. Regular broadcaster in Europe, Motors TV is still talking about the 2012 championship on its website today, about a week before the start of Monte Carlo…
Next issue mid February covering: Rallye Automobile Monte Carlo and The Swedish Rally. Remember to subscribe to make sure you never miss another issue of Rally-eMag again. There are two ways to subscribe: Tweet â€˜Subscribeâ€™ to us (@emagrally) Mail us with subscribe in the subject at email@example.com
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 firstname.lastname@example.org!