Rally Engeland 2008 04 t/m 07 december 2008

07-12-2008 de einduitslag na dag 3:

Latvala second for Ford in Britain as Hirvonen creates history

BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team drivers Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila finished second on Wales Rally GB today after a titanic final day battle. The Finns led for most of this 15th and final round of the FIA World Rally Championship in their Focus RS World Rally Car. However, their slender lead disappeared during a thrilling final loop of competition that ended with just 12.7sec splitting Ford's rising young star and established master Sébastien Loeb.

Team-mates Mikko Hirvonen and Jarmo Lehtinen finished eighth in their Focus RS WRC and created a slice of history. The single point ensured they became the first drivers ever to score points on every round of the championship. This remarkable achievement added to Ford's record-breaking season. The Blue Oval became the first manufacturer in history to score points on 100 consecutive rounds in Turkey in July and Latvala became the youngest driver to win a WRC round in Sweden in February.

Treacherous conditions in the forests of mid and south Wales made this one of the hardest rallies of the season. Ice and snow forced organisers to cancel much of Friday's opening leg and wintery conditions continued to provide a stern challenge throughout the weekend. The scheduled 348.99km route was reduced to 275.01km as two of the 19 speed tests were cancelled and four others shortened.

Hirvonen spent most of the weekend recovering from a near-four minute time loss after rolling his Focus RS WRC on Friday. The 28-year-old, already assured of second in the championship before the start, climbed back into a points position this morning to seal his place in the record books.

"There was more ice than yesterday and when the sun came up it polished the surface. I had two or three close escapes but that's acceptable in these unpredictable conditions. I want to thank the whole team for helping me to second in the championship. I've had no major mechanical problems this season thanks to such a reliable car and the team has done a fantastic job. To claim this scoring record is a great achievement and I want to move into next year and challenge for the title again. I feel stronger after this season and more ready to fight for the world title again," said Hirvonen.

BP Ford Abu Dhabi team director Malcolm Wilson said: "It was an incredible performance by Jari-Matti against a five-time world champion. He was under severe pressure and he's made a big step in his career path with a performance that is good for his confidence. Mikko recovered well and has enjoyed a fantastic year. It's a great achievement to score points on every rally."

Ford of Europe motorsport director Mark Deans added: "We're disappointed not to win a third consecutive manufacturers' title after taking the battle down to the final round. But the Focus RS WRC proved its ability once more here with five cars in the top 10, and we look forward to renewing our challenge for title again in 2009."

News from our Rivals

Victory for Sébastien Loeb (Citroen), his 11th of the season, and third for team-mate Dani Sordo gave the French squad the manufacturers' title. Petter Solberg (Subaru) claimed fourth while fifth for Per-Gunnar Andersson (Suzuki) equalled his team's best result. Stobart driver François Duval (Ford) claimed sixth after team-mate Henning Solberg retired with broken suspension in the penultimate test.

Final positions
1. S Loeb/D Elena FRA Citroen C4 2hr 43min 09.6sec
2. J-M Latvala/M Anttila FIN Ford Focus RS 2hr 43min 22.3sec
3. D Sordo/M Marti ESP Citroen C4 2hr 44min 30.2sec
4. P Solberg/P Mills NOR Subaru Impreza 2hr 45min 09.2sec
5. P-G Andersson/J Andersson SWE Suzuki SX4 2hr 47min 13.7sec
6. F Duval/D Giraudet BEL Ford Focus RS 2hr 48min 17.4sec
7. T Gardemeister/T Tuominen FIN Suzuki SX4 2hr 48min 34.6sec
8. M Hirvonen/J Lehtinen FIN Ford Focus RS 2hr 48min 48.4sec
9. M Wilson/S Martin GBR Ford Focus RS 2hr 51min 23.5sec
10 B Clark/P Nagle GBR Ford Focus RS 2hr 53min 02.7sec

1. S Loeb - 122pts
2. M Hirvonen - 103pts
3. D Sordo - 65pts
4. J-M Latvala - 58pts
5. C Atkinson  - 50pts
6. P Solberg - 46pts

1. Citroen Total - 191pts
2. BP Ford Abu Dhabi - 173pts
3. Subaru - 98pts
4. Stobart VK M-Sport Ford - 67pts
5. Suzuki - 34pts
6. Munchi's Ford - 22pts

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

Bron: M-Sport

07-12-2008 uitslag na dag 2 - Latvala warms to icy challenge to retain lead in Rally GB,

BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team drivers Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila continue to lead Wales Rally GB after a second day of fighting ice-bound forest tracks. The Finns won two speed tests in the slippery forests of south Wales to overnight with a 7.3sec lead in their Ford Focus RS World Rally Car in this 15th and final round of the FIA World Rally Championship. Team-mates Mikko Hirvonen and Jarmo Lehtinen recovered from yesterday's roll to climb to ninth in another Focus RS.

The treacherous conditions further north that decimated yesterday's schedule eased today. Glorious blue skies encouraged huge crowds, although ice was a constant danger after more freezing temperatures overnight. Drivers tackled two identical loops of three special stages before a spectacular final test inside Cardiff's Millennium Stadium in front of an estimated 25,000 fans.

Latvala was first in the start order and the icy roads of the 30.68km Resolfen test offered a tough challenge as the Finn cut through the frozen gravel to leave better grip for those behind. His overnight 12.9sec lead was cut to just 0.8sec, but Latvala posted fastest time in the following stage and his advantage stood at 8.9sec as drivers returned to Swansea for the midday service. A brush with a barrier at a bridge on an icy section this afternoon resulted in his lead dropping to 2.4sec, but a second fastest time on the final forest stage restored a more comfortable margin.

However, 23-year-old Latvala endured more dramas on the liaison section to the Cardiff stage. "The traffic was very heavy in the centre of the city and we had to keep stopping and starting, using the clutch a lot. It began to smoke and I was worried that if I carried on driving it would be destroyed. So we pushed the car for 400 metres to the time control. It was very stressful," he said. He struggled to leave the line in the stadium stage and dropped more than three seconds.

"I had no chance in the conditions on the first stage this morning because the road was very frosty. The surface was rock hard and every time I hit the throttle the wheels were spinning, so I eased off. Before bends I steered the car towards the side of the road, away from the ice, to brake in the gravel where there was more grip. I'm being pressured by those behind but I really want to win here for the team. However, we've had two tricky days and tomorrow will be just as hard," said Latvala.

Team-mate Hirvonen restarted in 29th and top three times on all three morning stages promoted him to 13th. Fastest time on the long Resolfen stage this afternoon maintained the momentum and lifted him back into a manufacturers' points-scoring position.

"I'm trying to climb as high as I can but the aim is also to stay on the road so I'm not taking risks. There was a lot of ice this morning and it was hard to find a good rhythm. The cars ahead of me polished the ice and it was hard to tell where there was grip and where there wasn't," explained 27-year-old Hirvonen.
"This afternoon was better with less ice, but the tricky part was knowing where it was. I think we all had plenty of luck in avoiding crashing because the ice was so patchy that I just didn't know if I was going to go off the road. I will keep pushing hard tomorrow and try to climb as high up the order as I can," added Hirvonen.
Abu Dhabi's Khalid Al Qassimi and Michael Orr climbed from 21st to 16th in the team's third Focus RS WRC. "Everywhere was icy and I couldn't drive on it comfortably," said Al Qassimi. "I have no experience on this type of surface and I'm struggling to build confidence. That said, I'm still in the rally and I'm in front of some far more experienced drivers than me. If I can keep that going and finish in the top 16, I will be happy," he added.

BP Ford Abu Dhabi team director Malcolm Wilson reflected on a strong performance from both drivers. "Jari-Matti has been confident, despite the pressure of Loeb breathing down his neck. It was difficult for him to be first on the road and it will be difficult again tomorrow. Mikko knows how important a third manufacturers' title would be for us and his enthusiasm to battle back shows how committed he is to the team. Temperatures are forecast to drop to -6ºC tonight so the roads will again be treacherous tomorrow," he said.

News from our Rivals

Sébastien Loeb (Citroen) won two tests as he maintained second place while team-mate Dani Sordo, boosted by two stage wins this morning, completes the top three. Petter Solberg (Subaru) moved ahead of Per-Gunnar Andersson (Suzuki) to hold fourth, with Stobart driver Henning Solberg rounding off the top six. Mads Ostberg (Subaru) looked set to hold onto fifth but the young Norwegian slid into a ditch on the penultimate stage and retired. The day's other major retirement was junior world champion Sébastien Ogier, making his debut at the top level, who rolled into retirement on the opening stage after leading for much of yesterday.

Tomorrow’s Route

The final leg is the shortest of the rally with just 96.10km of competition split between two identical loops of two stages in the Vale of Neath. After leaving Swansea at 07.00, drivers return there for service after the opening loop and then journey to Cardiff for the finish ceremony at 14.56.

Leaderboard after Day 2
1. J-M Latvala/M AnttilaFIN Ford Focus RS 1hr 47min 52.4sec
2. S Loeb/D ElenaFRA Citroen C4 1hr 47min 59.7sec
3. D Sordo/M MartiESP Citroen C4 1hr 48min 20.3sec
4. P Solberg/P Mills NOR Subaru Impreza 1hr 48min 44.9sec
5. P-G Andersson/J Andersson SWESuzuki SX4 1hr 49min 58.5sec
6. H Solberg/C MenkerudNOR Ford Focus RS 1hr 50min 01.7sec
7. F Duval/D Giraudet BELFord Focus RS 1hr 50min 22.0sec
8. T Gardemeister/T Tuominen FINSuzuki SX4 1hr 51min 25.4sec
9. M Hirvonen/J LehtinenFIN Ford Focus RS 1hr 52min 36.9sec
10 M Wilson/S MartinGBR Ford Focus RS 1hr 52min 41.9sec

Bron: M-Sport

Klik hier voor het filmpje van deze crash.

06-12-2008 uitslag na dag 1 - Hirvonen in troubles at first day of Welsh winter wonderland:

Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila overcame savage weather conditions to lead Wales Rally GB following today's opening leg. The BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team pair leads this 15th and final round of the FIA World Rally Championship by 12.9sec in their Focus RS World Rally Car after wintry weather decimated the schedule. Team-mates and fellow Finns Mikko Hirvonen and Jarmo Lehtinen are 29th in another Focus RS WRC after crashing this afternoon.

Following last night's start ceremony next to Cardiff's festive winter wonderland show, competitors discovered winter wasn't quite so wonderful when they entered the remote forests more than 150km north. Snow and ice covered the gravel tracks in many places and organisers last night cancelled more than half today's scheduled 123.68km of competition on safety grounds. More freezing temperatures overnight brought the cancellation of both passes of the already shortened Hafren speed test due to ice.

So the day was reduced to two identical loops of two special stages near Aberystwyth in mid-Wales, before two passes in darkness over a short spectator-friendly test further south. Just 49.70km remained but the weather continued to do its utmost to disrupt proceedings. Ice lurked in exposed areas and the early morning sunshine was replaced by hail. This afternoon lightning preceded torrential rain and few drivers were unhappy to see the back of such treacherous conditions.

Hirvonen completed the opening loop in 11th after a cautious start but rolled in the Sweet Lamb test, losing almost four minutes and dropping to 46th. He recovered to 29th, despite being unable to use full power from his car's engine as mud blocked the radiator after his accident.

"I drove through the famous watersplash near the end of the stage and I knew it would throw the car sideways, but it threw me further than I expected. The car hit a bank and rolled onto its roof. The spectators weren't allowed to help us push the car back onto its wheels and it took us nearly four minutes to get going again," explained 28-year-old Hirvonen.

"Conditions were difficult but maybe I was too steady this morning. While I needed to be cautious, I didn't need to be that cautious. I could see the lines on the road from Sébastien Loeb ahead of me so I followed those and obtained more grip, but it was hard to stop on the ice with gravel tyres. It would have been too dangerous to run the cancelled stages because the grip was changing all the time - from gravel to ice to snow," added Hirvonen.

News from our Rivals

Making the best of the improved conditions further down the start order were inexperienced youngsters Sébastien Ogier (Citroen) and Mads Ostberg (Subaru). This year's junior world champion Ogier, making his debut in a WRC car, led until the second pass through Myherin when he stopped briefly with a gearbox problem and slipped to eighth. Ostberg held second until he spun in the same test and ended the day in fourth. Sébastien Loeb (Citroen) won two stages to climb to second, ahead of Per-Gunnar Andersson (Suzuki). Behind Ostberg, Petter Solberg (Subaru) and Dani Sordo (Citroen) rounded off the top six. Stobart driver François Duval (Ford) lost 20sec after spinning on stage six, but the Belgian holds seventh, while team-mate Henning Solberg (Ford) had differential problems this morning and is ninth. The only major retirement was Chris Atkinson (Subaru) who crashed on the penultimate test and his car briefly caught fire.

Tomorrow's Route

The second day covers familiar territory. Drivers face two identical loops of three forest tests before the traditional Saturday evening stage over a slightly modified route inside Cardiff's Millennium Stadium. Each loop begins with the classic Resolfen test near Swansea before two more stages further north, near Brecon. After a 07.15 restart, drivers face 129.21km of competition before returning to Swansea for the final overnight halt at 20.18.

Leaderboard after Day 1
1. J-M Latvala/M Anttila FIN Ford Focus RS 31min 20.5sec
2. S Loeb/D Elena FRA Citroen C4 31min 33.4sec
3. P-G Andersson/J Andersson SWE Suzuki SX4 31min 43.0sec
4. M Østberg/O Unnerud NOR Subaru Impreza 31min 44.5sec
5. P Solberg/P Mills NOR Subaru Impreza 31min 47.9sec
6. D Sordo/M Marti ESP Citroen C4 31min 52.7sec
7. F Duval/D Giraudet BEL Ford Focus RS 32min 12.5sec
8. S Ogier/J Ingrassia FRA Citroen C4 32min 15.3sec
9. H Solberg/C Menkerud NOR Ford Focus RS 32min 25.2sec
10 M Wilson/S Martin GBR Ford Focus RS 32min 53.5sec

Bron: M-Sport


Hirvonen fastest at Wales Rally GB Shakedown:

BP Ford Abu Dhabi Team driver Mikko Hirvonen posted the fastest time at today’s pre-event Shakedown in Swansea.

The Finn, who won the rally in 2007, made three passes of the 3.9km stage in Penllergaer Forest, recording a best time of 2m25.6s - nine tenths of a second quicker than Subaru World Rally Team driver Petter Solberg who was his closest rival.

“The car felt okay from the start so we didn’t feel the need to change much,” said Hirvonen. “We’re using pretty much the set up we had in Japan but it felt really good here.”

Located just 18km from the service park in Swansea, conditions on the Shakedown road today were damp but frost free - in sharp contrast to the wintry conditions seen on the recce - especially on Friday’s stages in mid-Wales.

Foto: Focusmania.com

“The first year we drove this Shakedown road the surface was a bit too soft but now it’s okay and it’s actually quite representative of a typical Welsh stage,” said Hirvonen. “But after the snow and ice on the recce I don’t really know what we can expect on Friday - it could be very different to today.”

Other notable performances came from J-WRC champion, Sebastien Ogier, who was 10th in his Citroen C4, and MotoGP champion Valentino Rossi who set the 17th fastest time in a Ford Focus RS WRC.

Here are the best times from each of the WRC drivers:

1. Hirvonen 2:25.6
2. P. Solberg: 2.26.5
3. Loeb: 2:27.0
4. Sordo 2:27.2
5. Latvala 2:28.1
6. Duval: 2:29.0
7. Atkinson: 2:29.2
8. Wilson: 2:30.2
9. Andersson: 2:30.4
10. Ogier: 2:30.6
11. Gardemeister: 2:31.7
12. Ostberg: 2:32.2
13. H. Solberg: 2:33.8
14. Clark: 2:34.6
15. Al Qassimi: 2:36.8
16. Rautenbach: 2:37.4
17. Rossi: 2:41.7
18. Jones: 2:45.2
19. Weston: 2:46.0
20. Perez: 2:47.5
21. Boland: 2:53.9

Bron: wrc.com

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