12 t/m 14 november 2010

WRC Rally Engeland, laatste WRC Rally van 2010 en de laatste Rally van de Ford Focus.

Hier de eindstand van de laatste WRC Rally van het jaar 2010 en helaas ook de allerlaatste WRC Rally van de Ford Focus RS. Het goede nieuws is dat Latvala 2e is geworden in deze wereld kampioenschap van 2010. Daarmee is helaas een eind gekomen aan onze verslagen rondom de WRC Rally. Ondanks dat we dit alles erg jammer vinden, wensen we het Ford Team heel veel succes met de vervanger van de Ford Focus RS WRC, de Ford Fiesta RS WRC.

Determined Latvala secures runners-up place in WRC for Ford.

BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team drivers Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila finished second in the FIA World Rally Championship by claiming a podium in Rally GB today. Third in the 13th and final round of the series was sufficient to claim the runners-up place, and ensured the career of the record-breaking Ford Focus RS World Rally Car ended on a high note in its final WRC appearance.

Team-mates Mikko Hirvonen and Jarmo Lehtinen were fourth in another Focus RS WRC after three days of demanding competition in the forests of mid- and south Wales. Hirvonen finished sixth in the drivers' standings, while the BP Ford Abu Dhabi squad secured second in the manufacturers' table earlier in the season.

Latvala's podium means the Focus RS WRC bows out of competition after 12 years with 44 world rally wins and 99 other podiums. The car has finished in the points for a remarkable 132 consecutive rallies, dating back to the opening round of the 2002 season. It is a record that the all-new Fiesta RS WRC will aim to extend for Ford in 2011, as a new formula for WRC heralds the start of a new era.

Gales that neared 100kph and torrential rain ensured the four-day rally lived up to its reputation as one of the most difficult in the championship. The gravel forest tracks, over which the bulk of the 344.96km of white-knuckle competition was held, were treacherously muddy, with standing water causing additional problems on Friday's first leg.

However, 25-year-old Latvala made light of the conditions to lead for most of the opening leg until a misted windscreen caused him to hit a bank and puncture a tyre in the final speed test. He lost more than a minute to slip to sixth. The Finn bounced back quickly on the second leg to climb to fourth and following the retirement of Sébastien Ogier, the battle for the runners-up place became a straight duel between Latvala and Petter Solberg.

Latvala needed a podium to secure his best-ever WRC championship finish and he climbed into third in the penultimate special stage in Resolfen to also claim his sixth podium of the season. "This is a really big day for me and it feels fantastic. My target at the start of the season was to finish in the top three in the championship, so second is amazing. I won two rallies this year and I never imagined that would happen as I was the second driver in the team," he said.

"I had a self-inflicted puncture on Friday and that cost me the rally win, but that was my mistake. I was quite depressed after that, but the whole team encouraged me. I had doubts, but they didn't. Miikka and I worked so hard this year but I also want to thank Mikko for helping and encouraging me. The car showed its strength this weekend, so I must also thank my Focus too!" added Latvala.

Hirvonen ended an inconsistent opening leg in fourth, but the 30-year-old Finn was happier with his driving yesterday as he climbed to third. However, Latvala was closing all the time and the pair started the final leg separated by just 8,6sec. Hirvonen eventually finished 18.0sec behind him.

"I had good, consistent speed both yesterday and today and that boosted my confidence," said Hirvonen. "I've experienced the best moments of my career in the Focus RS WRC and I must admit that I felt emotional at the end of the last stage today, knowing that I won't drive the car again. Having said that, I can't wait to get my hands on the new Ford Fiesta RS WRC next year. This was a tough season and now I'm ready to work hard to try to get into the title fight again in 2011. Next year will be exciting with the new cars, and I can't wait."

Abu Dhabi's Khalid Al Qassimi and Michael Orr finished 11th in the team's third car.

BP Ford Abu Dhabi team director Malcolm Wilson paid tribute to Latvala's progress during the 2010 season. "He has increasingly matured as a driver and the ability to find the consistency that he lacked previously was the key factor in finishing runner-up. We took the pressure off by making him our number two driver and that helped his development. He did a thoroughly professional job all season. Mikko ended a difficult year on a high and that will boost his confidence for 2011," he said.

Ford of Europe motorsport chief Gerard Quinn said: "It was a hugely challenging season for the team against tough competition. While runners-up position in the drivers' championship was a great reward for Jari-Matti's consistency, we're here to win and next season we will set our sights on regaining the manufacturers' title. It's emotional to reach the end of an era with the Focus, the car that won back-to-back world titles for Ford but I'm excited at the prospect of seeing the Fiesta RS WRC in competition."

News from other Ford teams
Stobart M-Sport Ford drivers Henning Solberg and Stéphane Prévot finished sixth in a Focus RS WRC, 2min 11.3sec and one place ahead of team-mates Matthew Wilson and Scott Martin. The privately-entered Ford Fiesta S2000 of Xevi Pons and Alex Haro finished third in the S-WRC category and the result was enough to earn the Spanish duo the inaugural S-WRC world title.

Final positions
1. S Loeb/D Elena FRA Citroen C4 3hr 14min 54.0sec
2. P Solberg/C Patterson NOR Citroen C4 3hr 15min 13.1sec
3. J-M Latvala/M Anttila FIN Ford Focus RS 3hr 16min 29.3sec
4. M Hirvonen/J Lehtinen FIN Ford Focus RS 3hr 16min 47.3sec
5. D Sordo/D Vallejo ESP Citroen C4 3hr 17min 06.2sec
6. H Solberg/S Prévot NOR Ford Focus RS 3hr 21min 20.5sec
7. M Wilson/S Martin GBR Ford Focus RS 3hr 23min 31.8sec
8. K Räikkönen/K Lindström FIN Citroen C4 3hr 25min 21.9sec
9. M Řstberg/J Andersson NOR Subaru Impreza 3hr 25min 22.9sec
10 A Mikkelsen/O Floene NOR Skoda Fabia 3hr 28min 55.2sec


1. S Loeb 276pts
2. J-M Latvala 171pts
3. P Solberg 169pts
4. S Ogier 167pts
5. D Sordo 150pts
6. M Hirvonen 126pts


1. Citroen Total 456pts
2. BP Ford Abu Dhabi 337pts
3. Citroen Junior 217pts
4. Stobart M-Sport Ford 176pts
5. Munchi's Ford 58pts

Bron | Media Ford

Stand na dag 2:

Latvala faces final day showdown for runners-up place
BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team drivers Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila propelled themselves back into the fight for the runners-up position in the FIA World Rally Championship during an exciting second leg of Rally GB today. The Finns recovered from yesterday's time loss to climb to fourth in their Ford Focus RS World Rally Car, setting up an enticing final day duel with Petter Solberg for second in the championship.

Team-mates Mikko Hirvonen and Jarmo Lehtinen lie third in this 13th and final round of the series in their Focus RS WRC. They are 8.6sec ahead of Latvala after a second day of demanding driving in the mid-Wales forests, north of the rally base in Cardiff.

The permutations for Latvala are simple. If Solberg, who is currently second and just 4.6sec from the lead, wins the rally, then Latvala cannot take the runners-up spot. However, if the Norwegian finishes second, third place for the Ford driver would be sufficient to claim second in the championship.

After yesterday's rain-soaked and windswept action, the weather was more benign today. Bright sunshine and clear skies greeted huge crowds who flocked into the forests, and the gravel tracks dried as the day progressed. Competitors tackled two identical loops of four special stages, before a second pass over the short test on Cardiff waterfront which started the rally on Thursday. The action, which totalled 138.56km, also included a tricky 11km asphalt section on the daunting Epynt military ranges.

Latvala, who lost the lead after hitting a bank and puncturing a tyre on yesterday's final speed test, was quickly on the move this morning. The 25-year-old climbed from sixth to fifth in the opening stage in Radnor when Sébastien Ogier, the other driver fighting for second in the championship, rolled into retirement. He then moved into fourth on the final test in the loop.

He closed the gap on Hirvonen during the afternoon, despite losing a few seconds at the start of the penultimate stage after a problem with his car's launch control system.

"Ogier's accident changed the championship situation," he said. "I had good speed this morning, but the most important thing in these conditions was firstly to stay on the road. I took some massive risks and made some errors. This afternoon I decided that the gap between myself and the two leaders ahead was too big. I wasn't going to catch them and I felt uncomfortable taking those risks, so I drove more calmly this afternoon.

"On the final forest stage I lost time at the start after a problem with the launch control. I was angry and pushed hard. But I had to maintain my common sense and not do anything silly. I really want to finish on the podium tomorrow and hope that's enough for me to take second in the championship. I have a chance of second or third – but I really want second. I like tomorrow's stages. They're not easy, but they suit my driving," added Latvala.

Hirvonen admitted his driving was 'inconsistent' during the morning, but the 30-year-old climbed into third after Ogier's accident and remained there for the rest of the day. "Sometimes everything seemed to go really well but then at other times I was just too cautious, especially on the Epynt asphalt. It's a question of finding my rhythm, but that has been the problem for most of the year. Having said that, everything was much better than yesterday," he said.

"I'm having a good battle with Jari-Matti, but he seems to be in a different zone. He drove very well and very quickly, although I was pleased with some of my times. On the final stage this morning I saw sheep running across the road and had to slow down briefly," he added.

Abu Dhabi's Khalid Al Qassimi and Michael Orr are 12th in the team's other Focus RS WRC. "The conditions were very different from yesterday as the weather was drier, but the stages were actually more slippery," said Al Qassimi.

BP Ford Abu Dhabi team director Malcolm Wilson urged caution ahead of tomorrow's final leg. "Jari-Matti drove very maturely, especially considering the pressure of the championship. It was also encouraging to see Mikko post fast times and we have two cars in strong positions. But we must remember that tomorrow's Resolfen stage is one of the most difficult of the rally," he said.

News from other Ford teams

Stobart M-Sport Ford drivers Henning Solberg and Stéphane Prévot lie sixth in a Focus RS WRC, 1min 48.1sec ahead of team-mates Matthew Wilson and Scott Martin. Both had troublefree days. Monster World Rally Team's Ken Block and Alex Gelsomino were 10th after the morning loop in a Focus RS WRC, but the Americans retired after the opening afternoon stage with a broken rear driveshaft. They will restart tomorrow under SupeRally rules.

Tomorrow's Route

The final leg is the shortest and most compact of the rally. After leaving Cardiff at 06.15, drivers face two identical loops of the Resolfen and Margam Park stages in the Vale of Neath, covering 76.14km. Each loop is split by a return to the service park in Cardiff Bay. The rally finishes back there at 15.25.

Bron | M-Sport

Stand na dag 1:

Latvala leads Rally GB until day turns sour in final speed test.

BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team drivers Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila led Rally GB for most of today's opening leg through the windswept and rain-soaked forests of central Wales. However, they punctured a tyre on their Ford Focus RS World Rally Car after hitting a bank in the day's final speed test, losing more than a minute, and the disappointed Finns returned to the event's Cardiff base in sixth.

Team-mates and fellow countrymen Mikko Hirvonen and Jarmo Lehtinen lie fourth in another Focus RS WRC as treacherous driving conditions affected this final round of the FIA World Rally Championship. Winds neared 100kph as the event began with a short special stage along the waterfront in Cardiff last night. The gales were joined by torrential rain this afternoon as the weather, always the most difficult aspect of this rally, did its best to hinder competitors.

The rally is the final outing for the Focus RS WRC as Ford's official entry car in the WRC, ahead of a new formula being introduced next season. Latvala was intent on ending the car's career on a high note and, after ending last night's stage in fifth, he blasted into the lead on today's opening stage in Hafren Forest.

He dropped a handful of seconds in the following 4.26km Sweet Lamb test after his engine took in water at a river crossing and slid to third. But fastest time in the 27.88km Myherin put the 25-year-old back on top and he ended the morning loop with a 1.4sec advantage.

"The grip changed constantly," he said. "Sometimes the road was soft and gave good grip, but in other places the surface was hard and polished, and I drove closer to the ditches to try to find better traction. My only problem was in Sweet Lamb when the engine took in some water. The section after the watersplash was uphill and it took about 500 metres to clear itself and run properly again."

Latvala extended his lead to 5.2sec before the puncture 5km after the start of the final Myherin stage left him 67.0sec behind tonight. "My windscreen was misting and the visibility was bad and getting worse, because it was also foggy. I approached a right corner over a crest and I didn't turn in early enough and hit the bank. It wasn't until I reached the next junction that I realised the impact had knocked the tyre off the rim," he explained.

"A kilometre before the finish the tyre came off completely, and pulled off a large piece of panel work. It was in that final kilometre that I lost most of the time. The only mechanical damage was to the oil cooler, but we fixed that after the stage finish," added Latvala.

Hirvonen ended the morning loop in sixth, 25.7sec behind his team-mates but the 30-year-old wasn't happy. "The car was great and I felt I drove really well, but the times were disappointing," he said. "My road position wasn't so good and the surface was quite polished, so perhaps that's why I dropped some seconds. It was strange because everything felt so good."

He climbed to fourth this afternoon, ending the day 42.2sec from the lead. "I attacked as hard as I could, I couldn't go any faster. I made a couple of small mistakes in the Sweet Lamb stage when I overshot two hairpins but I didn’t lose much time. There was heavy rain on all three stages, and although I've experienced worse in this rally, it wasn't enjoyable," said Hirvonen, who fitted stiffer suspension to his car in advance of tomorrow's leg.

Abu Dhabi's Khalid Al Qassimi and Michael Orr are 14th in the team's third Focus RS WRC. "The conditions here provide one of the biggest tests of the year. Some parts of the stages were very exposed and with the weather being so unpredictable it was hard to know what to expect ahead of each stage," said Al Qassimi.

BP Ford Abu Dhabi team director Malcolm Wilson said: "It was a great start from Jari-Matti and a fantastic drive from him throughout the day, until his final stage problem. He lost a lot of time, but with a big fight going on ahead of him, mistakes will be made and I believe he can still take a good result. Mikko is very disappointed. I hope he can come out tomorrow on different stages and have a good day, but he has a lot of hard work to do."

News from other Ford teams

Stobart M-Sport Ford drivers Henning Solberg and Stéphane Prévot lie seventh in a Focus RS WRC, one place and 48.8sec ahead of team-mates Matthew Wilson and Scott Martin. Wilson dropped time in this morning's opening stage after spinning and stalling. Third team members Liu Chao Dong and Anthony McLoughlin retired after a fire at the rear of their car filled the cockpit with smoke. The Chinese driver will return tomorrow under SupeRally rules.

Tomorrow's Route

The second leg promises to be equally as demanding. After another 06.00 start, competitors again journey north, this time into the hills of the Brecon Beacons where they will tackle two identical loops of four stages. The day ends after a second pass over the short Cardiff Bay test, drivers finally turning off their engines at 19.31 after 138.56km of action. Perhaps the most difficult challenge will be the 25.14km Four Ways Crychan, which begins with a 11km asphalt section on the Epynt military ranges before tackling the gravel roads of Crychan Forest.

Bron | M-Sport

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