All posts by admintotal

Superbike World Championship – Argentina

Two more wins for Rea

In the wake of his fifth world champion title at the end of September in Magny-Cours, Jonathan Rea chalked up three new podiums in Argentina. And the Kawasaki rider made it twice to the top step.

The penultimate event of the Superbike World Championship season, the Argentinian event organized on the Villicum circuit in San Juan once again allowed the Kawasaki riders to show off. Third during the practice test sessions and second at the finish of the first race, Jonathan Rea took home two victories on Sunday, gaining the upper hand over Alvaro Bautista, the winner the day before. “I’m very happy with the way we managed this weekend,” said the five-time world champion. “We started on a very dirty track which caused us many problems, especially in terms of tire wear. But after each session and after each race the team did a great job, changing the settings of my bike each time. On Sunday, it behaved perfectly. The conditions had improved, the grip was better, and I was able to hold off Bautista who brakes hard. I was able to keep up a great pace that even allowed me to get away from him fairly quickly.” In trouble during the practice test sessions, Leon Haslam was penalized by being far back on the grid at each start. Sixth on Saturday, the British rider who, unlike his opponents was riding the San Juan track for the first time, finished eighth in the sprint race and tenth in the last event of the weekend. Toprak Razgatlioglu on the other hand rode well and, like Rea, chalked up three podiums during the Argentinian weekend. Three times third, the Turkish rider confirmed his improvement during the second part of the championship. In Supersport, Lucas Mahias finished his weekend on the second step of the podium. “I lacked feeling during the practice test sessions,” said the Frenchman. “At the beginning of the race, I still didn’t feel very comfortable on the bike. But by watching my opponents, I started to take the bends more tightly and found I could ride at a much faster pace. I was even the fastest on the second half of the race. Unfortunately, Jules Cluzel had taken too much of an advance for me to catch up with him. Whatever the case, this new podium was a great reward for the entire Kawasaki team.” His teammate Hikari Okubo took the chequered flag in twelfth position after his machine had vibration problems.

The Championship

Although he won the Championship title during the last weekend of the championship organized in France, it seems Jonathan Rea can’t win enough. The Kawasaki rider further increased his lead over his opponents in Argentina. 141 points now separate him from Alvaro Bautista. Further down the list, Leon Haslam remains in sixth place overall with 257 points, just behind Toprak Razgatlioglu who is now only five points behind Alex Lowes and six behind Michael Van der Mark. Already assured of the title of best independent rider, the Turk can still hope to overtake the two official Yamaha riders and finish the championship on the third step of the podium. In Supersport, Lucas Mahias has consolidated his fourth place and is now only 14 points behind Jules Cluzel. Fifth and missing 46 points, Hikari Okubo can no longer hope to catch up with his teammate.

CITROËN AND OGIER TAKE BRONZE IN WALES GB

45th Wales Rally GB (3 – 6 October 2019) – Finish

Wales Rally GB lived up to its reputation as one of the toughest events on the WRC calendar as Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia negotiated the unpredictable Welsh weather and muddy conditions to finish third overall. Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm made it to the end of the rally, having been forced to rejoin under Rally 2 rules, gathering considerable experience in the process.

With today’s final leg only covering 38.42 kilometres, and held on stages well known to the all the crews, it was asking a lot of Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia to make up the deficit to the top two crews. Matters were only made worse when the Great Orme stage (4.74km), where some big gaps appeared last year, was cancelled this year for safety reasons. At that point, the French pair focused on keeping clear of trouble in the many tricky sections, before going for it in the Power Stage. They were second fastest on the final stage, therefore adding four bonus points to those awarded for finishing third overall.

This result is Citroën Total World Rally Team’s eleventh podium in twelve rounds this season and the French crew’s eighth top-three finish, and ensures they remain in second position in the championship, twenty-eight points behind the leaders.

Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia moved into the top three after the rally’s first proper stage, before driving really aggressively in the C3 WRC on Friday afternoon, claiming two stage wins and confirming their intention to try and secure a sixth win at this round. They ended the opening leg just 3.4s off the lead. Determined to pursue their push on Saturday, not only the longest leg of the weekend but also contested without a mid-leg service, the six-time world champions once again pushed as hard as they could in an exciting and closely-fought scrap at the front. Unfortunately, they weren’t quite able to match the pace of the other two championship contenders. They therefore began today’s final leg in third place, 17.3s behind the leaders and 6.3s off second place.

After driving somewhat cautiously on the first proper stage as they got to grips with the handling of the C3 WRC on the greasy Welsh roads, Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm immediately upped their pace with a fourth fastest time, 4.0s off the pace on the following stage (Penmachno, 16.19km). A third fastest time, just 1.0s off the leading pace on Aberhirnant (SS5, 10.26km) meant they made it the mid-leg service on day one just 7.8s off the podium. However, they were then caught out by one of the stages’ many changes in grip, overestimating the grip available on a braking point at the start of the second loop. They went no further on the opening leg. Having rejoined the action under Rally 2 rules on Saturday, they focused on improving their knowledge of the subtleties of the event and learning what it is like to start first in the running order on muddy, slippery roads, sometimes flooded with standing water. They nonetheless showed impressive speed at certain points, scoring a third fastest time on the Power Stage, within a second of the stage-winning time.

REACTIONS FROM…

Sébastien Ogier, Citroën Total WRT driver

“The Power Stage sums up our weekend in many ways: we have been a couple of tenths back throughout the rally. We tried our best and gave it absolutely everything, but we were just a bit short of performance whilst Ott had a super weekend. It’s not a great result for us in terms of the championship with just two rounds to go, but we’re going to keep fighting tooth and nail for as long as it remains possible mathematically to win the title.”

Esapekka Lappi, Citroën Total WRT driver

“For sure, it’s a shame to find yourself out of contention on the Friday. But there are some positives because learned a lot here. I was pleasantly surprised by the level of performance we managed to show in the C3 WRC despite having had totally dry conditions for our pre-event test.”

TWO QUESTIONS FOR PIERRE BUDAR, CITROËN RACING TEAM PRINCIPAL

What is your analysis of this slightly disappointing weekend?

Yes, I suppose we have slightly mixed feelings about our weekend. Obviously, there are many things we can be pleased about, not least securing the brand’s eleventh podium in twelve rounds this season. We also showed great reliability with the C3 WRC, especially on Saturday when we had to cover almost half of the total distance with no service period. On the other hand, we had hoped to be more competitive so that Sébastien and Julien could keep moving upwards in the championship standings, especially as they once again showed incredible fight at this rally. It’s an event where they excel, as can be seen in their performance on the Power Stage. Instead of making up ground, however, they have dropped a little further back. Similarly, we were hoping for better for Esapekka and Janne, but they were a little unlucky in drifting marginally off the line at the wrong place. We saw afterwards in the pace they showed that they obviously could have secured a strong result this weekend, but you need quite a bit of experience to read the grip on these muddy gravel roads, something that they are still in the process of gathering. They also learned a lot during the rest of the rally, by being consistent.

How do see the final two rounds?

Obviously, the situation in the championship is more difficult now and we’re going to need a bit of good luck to turn things in our favour. But we’re not about to give up. We now have to work hard to give Sébastien and Julien a car that enables them to fight for victory at these two remaining rounds. Last week, Sébastien spent a day testing on tarmac at our Satory test track. This week, we had another test there and next week, we’ll be holding a four-day test in Spain. We’re going to give it our very best shot, so we have no regrets at the end of the year.

THE HIGHLIGHT OF THE WEEKEND

Until the end of the Power Stage, the Citroën Total World Rally Team tried everything to limit the points dropped in the championship, with a team strategy that was close to perfect. 

Despite their misfortune on day one, Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm constantly showed their competitiveness on the Welsh roads, whenever they weren’t too hampered by the conditions. This is why the team encouraged them to express their talent on the Power Stage, as part of a team strategy designed to nick as many points as possible from their rivals. The Finnish pair executed their part perfectly, topping the timesheets as many other crews completed, until Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia moved ahead of them by less than five tenths. Neuville tried and failed to dislodge the two Citroën crews, before Tänak finally managed to grab the top time by just over four tenths of a second.

FINAL PROVISIONAL STANDINGS

2. Tänak / Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) 3:00:58.0
3. Neuville / Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) +10.9
4. Ogier / Ingrassia (Citroën C3 WRC) +23.8
5. Meeke / Marshall (Toyota Yaris WRC) +35.6
6. Evans / Martin (Ford Fiesta WRC) +48.6
7. Mikkelsen / Jaeger (Hyundai i20 WRC) +58.2
8. Tidemand / Floene (Ford Fiesta WRC) +5:23.8
9. Breen / Nagle (Hyundai i20 WRC) + 9:25.0

27. Lappi / Ferm (Citroën C3 WRC) +35:53.7

DRIVERS’ WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP

1. Ott Tänak – 240 points

Sébastien Ogier – 212 points

1. Thierry Neuville – 199 points
2. Andreas Mikkelsen – 102 points
3. Kris Meeke – 98 points
4. Elfyn Evans – 90 points
5. Jari-Matti Latvala – 84 points
6. Esapekka Lappi – 83 points
7. Teemu Suninen – 83 points
8. Dani Sordo – 72 points

* Subject to publication of the official standings by the FIA

MANUFACTURERS’ WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP

1. Hyundai WRT – 340 points
2. Toyota Gazoo Racing – 332 points
3. Citroën Total WRT – 278 points
4. M-Sport Ford WRT – 200 points

* Subject to publication of the official standings by the FIA

ASTON MARTIN VANTAGE GTE DOMINATES IN SIX HOURS OF FUJI

– Aston Martin Racing clinches first Vantage GTE victory of WEC season
– First double-class victory first for Aston Martin Vantage GTE in WEC
– Team earns first double-podium for Vantage as sister car finishes third
– TF Sport captures first win in WEC to cap an amazing month for team

Sunday 6 October, 2019, Fuji Speedway, Japan. The Aston Martin Vantage GTE clinched its first double victory in the FIA World Endurance Championship, with the car winning both the GTE Pro and Am classes of the 6 Hours of Fuji. It was Aston Martin’s first double triumph since the team managed it in Mexico in 2016.

Marco Sørensen and Nicki Thiim delivered a perfectly-judged performance with the #95 Aston Martin Racing Vantage GTE Pro car in Japan, to deliver their first win of the 2019-2020 season and their second since the car was introduced in May 2018.

Meanwhile in GTE Am TF Sport dominated the race with a lights-to-flag victory, having started from the class pole position. Sørensen began the race from third, but quickly moved up to second in a first hour that stood out for its fantastically close racing between the three manufacturer teams in the Pro class. Once in front, thanks to a brilliant pass for the lead by the Dane on the pit straight using the tow of backmarker, he and team-mate Nicki Thiim (DEN) were able to establish control of the race. The duo did briefly lose the lead to their team-mates Alex Lynn (GB) and Maxime Martin (BEL) in the #97 car, who undercut the #95 on an alternative strategy in the second hour, but after that the Danes managed the race and the intermittent rainy conditions perfectly. Lynn and Martin brought the sister Vantage GTE home in third, marking the first time the car has recorded a double-podium finish in GTE Pro.

It was the fifth win for Thiim and Sørensen in the Dane Train, and the third victory for the Vantage GTE in the last six WEC events. It means that the Danes are now second in the GTE Pro drivers’ standing, one point off the lead, while Aston Martin is also second in the Manufacturers’ Championship with 65 points.

“Winning a race like the one we did today is why we all do it,” said Sørensen. “It was great to be involved in the fight for the lead in the first hour of the race, and because we were leading, after that the race seemed to fly by. This was an important win for Aston Martin and and I am very proud for the team. I’m delighted.” Thiim added: “It is a great feeling to be standing here as a winner. WEC GTE Pro has some of the best racing on the planet as you saw today. It was so close that we had to split strategies on the two cars to cover off the competition. That worked well for us and I’m really proud of the team who have worked so hard for this. They kept their focus and had the right mentality today which was why we were able to capitalise on the car’s pace.
This is a fantastic result for Aston Martin.”

In only the second race since the Vantage GTE became eligible to race in the Am class, TF Sport produced an outstanding performance. Having started from pole position the bright red #90 car led all the way. Salih Yoluc became the first Turkish driver to win a WEC event, while for AMR works drivers Jonny Adam (GB) and Charlie Eastwood (IRL) it was the end of a long wait. TF Sport has finished second four times in the last two seasons prior to this win.

Aston Martin Racing Managing Director John Gaw added, “This result is the perfect demonstration of the Vantage GTE’s potential. It was a great performance by the two Danes. Marco drove extremely well in the first hour and Nicki was outstanding throughout his stint and when the rain came. This was also the first opportunity for us to see our Technical partner Michelin’s new tyres in action on an equal footing in the dry against our rivals, and I think we’ve proven that we are very much in the fight. That Alex and Max also finished on the podium rounded off an excellent team effort. It was indeed a great day for Aston Martin, and I would like to wish TF Sport congratulations on an excellent and long overdue win in the GTE Am class.”

The next round of the FIA WEC takes place at Shanghai, in China, on 10 November.

MotoGP World Championship Thailand Grand Prix

Márquez keeps his lead

With only four races remaining, Álex Márquez now has a forty-point lead in the Moto2 World Championship standings. The title is getting closer …

The first of the four events on the Asia / Pacific Tour, the Thailand Grand Prix was more than a mere formality for the riders who had to cope with harsh weather conditions and a track whose grip changed from one day to the next.  Álex Márquez handled it well. Chalking up his fifth pole position in seven Grands Prix, the Spaniard finished the first lap of the race in the lead before giving way to Luca Marini. He then fought it out with Iker Lecuona, Brad Binder and Augusto Fernandez before crossing the finish line in fifth position. “The race was more difficult than expected,” said the championship leader. “Right from the warm-up this morning I found it difficult keeping up the pace. The conditions were noticeably different from the free practice sessions and things were more difficult for me. Despite it all we had a good race, I fought long enough in the lead, and could have made the podium. That was not to be, but the weekend was still positive, I finished fifth with useful points for the championship.” Xavi Vierge never saw the checkered flag. After qualifying for seventh place, the Catalan fell on the eleventh lap, trying to catch up with the leaders. On the side of the Tech 3 team, Marco Bezzecchi clinched his second top ten of the season after Assen. “The bike was working well and despite the heat I managed to keep enough energy for the end of the race,” said the Italian, “and that allowed me to overtake several riders in the last six laps.” Phillip Oettl took the checkered flag in twenty-second position. In MotoGP, Miguel Oliveira finished just short of the points, handicapped by pain in his shoulder after a fall during the practice test sessions. “I was paced well on the first part of the race but unfortunately I couldn’t keep it up,” regretted the Portuguese rider. Hafizh Syahrin complained about a lack of engine power probably due to the heat. He finished in twentieth position.

The Championship

Although he lost two points to Augusto Fernandez after the Thailand Grand Prix, Álex Márquez has nonetheless consolidated his position as leader, since with four races to go before the end of the championship he now has a forty-point lead over his Spanish opponent. Xavi Vierge has slipped to fifteenth place while Marco Bezzecchi has moved up to twenty-first. In the MotoGP category, Miguel Oliveira keeps his 17th place and Hafizh Syahrin is still 24th.

Superbike World Championship – France

A Five-Star Rea

While there are still two events to be run, Jonathan Rea on the Magny-Cours circuit won his fifth world champion title in a row. A unique performance in the history of the Superbike World Championship.

By winning the second race of the weekend at Magny-Cours as well as the sprint of the Superpole, Jonathan Rea clinched his fifth World Superbike title, something no rider has ever done before. The previous day, the Kawasaki rider was second in the first heat organized on the French circuit. The feat is all the greater in that there are still two events on the calendar, in Argentina and Qatar, and only a while ago Rea was 61 points behind Alvaro Bautista. “I’m super happy,” said the Brit. “It’s the most incredible challenge I’ve ever met since I started racing. The beginning of the season was very complicated, but we never gave up. We managed to react and work as a team. Honestly, I didn’t expect to win the title this weekend. The goal was to get it in Argentina and then go to Qatar without any pressure. Bautista’s fall was an opportunity that we couldn’t miss. I was better on the bike today, it was warmer and the pace was slower. Michael was better than me in some parts of the circuit, I was better in others. I took stock of the situation before riding all-out to win. And winning the title on top of a new victory is just fantastic. It’s a great reward for the whole team without whom nothing would have been possible.” For Leon Haslam, the weekend at Magny-Cours was more difficult. Victim of a crash Saturday, the Kawasaki rider had to settle for seventh place under the chequered flag on Sunday afternoon. Toprak Razgatlioglu took advantage of the French event to chalk up his first World Superbike win. The Turkish rider unfortunately fell on Sunday after clinching with Alvaro Bautista. In Supersport, Lucas Mahais chalked up his first win of the season in front of his fans after a hard-fought race. if proof was needed, Hikaro Okubo finished fifth – just two seconds behind his teammate.

The Championship

Backed by the 83rd victory of his career in Superbike, at Magny-Cours Jonathan Rea became the first five-time world champion in the history of the championship. With 544 points, 129 more than Alvaro Bautista, his runner-up, the Kawasaki rider is sure he cannot be overtaken when there are only two races left to contend. Leon Haslam slipped to sixth overall with 21 points behind Toprak Tazgatlioglu, who is now in fifth place with just 14 points behind Michael Van der Mark. In Supersport, Lucas Mahias has consolidated his fourth place and is now only 14 points from Jules Cluzel. Hikari Okubo keeps his fifth place. 30 points now separate the two teammates.

Endurance – Bol d’Or

Champions deserved better

For their first race with the number 1 plate, the riders of the team Kawasaki SRC were really unlucky. Just as they were fighting it out with the front-runners, the title-holding team had to retire after a crash, all due a cursed slick of oil.

The opening round of the 2019/2020 season of the Endurance World Championship, the Bol d’Or turned into a nightmare for the team Kawasaki SRC. Having qualified for second place on the starting grid, the title holders successfully rode through the chaotic start to the race, the rain having forced the organizers to suspend the event shortly after 18:00. “We started aquaplaning on the straight,” said Jeremy Guarnoni. “Even riding behind the pace became dangerous. Stopping the bikes was the right decision.” The 83rd Bol d’Or was interrupted for a dozen hours. The race management waited until the weather improved to restart the bikes at 6:00 am for the next 8 hours. After starting well, the team Kawasaki SRC was among the leading quartet when the Honda number 5 broke its engine, covering the Paul Ricard circuit with oil. In the wake of Mike Di Meglio, Erwan Nigon was trapped without being able to react. “There was oil everywhere,” said Gilles Stafler’s rider. “I found myself on the ground without having the time to understand or do anything. I was able to pick up my bike, and I was about to start it again when Loris Baz fell in turn. His bike cut me down, and when it hit mine, everything caught on fire. I just managed to get out of the blaze, it was pretty terrifying.” The motorcycle being completely destroyed, the Kawasaki team were unable to make it to the finish of the first race of the season. The next meeting is in December in Malaysia for the Eight Hours of Sepang, a new event on the EWC calendar.

MotoGP World Championship – Aragon Grand Prix

Márquez increases his lead

Leader of the Moto2 World Championship, Álex Márquez increased his lead by finishing third in the Grand Prix of Aragon while taking advantage of the fall of Augusto Fernandez, his main rival in the title race.

In front of his fans, on the Aragon circuit, the leader of the Moto2 world championship was eager to shine. Álex Márquez didn’t win, but by making it to the podium for the ninth time of the season and also taking advantage of the fall of his rival in the title race, Augusto Fernandez, the rider from Cervera has increased his lead at the top of the overall standings. From pole position, Márquez fought it out to the finish behind Brad Binder, together with Luca Marini and Jorge Navarro. “It was a difficult race because the conditions were different from those we had during the practice test sessions, especially because of the wind that had changed direction,” said the Marc VDS rider. “In trying to catch up with Binder I used my rear tire too much and at the end of the race I lacked traction. So when Jorge overtook me I didn’t insist. Augusto having fallen, my thoughts were on the championship.” His team-mate Xavi Vierge made it again to the top-ten, taking the chequered flag in tenth place. “I was hoping for better,” said the Catalan. “I didn’t have the same good feelings as during the practice test sessions, I had the impression I was fighting with the bike.” Marco Bezzecchi, who suffered from a lack of grip on his rear tire, finished fifteenth. Philipp Oettl, the second rider of the team KTM Tech 3, had to settle for twenty-sixth place. In MotoGP, Miguel Oliveira returned to the top fifteen. Thirteenth on the finish line, the Portuguese rider was satisfied with his performance after two Did Not Finish: “I had a good race fighting it out with the top riders. I am all the happier in that it’s not easy to overtake on this circuit.” His teammate Hafizh Syarhin ranked twenty-first.

The Championship

With his third place, Álex Márquez increased his lead in the overall standings from 26 to 38 points. A good operation before the major round of four races overseas looming ahead in October. Xavi Vierge stays in fourteenth place. On the side of the Tech 3 team, Marco Bezzecchi is in 23rd place with 11 points while Philipp Oettl’s counter has yet to start. In MotoGP, Miguel Oliveira has moved up one places. He is now seventeenth with 29 points. No change for Hafizh Syahrin, still twenty-fourth with 6 points.

ANTONIO FELIX DA COSTA JOINS DS TECHEETAH

DS TECHEETAH are very proud to announce that Antonio Felix Da Costa will join the team on 1st October 2019. 

The 28-year-old Portuguese driver will take his take his long-term #13 for Season Six of the ABB FIA Formula E Championship that will commence on 23 November 2019 in Riyadh.

Antonio has raced in the championship since its inception, having contested 54 races where he achieved pole positions, podiums and two race wins (Buenos Aires and Riyadh). In the last season 2018/2019 Antonio Felix da Costa finished 6th overall.

Mark Preston, DS TECHEETAH Team Principal:

“It’s fantastic to have Antonio back with the team. He’s remained a close friend with all of us during his time away and we’re all looking forward to welcoming him home and to see him in the gold and black DS TECHEETAH colours. He will be a great, and fast, addition to the team and we’re all very excited to see what Jean-Eric and Antonio will deliver on track this coming year.”

Xavier Mestelan Pinon, DS Performance Director:

“I am particularly proud to welcome Antonio in our team. His experience in this discipline and his speed will be crucial in our pursuit of victories and titles. While awaiting the first race in Riyad, he will be able to commence several test sessions together with Jean-Eric and help us to improve our FE E-TENSE 20.”

Antonio Felix Da Costa, DS TECHEETAH Driver:

“Getting the opportunity to join a double championship winning team in such a highly competitive motorsport category like Formula E it’s very rare. It was a very hard decision to leave my current position but it’s an opportunity I just couldn’t say no to and I’m very excited to join Jean-Éric and everyone at DS TECHEETAH.”

Jean-Éric Vergne, DS TECHEETAH Driver:

“I’d like to extend a very warm welcome to Antonio. We’ve been friends for a long time, and we’ve been part of the same motorsport program in the past so it’s great to be able to work together again. He will be a great addition to the team.”

CITROËN CLAIMS A ONE-TWO FINISH AND MOVES BACK INTO THE TITLE HUNT !

Brilliantly reliable and competitive, the C3 WRCs of Sébastien Ogier – Julien Ingrassia and Esapekka Lappi Janne Ferm claimed a magnificent one-two finish at Rally Turkey, enabling the French crew to move back into serious contention in the race for the drivers’ and co-drivers’ world titles.

The tactics were fairly straightforward for the Citroën Total World Rally Team on today’s remaining 38.62 kilometres. Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm’s job was to maintain a decent pace so as to secure second place and avoid the risk of being caught out. Meanwhile, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia needed to confirm their pace notes on Marmaris (7.05km), the day’s opening speed test that would also be used as the Power Stage. They then had to look after their tyres on the next two stages so they could push as much as possible on the final test in the hope of collecting a few bonus points. Citroën’s crews stuck to the plan, securing the one-two finish, whilst Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia scored three extra points with the third fastest time on the Power Stage.

This one-two finish is the Citroën Total World Rally Team’s first such result since the 2015 Rally Argentina and is the team’s third win this season, following victories in Monte-Carlo and Mexico. It also sees them take their ninth and tenth podiums of the year. It equally signals the team’s return to the front with an impressively fast and robust C3 WRC this weekend and illustrates its determination to fight all the way in the championship. The result is certainly excellent news for Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia, who move back up to second in the standings, just seventeen points behind the leaders, with some ninety points left up for grabs in the three remaining rounds of the season.

Third on the road on Friday, Sébastien and Julien got off to a frustrating start with a puncture six kilometres from the end of the first proper stage. However, they moved back up to third place on the next stage and ended the day in second overall, 17.7s behind their team-mates, setting two consecutive third fastest times in the process. A bold tyre choice for Saturday morning’s opening stage in the very hot conditions (three medium and two hard Michelin tyres) enabled them to claim their first stage win of the weekend on Yesilbelde (33km). Their rivals were left at least a minute behind. They then focused on taking as few risks as possible and controlling their pace. They nonetheless grabbed the second fastest time on the repeat of Yesilbelde, which took them into the overall lead. This morning, they were therefore well placed to bring home their third win in the C3 WRC and also secure their seventh podium in 2019.

Making the most of their position down the running order (ninth) on day one, Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm impressed on SS2 with a second fastest time. They then took the overall lead on the following test with their first stage win! Clearly at home in the C3 WRC, Citroën’s Finns were as calm and focused as they were impressive, despite their road position being a disadvantage on certain very rough sections of Friday’s afternoon loop and having a tyre package ill-suited to the rain that began to fall late in the day. They even added two stage wins to their tally and led the rally until a brief stall on SS12 saw them relinquish the lead to their team-mates. A minor mishap that didn’t prevent them from heading into today’s final leg in a strong position to claim their third podium of the season, after also finishing as runners-up in Sweden and Finland.

REACTIONS FROM…

Sébastien Ogier, Citroën Total WRT driver

“We really needed this win if we were to have a chance of getting back into contention in the championship so I’m really happy to bring it home for the team this weekend. We knew that anything could happen at a rally like this where it is really rough but we managed to keep out of trouble by adopting a smart approach. It’s a good morale boost for everyone as we move into the end of the season! We all know that we have to keep working really hard. We’ll savour this win and then get down to work again tomorrow.”

Esapekka Lappi, Citroën Total WRT driver

“It was a very demanding event, one which I didn’t really enjoy last year so I’m obviously pleased with my performance this weekend. We managed to have two very good first legs, displaying the same kind of pace as Seb and Julien, which is no easy feat. Today, the challenge for us was to get the car over the line and help them as much as possible. Our C3 WRC was perfect this weekend. We had no issues whatsoever and that was one of the keys to us securing this great result.”

TWO QUESTIONS FOR PIERRE BUDAR, CITROËN RACING TEAM PRINCIPAL

What can you say about the team’s one-two finish this weekend?

I’m incredibly proud of what we have all managed to achieve this weekend! It’s certainly going to do us a whole lot of good. After the disappointment in Germany, I think the team proved that it had recovered. We were united and have shown real strength of character to manage to bounce back like that this weekend. We came away from four days of testing in Greece feeling optimistic about our chances and we had confirmation this weekend that we were right to feel positive. Everyone worked really hard to provide our crews with a C3 WRC that was both extremely robust and very quick on these rough gravel roads, which are some of the most demanding all season. The crews rounded off the job with a great deal of talent. They both produced an authoritative, dominant performance this weekend, claiming five stage wins in total. Rest assured, we’ll be driven by the same determination and fighting spirit right until the final stage of Rally Australia.

How would you describe the performances of your crews?

Perfect! Esapekka and Janne made the most of their road position on Friday morning, before proving to be extremely solid when the conditions were no longer particularly kind. They led the rally for nine stages, finding the right balance between pushing and controlling. They then clearly understood that the team needed them to not risk ruining what was shaping up to be a great result. I would like to pay tribute to their superb team spirit. They have clearly made another step forward in the C3 WRC on gravel and will now be a definite asset in our attempt to win the world title with Sébastien and Julien. Speaking of whom, Messrs Ogier and Ingrassia managed perfectly to deal with their position in the running order on Friday, ending the day ideally placed. They then produced the kind of performance of which they alone are capable on Saturday morning, showing their unrivalled ability when it comes to tyre management. The sign of a true champion is knowing when is the right time to strike. Over the years, they have also become known for never giving up and they certainly reminded everyone of that this weekend!

THE HIGHLIGHT OF THE WEEKEND

Yesilbelde (33km), Saturday’s opening stage and one of the slowest and most technical of the weekend with average speeds of just over 75kph, saw the Citroën Total World Rally Team crews establish their future one-two finish with authority

This very rough stage was clearly the big challenge of Saturday’s leg. Sébastien Ogier – Julien Ingrassia and Esapekka Lappi – Janne Ferm, having already been at the sharp end in the C3 WRCs the day before on the very long Çetibeli stage (38.15km) disregarded the length of the test and the stifling heat to produce impressive performances. The French crew recorded a genuinely breathtaking time thanks to a bold tyre choice, whilst the Finns finished 16.7s behind to make it a one-two on the stage. Further back, only Andreas Mikkelsen came close to the Citroën crews, whilst the rest of the field was at least a second per kilometre off the pace, a huge gap at this level. This performance also left the Citroën Total World Rally Team’s closest rivals a minute adrift, enabling the team to approach the afternoon loop, expected to be very demanding, in a more relaxed mood.

FINAL PROVISIONAL STANDINGS

  1. Ogier / Ingrassia (Citroën C3 WRC) 3:50:12.1
  2. Lappi / Ferm (Citroën C3 WRC) +34.7
  3. Mikkelsen / Jaeger (Hyundai i20 WRC) +1:04.5
  4. Suninen / Lehtinen (Ford Fiesta WRC) +1:35.1
  5. Sordo / Del Barrio (Hyundai i20 WRC) +2:25.9
  6. Latvala / Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +2:59.1
  7. Meeke / Marshall (Toyota Yaris WRC) +3:53.3
  8. Neuville / Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) +5:34.8
  9. Tidemand / Floene (Ford Fiesta WRC) +7:22.9

DRIVERS’ WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP

  1. Ott Tänak – 210 points
  2. Sébastien Ogier – 193 points
  3. Thierry Neuville – 180 points
  4. Andreas Mikkelsen – 94 points
  5. Kris Meeke – 86 points
  6. Jari-Matti Latvala – 84 points
  7. Teemu Suninen – 83 points
  8. Esapekka Lappi – 80 points
  9. Elfyn Evans – 78 points
  10. Dani Sordo – 72 points

*subject to the publication of the official classification by the FIA

MANUFACTURERS’ WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP

  1. Hyundai WRT – 314 points
  2. Toyota Gazoo Racing – 295 points
  3. Citroën Total WRT – 259 points
  4. M-Sport Ford WRT – 184 points

*subject to the publication of the official classification by the FIA

INCREDIBLE TURNAROUND GIVES TIMMY HANSEN WORLD RX LEAD IN LATVIA

Riga, 15 September 2019 – Timmy Hansen has taken the lead of the FIA World Rallycross drivers’ championship heading to the final round of the season, scoring victory in an incredible reversal of fortunes.

After Qualifying 2 on Saturday afternoon Timmy was P15 and out of the Semi Final qualification places, after being pushed into a tyre barrier that broke his car’s right-rear wheel.

But an incredible run of results on Sunday ensured he turned around a potentially disastrous weekend into a race win, starting with topping both Q3 and Q4 to qualify second.

Kevin Hansen’s route to the Semi Finals was a model of consistency. A fantastic launch off the line in Q1 led to heat victory from fifth on the grid, and he continued that consistency across Saturday and Sunday to qualify fourth.

Those results led to Timmy and Kevin sharing the front row of Semi Final 2, with the pair finishing where they started and setting up a thrilling Final battle with title rival Andreas Bakkerud, who had taken the Top Qualifier spot.

Another fantastic start from second on the grid propelled Timmy to the lead by turn one, a position he held until the chequered flag. Kevin was a little less fortunate, trapped in the midfield squeeze that dropped him down to last at turn one. A valiant recovery ensured he finished in fourth place at the flag.

Timmy now has a one-point lead in the drivers’ championship over Bakkerud, while Kevin remains a strong contender in third, only eight points behind his older brother.

Thanks to both drivers’ incredible consistency throughout the year, Team HANSEN MJP needs only eight points at the season finale in South Africa to win the teams’ championship, having further extended its advantage over nearest rival GRX in Latvia.

WORLD RX OF LATVIA RESULTS :

1st – Timmy Hansen

Qualifying 1   –  7th
Qualifying 2   –  DNF
Qualifying 3   –  1st
Qualifying 4   –  1st
Semi-Final 2 –  1st
Final – 1st

4rd – Kevin Hansen

Qualifying 1   –3th
Qualifying 2   –  7th
Qualifying 3   –  10th
Qualifying 4   –  5th
Semi-Final 2 –  2rd
Final – 4rd

TALKING POINTS

You can’t keep a good man down. Timmy won every single session in which he raced on Sunday after being down in P15 the day before.

Timmy is guaranteed to finish the 2019 World RX season as the only back-to-back round winner, following his France win with victory in Latvia. He remains the only multiple winner this year too.

Kevin “lost” the grid draw lottery and ended up choosing his grid slot last for the second consecutive weekend. Nonetheless, he still ran in the top five during qualifying all weekend.

This is the first time in World RX history that three drivers have gone to the final round still able to win the championship. The last time that the World RX title race went to the final round was 2015, when one of the two title protagonists was Timmy Hansen.

The big number

13

The number of positions Timmy gained in qualifying, following his Q2 retirement with a broken wheel.

TIMMY HANSEN

“It was tough yesterday. First of all we were very disappointed, but then you can either decide to be angry or to be happy. We came together, we had nice evening and this morning we played some nice music. Everybody was pumped, everyone kept believing that if we made the perfect day today, anything can happen, nothing is certain.

“All four of my launches today were really good. To focus exactly on what you need to do and just drive your best in all these circumstances we’re facing with the championship, in the wet as well, after being in such a low position, is a massive win for the team. This really came from the heart, in wanting it and believing in it. To sit here after where I sat yesterday feels amazing. I’m so proud of these guys, of my big family, that they were with me and that we’ve achieved this together.

“I hope that all three of us have a good weekend in South Africa and a fair battle. Let the best man win!”

KEVIN HANSEN

“I have always struggled a bit in Riga but I felt a lot better this year, which was nice. The one time I had a free run was Q1, where I think I made the launch of the weekend! I got a bit stuck the rest of the time but still had very good speed – I just wasn’t able to get any free air.

“We definitely made some big steps on the launches this weekend. That was the key to staying in front and being fourth at the end of qualifying, then second in the Semi Final. We knew that we were too weak in that area and we knew that if we want to win the championship, we would have to improve there.

“A lot can change in six weeks, so we will make sure to stay on top of our game, drive some TitansRX and prepare ourselves for the final showdown. It’s really important to keep the racing up: when everyone goes to Cape Town for Q1, they will not be as fresh and racing-minded as we will be. In total, with 12 qualifying starts – and hopefully four semi-finals and four finals – between now and Cape Town, we will be keeping our race game really strong. ”

THE BOSS – SUSANN HANSEN

“Everybody stepped up their game this weekend. Our crew always take responsibility but with Kenneth busy filming a TV show in Greece, we felt the absence of one member of a very small team not being here. Their extra effort made a big difference.

“When we came back this morning it had started to rain, so it felt like it was a new race, a new beginning after Timmy’s crash yesterday. It felt like a fresh start.

“What we’ve learned from these difficult moments is that when we turn our focus inwards, rather than looking outside, we begin to focus on every detail: what the spotter needs to say, that the mechanics double and triple check every detail on the cars, and the drivers having one more try at finding the best launch setting.

“This result means the world to us. Timmy and Kevin showed so much strength today and knew exactly what to do during such a rollercoaster weekend. I’m so happy for them and for the whole team.”

NEXT ROUND: 
WORLD RX OF SOUTH AFRICA

Killarney Raceway, located on the northern fringes of Cape Town in South Africa, hosts the World RX season finale on 16/17 November.

Like Biķernieki, it’s a purpose-built circuit racing facility that’s been adapted for rallycross, featuring high-grip asphalt. But unlike the Latvian track, it’s a fast, open, and wide circuit that pushes World RX machines to their highest speeds.

There’s an eight-week wait before the World RX titles are decided – so we’re itching to get back on track in Killarney!INCREDIBLE TURNAROUND GIVES TIMMY HANSEN WORLD RX LEAD IN LATVIA