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CITROËN FIGHTS TO SECURE PRECIOUS POINTS WITH THE C3 WRC IN SARDINIA

Although Citroën Total World Rally Team’s chances of a good overall result were compromised on day one, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia confirmed once again that they remain fierce competitors on the Power Stage, grabbing the second fastest time and four bonus points. Meanwhile, Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm made it to the finish in seventh overall, having managed the last two legs admirably.

After making a mistake on day one (SS5) as they attempted to minimise the major disadvantage of running first on Sardinia’s technical and very loose gravel roads, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia – having rejoined under Rally 2 rules on Saturday’s leg – were solely focused on attempting to grab a few bonus points on the Sassari – Argentiera Power Stage during today’s short final leg (41.90km). Once again showing their incredible fighting spirit, the French six-time world champions claimed four points, which means they now lie second in the world championship standings, four points behind the new leader.

Whilst it falls short of Citroën Total World Rally Team’s hopes for this round, the result means that when the championship resumes after the summer break, they will tackle roads in Finland (1-4 August) that have already been cleaned by a competitor. The forthcoming break will undoubtedly be used by the Red Army to redouble its efforts in preparation for the second half of the season.

On gravel, the first leg tends to be decisive because it determines the running order for the rest of the rally, and Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm unfortunately experienced this first hand. They were running in sixth overall and were gradually getting their bearings when they dropped almost 40s when one of their tyres came loose (SS4). They put in a lot of hard work in the C3 WRC to move back up the leaderboard (stage win on SS5, second on SS9, just 0.1s off the pace), but were unable to finish the opening leg any higher than eighth, after also suffering a sensor issue (SS6). In spite of a less than ideal position in the running order on Saturday, they managed to produce a consistent, error-free performance on day two, as they continued to get to grips with the C3 WRC on gravel and regained seventh position when one of the other crews suffered a puncture. They ended the final leg in the same place. This race, which they managed intelligently once they were no longer able to fully express themselves, will undoubtedly help them to begin the next event, their home round in Finland, in the best possible shape.

REACTIONS FROM…

Sébastien Ogier, Citroën Total WRT driver

“Sometimes in motorsport, you have a weekend where  things just don’t go your way and this weekend was clearly one of those. We’ll put it behind us and focus on the future. In running first on the road, the best we could have realistically hoped for would have been to finish around fifth, so my mistakes cost us a few points. But it is still incredibly close in the championship, even though I’m not the kind of person to take any pleasure from the misfortune of others, especially when it’s Ott. I’m now going to have a holiday and recharge my batteries. We’ll be back in Finland and try to do a lot better.”

Esapekka Lappi, Citroën Total WRT driver

“Obviously, it wasn’t quite the result that we were hoping for. The problems we had on the first leg went a long way to determining the rest of our weekend. We weren’t able to perform at our true level given our position in the running order. It was pretty much impossible to make up ground on these roads, where the grip increases so much with each passing car. We also weren’t helped by making the wrong call on tyres on Saturday morning. But at least we made it to the finish. We’ll now get back to work so that we’re in better form for our home round in Finland.”

TWO QUESTIONS FOR PIERRE BUDAR, CITROËN RACING TEAM PRINCIPAL


What is your analysis of this weekend’s race in Sardinia?

Obviously, this isn’t the result we were hoping for, although we knew that running first on the road here, where the roads clean so much, Sébastien and Julien were bound to have their work cut out. We certainly can’t blame them for their mistakes, because such errors are so highly uncharacteristic. And they did a great job on the Power Stage, showing their incredible fighting spirit once again. Esapekka and Janne had a slightly disappointing first half of day one and unfortunately, this had a knock-on effect on the rest of their weekend, forcing them to carve out the racing line for the rest of the field. In Sardinia, it’s a disadvantage that is almost impossible to overcome. However, they managed to cope intelligently with the frustration involved, getting more miles under their belt in the C3 WRC and making it to the finish. They will now look get their season back on track in Finland, where we know they definitely have the potential to do very well.

With the championship so tight, it looks like the summer break may be more work than play…

Yes, Sébastien and Julien’s never say die attitude, combined with the dramatic end to the rally, means that the championship remains wide open. It doesn’t change the way in which we approach our WRC campaign at all, however. We are going to continue to deploy all our forces in the battle! We’re testing next week and one thing’s for sure, we will be redoubling our efforts to try and provide our drivers with the best weapons possible for the second half of the season.

THE HIGHLIGHT OF THE WEEKEND

Described by many observers as being more suited to a cross-country rally given the roughness of the road, the Sassari – Argentiera Power Stage (6.89km) once again saw Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia produce another majestic performance, despite being the first WRC crew to contest the stage.

Sébastien Ogier had predicted that the Power Stage would be very tough, given the extent to which the rough, gravel roads clean and provide more grip to those further down the running order. On these sorts of sandy roads, where ruts can form quickly, the ability to take risks could make all the difference. Sébastien and Julien produced an extremely committed performance, clearly shown in the utter concentration displayed on their faces in the on-board camera footage. Their driving, usually so clean and tidy, was extraordinarily aggressive, but their approach paid dividends at the finish! Only Andreas Mikkelsen, who started five places further down the running order, managed to go faster by just over two seconds. These hard-fought four points may yet prove decisive at the end of the season…

FINAL PROVISIONAL STANDINGS

1- Sordo / Del Barrio (Hyundai i20 WRC) 3h32’27’’2
2- Suninen / Lehtinen (Ford Fiesta WRC) +13’’7
3- Mikkelsen / Jaeger (Hyundai i20 WRC) +32’’6
4- Evans / Martin (Ford Fiesta WRC) +33’’5
5- Tänak / Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) +1’30’’1
6- Neuville / Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) +2’06’’7
7- Lappi / Ferm (Citroën C3 WRC) + 2’59’’6
8- Meeke / Marshall (Toyota Yaris WRC) +4’40’’1
42- Ogier / Ingrassia (Citroën C3 WRC) +1h22’58’’5

DRIVERS’ WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP

1- Ott Tänak – 150 points
2- Sébastien Ogier – 146 points
3- Thierry Neuville – 143 points
4- Elfyn Evans – 78 points
5- Teemu Suninen – 62 points
6- Kris Meeke – 60 points
7- Andreas Mikkelsen – 56 points
8- Dani Sordo – 52 points
9- Esapekka Lappi – 40 points
10- Jari-Matti Latvala – 40 points
*Subject to publication of the standings by the FIA

MANUFACTURERS’ WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP

1- Hyundai WRT – 242 points
2- Toyota Gazoo Racing – 198 points
3- Citroën Total WRT – 170 points
4- M-Sport Ford WRT – 152 points
* Subject to publication of the standings by the FIA

KEVIN HANSEN STORMS FROM THE BACK TO GRAB PODIUM FINISH IN HELL

Hell, 16 June 2019 – Kevin Hansen went from the back row of the World RX of Norway Final to score a thrilling podium finish in Hell, going toe-to-toe with his championship rivals.

Team HANSEN MJP leaves Hell still leading both championships, with Timmy Hansen a single point ahead of Kevin in the drivers’ championship, while both drivers contribute to an 18 point advantage in the teams’ championship.

A tricky start on Saturday, where both Timmy and Kevin were repeatedly stuck in traffic, was turned around on Sunday morning with a 1-2 finish in Qualifying 3. Another strong run from both in Qualifying 4 put them on the first and second row of the grid respectively for Semi Final 2.

But there was a plot twist: a sudden downpour turned what had been a dry and sunny weekend into a wet weather Semi Final. With low grip on the front row, Timmy bogged down and dropped to last, mounting a heroic comeback and almost grabbing third place.

Timmy was beaten to that position by Kevin, whose late joker lap paid off and put him just in front of his older brother. A brilliant start from the back row in the Final put Kevin up to second place at the start, which briefly became first by passing Kevin Abbring for the lead.

Kevin dropped only one place when taking his joker lap and secured a very hard-fought second place, after a defensive masterclass over eventual winner Niclas Grönholm. He fell behind only due to a one second penalty for Kevin’s pass on Grönholm during the first lap in an otherwise faultless performance.

WORLD RX OF NORWAY RESULTS 

 

6th – Timmy Hansen

Qualifying 1   –  4th
Qualifying 2   –  6th
Qualifying 3   –  1st
Qualifying 4   –  2nd
Semi-Final –  4th
Final  

7th – Kevin Hansen

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

TALKING POINTS

Both drivers’ pace was great in the dry after an improvement in set-up late on Saturday. But that effort went out the window in the Semi Finals when it started raining heavily!

Hell lived up to its reputation. After the rain came down, the middle and back rows of the grid provided the best launch, while the front row was almost the worst place to start.

After picking up a position in Abu Dhabi due to another driver’s penalty, Kevin would be demoted a place in a similar manner. It’s all square now!

The big number

3

The number of qualifying sessions this weekend where Timmy Hansen set the fastest lap, including the outright fastest lap of the weekend.

TIMMY HANSEN

“Though the Semi Final didn’t go our way, we scored some good points this weekend. We had a strong qualifying and that built a good foundation in terms of points. We kept ourselves in a good position before the rain came.

“The rain before the Finals was a big shock and turned everything upside down. We went through the entire season without wet conditions and suddenly it was fully wet. That meant we had to guess a few things and so we didn’t choose the right settings for the launch. I had a poor start and tried everything I could to get past, but couldn’t find a gap.

“Having Niclas back for this weekend was good to see, even if he beat us this time! It was nice to have a really good challenge through the weekend. If it had stayed dry we could have had a real battle on our hands. It was just not my turn today. I did my best, but today was not my day.”

KEVIN HANSEN

“The first day was tricky. The speed was there but we had to start from the outside, which is really tricky in Hell. For the second day we adopted some of Timmy’s set-up, made some changes, and that seemed to make a difference.

“Looking at what happened when the rain came, starting from the second row for the Semi Final was a lot better than the first, so I was very happy to start there! We pulled off some amazing launches in the wet.

“I had to drive carefully in the Final as there was wiper fluid spraying everywhere inside the car! That also meant I couldn’t clear mud from the windscreen too. But we managed to cope with that well. Gronholm behind me pushed so hard but we kept our cool, did our thing and kept the grip all the way. With a good joker lap we managed to finish P2 but then got a penalty and were P3 instead. It’s not nice when you get a penalty but in the end I think it was a fair decision.”

THE BOSS – KENNETH HANSEN

“It was a bit of a mixed weekend for us. Saturday wasn’t ideal with a few mistakes from us as a team and some problems for the drivers out on the track. Sunday went much better but in the end, it wasn’t the result we wanted.

“Looking at the positives, we did learn a lot. We expected to have a little more speed here but we’ve learned a lot and there are some things we’ll do differently for the future, especially the next round at Höljes, our home event.”

NEXT ROUND: 
WORLD RX OF NORWAY

It’s an exciting time of year for Team HANSEN MJP, as the team heads to its home round of the championship at Höljes. Team principal Kenneth Hansen is the most successful driver of all time here, taking five Division 1 European RX wins behind the wheel. Kevin also scored a Euro RX win here in 2016, but the team is still seeking an elusive first win in World RX after the nearest of misses in 2015. Hopefully 2019 will be our year!

Endurance Oschersleben Eight Hours

New leader

Second in the Eight Hours of Oschersleben, the Kawasaki team has recovered first place in the overall classification of the Endurance World Championship. The fight for the title will be in one month on the Suzuka circuit.

Forced to retire after less than two hours of racing in Slovakia, Gilles Stafler’s team-mates were eager to redeem themselves for the Eight Hours of Oschersleben, penultimate round of the World Endurance Championship. The Kawasaki riders were up to the task. In the free practice sessions, Jeremy Guarnoni, Erwan Nigon and David Checa already stood out by taking pole position. “Even if it is not decisive for an endurance race, the first place on the starting grid now includes five points for the team who win it,” recalled Gilles Stafler. And when you’re ten points behind the new leader, namely the Suzuki Endurance Racing Team (SERT), since the last race in Slovakia, it’s worth making the effort during the qualifying session. Then they had to transform the test results into race results. Which Guarnoni and Nigon did brilliantly. The two Frenchmen rode the stints one after the other. A strategy that paid off as they managed to get the Kawasaki # 11 onto the second step of the podium. “This weekend David was as fast as Jeremy and Erwan, but his riding style is unfortunately more fuel-hungry,” explained the boss of the SRC. “If had rode the race it would have cost us an extra refueling break and we couldn’t afford it.” In Germany, the goal of the Kawasaki team was to try to recover the lead in the championship from the Suzuki Endurance Racing Team (SERT). “When Gregg Black fell, we didn’t take any chances, we copied Suzuki’s style of racing,” Stafler continued. Only tenth under the checkered flag, the crew of SERT handed over the first place in the overall classification to the SRC Kawasaki team. The boss of the Greens is now hoping to take part in the final of the championship at Suzuka to win the world title, backed by his five-point lead.

MotoGP World Championship – Italian Grand Prix

Márquez makes it

In the wake of his victory at Le Mans, Álex Márquez won a second race in a row, this time in Italy. A series that has allowed the Spaniard to return to second place in the overall standings, two points behind the leader.

Álex Márquez is definitely back on track. No matter he had not won since the Japanese Grand Prix 2017, in France and Italy the former Moto3 world champion chalked up two wins in a row. In 2014, then on the road to his title, he achieved the same performance by winning in Barcelona and Assen. “I rode the race I needed,” said the Marc VDS rider. “I was smart enough to wait, and managed the situation by letting Lüthi and Schrotter ride in front at the start of the race. And when I overtook them I got back into the pace I had this morning in the warm-up. The strategy worked. Little by little I consolidated my lead. I am very pleased because the team has done a great job again. Last year we had trouble adjusting the bike to this circuit. This year we’ve had two wins in a row, but we must not slacken. Let’s continue to work like we’re doing because the championship is still very long.” Victim of a collision at the start of the race with Lecuona and Di Giananntonio, Vierge managed to climb back from from sixteenth to twelfth place. “I lost my pace in the second part of the race,” lamented Márquez’ teammate. Tech 3 side, Philipp Oettl and Marco Bezzecchi had dribbling problems and had to settle for 21e and 23th positions on the finish line. In MotoGP, Oliveira and Syahrin were no happier. The Portuguese rider suffered from a lack of power control and finished sixteenth, while the Malaysian, who showed encouraging signs of progress during the practice test sessions, had to give up after several heavy slides forward that put an end to his ambitions for this race.

The Championship

With two wins in a row, Álex Márquez returns to second place in the overall Moto2 standings just two points behind leader Lorenzo Baldassari. Xavi Vierge remains in eleventh position. For Marco Bezzecchi and Philipp Oettl, the points counter still reads zero. In MotoGP, Miguel Oliveira has lost a place, slipping from eighteenth to nineteenth. Hafizh Syarhin has lost two and is now twenty-third.

CITROËN POCKET YET ANOTHER PODIUM!

With their chances of pushing for the win compromised by their successive road positions, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia nonetheless refused to give up. Their never-say-die attitude was justly rewarded with their sixth podium of the season, the Citroën Total World Rally Team’s seventh top-three finish in as many rounds. Equally deserving of a good result, Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm were unfortunately caught out in the closing stages with the finish in sight.

With today’s final leg covering just fifty-two kilometres and held on stages well known to all the crews, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia’s chances of making up the 11.8s gap to the podium were slim. Citroën Total WRT’s standard bearer focused on the Power Stage, and the bonus points available, whilst remaining ready to pounce if a rival crew should make a mistake under pressure. And that is exactly what happened on the final stage, enabling the French crew to move up to third position. They therefore secured their sixth podium of the season – and Citroën Total WRT’s seventh – after yet another very intelligently crafted performance. With the five extra points earned for winning the Power Stage, Sébastien and Julien continue to lead the world championship.

Leaders coming into the Portugal round, and therefore forced to run first on the road, the six-time world champions feared they would suffer here, given the very loose, dry conditions seen in recce. They managed nonetheless to produce a heroic performance on day one, reaching the end of day service in fifth place, just 3s off the podium, having in particular successfully gambled on tyre choice. However, the difference in road position compared to the other podium contenders was so significant on Saturday that it prevented Sébastien and Julien from fighting in even conditions. They therefore began today’s final leg 11.8s behind the third-placed crew.

Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm, who were just 2.3s off fourth place after SS2, had also made a good start to the rally. Unfortunately, one of their tyres came loose on landing a jump (SS3) and the pair found themselves down in eighth overall by the end of day one. They then produced an impressive performance on Saturday’s leg to climb to fifth overall, including three fourth fastest times, despite having spent two thirds of the day running in a very tough second position on the road. Unfortunately, a minor error at the start of Sunday’s leg (SS16) proved to be extremely costly. The pair turned slightly too sharply into a right-hand hairpin and ended up spinning and then rolling their C3 WRC. As they attempted to defend their fifth place on the next stage, they clipped a bank, damaged the rear left-hand suspension and had to retire within sight of the finish.

REACTIONS FROM…

Sébastien Ogier, Citroën Total WRT driver “I didn’t think we could score twenty points this weekend. Although we never had a chance of winning the rally with our position in the running order, we gave it absolutely everything, regardless of the situation. So, to that extent, this result is just rewards. In truth, I was hoping not to be first on the road in Sardinia, but every point counts at the end of the season. I’m pleased to see that we were competitive on the Power Stage, which was more or less the only stage of the weekend where we had the same grip conditions as our rivals. That means we have also progressed in terms of performance although it was difficult to show it, given the circumstances.”

Esapekka Lappi, Citroën Total WRT driver “After our roll, the car wasn’t too badly damaged, it was just missing the rear spoiler. I thought I had a good rhythm on the following stage but I was slightly too optimistic on a right hander over a crest and I hit a bank, which caused a puncture and then damaged the suspension. There were too many kilometres left to cover with our makeshift repairs. I’m really very sorry for the whole team, who deserved better.”

TWO QUESTIONS FOR PIERRE BUDAR, CITROËN RACING TEAM PRINCIPAL

Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia once again showed superb race management this weekend…

Yes, absolutely! Given, their road position on day one, but also throughout the weekend, they clearly did a great job on these roads, where cleaning is such a major factor. Despite not being able to fight on even terms, they managed to maintain the pressure and remain ready to seize any opportunities that came their way. Their determination and resilience were rewarded with another podium finish and a handsome tally of points for the championship. They had a good feeling in the C3 WRC, which also confirms that we have made significant progress with the car and are moving in the right direction. We’re going to keep working even harder because we’ll have to deal with the disadvantage of cleaning the road again in Sardinia.

Despite their retirement today, there some promising signs in the performance of Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm…

We’re obviously disappointed they didn’t make it to the end of the rally after two mistakes, especially after such a fine day yesterday. After very good pre-event testing, during which we identified the differential set-up that suits them the best, they were really on their way towards putting together a decent performance, so I hope they can build on this in Sardinia. We are now going to work together and support them so that they can manage this kind of situation better in the future.

THE HIGHLIGHT OF THE WEEKEND

Thomas Breton, race engineer to Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia, looks back on the crew’s incredible performance during the first leg, which they ended in a somewhat unexpected fifth place…

“Given the extent to which we expected the road to clean this weekend, we had focused on maximising the balance of the car in low-grip conditions during pre-event testing. Apart from on Friday’s opening stage, where they were probably getting a feel for the loose conditions, Seb and Julien were genuinely incredible. It is also worth mentioning that on the first stage, Seb had accidentally switched to road mode and by the time he realised this, he had probably lost a couple of seconds. The afternoon loop went particularly well, since they were only two tenths per kilometre off the stage-winning times. Tyre choice undoubtedly also played a role in their performance. Due to running first on the road, and also the fact that Seb is a driver who really looks after his tyres, we opted for a different strategy to the other drivers in the afternoon. We kept two Michelin mediums, despite the high temperatures, where all the other crews went with five hard tyres. Having the right strategy is one thing, of course, but you still have to deliver! And that’s precisely what he did. The data shows that Seb just doesn’t overdo it when there’s no need and his approach paid dividends in the times.”

FINAL PROVISIONAL STANDINGS

1 -Tänak / Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) 3h20’22’’8
2 -Neuville / Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) +15’’9 
3 -Ogier / Ingrassia (Citroën C3 WRC) +57’’1
4 -Suninen / Salminen (Ford Fiesta WRC) +2’41’’5
5 -Evans / Martin (Ford Fiesta WRC) + 7’08’’3
6 -Rovanperä / Haltunen (Skoda Fabia R5) + 10’34’’2
7 -Latvala / Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) + 11’28’’2
8 -Kopecky / Dresler (Skoda Fabia R5) + 11’41’’9

DRIVERS’ WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP

1 -Sébastien Ogier – 142 points
2 -Thierry Neuville – 132 points
3 -Elfyn Evans – 65 points
4 -Kris Meeke – 56 points
5 -Teemu Suninen – 44 points
6 -Sébastien Loeb – 39 points
7 -Jari-Matti Latvala – 38 points
8 -Andreas Mikkelsen – 36 points
9 -Esapekka Lappi – 34 points

MANUFACTURERS’ WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP

1 -Hyundai WRT – 202 points
2 -Toyota Gazoo Racing – 182 points
3 -Citroën Total WRT – 158 points
4 -M-Sport Ford WRT – 122 points

JEAN-ÉRIC VERGNE SECURES THIRD IN BERLIN TO EXTEND THE LEAD IN BOTH CHAMPIONSHIPS

DS TECHEETAH drivers Jean-Éric Vergne and André Lotterer pulled out all the stops in today’s race in the German capital, climbing through the pack towards the front from their start positions of P8 and P21 respectively. Jean-Éric finished the tenth round of the 2018/2019 ABB FIA Formula E Championship third, earning 15 points to extend a further championship lead in the fight for the Drivers’ title.

Despite a stellar drive up to P11 from the back after a mistake in qualifying, team-mate André suffered a battery issue and was forced to retire his car. The results from today have further propelled DS TECHEETAH in the Teams’ Championship title who are now 25 points ahead of its nearest rival.

Jean-Éric also leads the voestalpine European races with André in second.

Mark Preston, DS TECHEETAH Team Principal: “Our drivers presented another display of their incredible race craft today and we’re nothing but proud of them for their efforts. It’s great for both the team and for Jean-Éric to extend the lead in both championships even if it’s unfortunate for André to have been forced to retire after the battery issue. We’re quite confident he could have gone into the points which would have been a nice for him after this morning’s disappointment in the qualifying session where he missed the deadline to set his qualifying lap with one tenth of a second. “We’ve got a good feeling going into Bern in the lead of the Teams’ title and with our drivers in first and third, there’s everything left to play for.”

Xavier Mestelan Pinon, DS Performance Director:“Formula E has once again offered us a fantastic race full of twists and turns. At the end of this wonderful comeback for Jean-Éric, who once again finished on the podium, we are pleased to still be leading both championships. Today was a great result for DS Automobiles and the team here in Germany!”

Jean-Éric Vergne, P3: “Good day in Berlin today, I finished P3 and I’m still leading the championship. A massive thanks to the team as they worked really late to find the issue that we had on the car yesterday and to fix it for today. I had an amazing car and it was great fun to start from eighth and work myself up to the podium position. I absolutely loved it.”

André Lotterer, DNF: “It’s fair to say that today wasn’t the best day of my career. The race weekend started great yesterday when I was fastest in the practice session, but we made a mistake in the qualifying session today, meaning that I started from the back in the race.”

MotoGP World Championship – French Grand Prix

Márquez wins in Le Mans

Deprived of victory since October 2017, Álex Márquez found the road back to success at the Grand Prix de France held on the Bugatti circuit.

“I’m so happy! It tastes wonderful to win again after waiting so long.”

At the finish of the fifth race of the season, Álex Márquez was thrilled. Not having won since the Japanese Grand Prix in 2017, the former Moto3 world champion returned to Le Mans and got right back on the right track thanks to a judicious choice of rear tire on the starting grid.

“A team victory that rewards the work we’ve all been doing since the winter tests,” said Márquez.

Qualified on the first row of the starting grid, the Catalan took control of the race in the fourth lap. And then never let go.

“I had seven good first laps and from then on I managed to stay focused. I tried not to think too much, just to ride well. “

Fifth under the checkered flag, Xavi Vierge was also satisfied with his Grand Prix de France. “We’re making progress each time,” grinned the Spaniard.

“I hope I’ll be riding to win very soon.”

On the Tech 3 side, Marco Bezzecchi and Philipp Oettl were eighteenth and nineteenth, just ahead of Jorge Martin, another KTM rider. Hafizh Syahrin and Miguel Oliveira, Hervé Poncharal’s two MotoGP riders, both scored points, finishing in fourteenth and fifteenth positions. A first this season for the French team.

The Championship

Thanks to his victory in the Sarthe region, Álex Márquez has climbed back to fourth place in the overall standings, just fourteen points behind leader Lorenzo Baldassari, who fell in Le Mans. Xavi Vierge has moved up from fourteenth to eleventh place. In MotoGP, Miguel Oliveira has slipped to eighteenth place while Hafizh Syahrin, who pocketed his first two points of the season, has entered the standings in twenty-first place.

Endurance – Eight Hours of Slovakia Ring

Tough retirement

Three weeks after winning the 24 Heures Motos on the Le Mans circuit, the Kawasaki SRC team was forced to retire in Slovakia. David Checa, Jeremy Guarnoni and Erwan Nigon are now in second place in the EWC Championship.

For the team of Gilles Stafler, the races follow on from each other but they don’t look like. Super winners in the Sarthe region of France, David Checa, Jeremy Guarnoni and Erwan Nigon had to throw in the towel after less than two hours of racing on the Slovakia Ring. In practice, the Kawasaki # 11 qualified for fifth place on the starting grid. “The conditions were very difficult,” explained David Checa. “With rain, cold, and a blacktop that constantly changed from one minute to the next… You had to be on the track with the right tires at the right time.” Starting in the leading group, Jeremy Guarnoni rode a good first relay. “The weather was a lot warmer at the start of the race,” said the Kawasaki rider. “I quickly understood that the first hours would be harder for us than for our direct opponents. So I finished my first relay on a regular pace but without taking any risks. We were determined to bide our time, knowing that we would be much better at mid-race.” That was the plan. Unfortunately, the Kawasaki SRC team never had the time to carry it out. Shortly after taking over the handlebars of number 11 from Jérémy Guarnoni, David Checa had to return to his team’s garage. “We had a problem with the engine that we’ll have to analyze when we return to the workshop,” commented Gilles Stafler. “But that’s racing; you have to know how to accept this kind of setback.” Despite the retirement, the Kawasaki team retains second place in the overall standings just ten points behind the Suzuki Endurance Racing Team (SERT). Before the final of the EWC Championship in Japan at the end of July, the next race in Germany will be decisive for Gilles Stafler’s staff.

THE C3 WRC SECURES ITS SIXTH CONSECUTIVE PODIUM AS OGIERINGRASSIA FINISH AS RUNNERS-UP!

Once again among the leaders on their debut outing in Chile, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia continued their impressive series of podiums to finish as runners-up after an incredibly intense battle in their C3 WRC, following the improvements made to the car by Citroën Total World Rally Team since Argentina. This result sees them reclaim the championship lead. Increasingly comfortable as the rally progressed, Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm ended sixth overall, completing a fine all-round performance by the team.

With more narrow and fast stages to experience for the first time at full pace, today’s final leg was not short on difficulties, but it was made even more taxing by the fine drizzle that had fallen overnight, leaving roads significantly damp. In these testing conditions, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia saw the third-placed crew trim their advantage to just 1.1s on the opening stage. The six-time world champions then produced the kind of performance of which they alone are capable. They pushed throughout the full 18.06 kilometres of Lircay, the rally’s narrowest stage, to claim their second stage win of the weekend, 4.2s ahead of their rival for second place. The French crew then managed the gap to the end, finishing second overall and thus securing their fifth podium in six rounds, following wins at Monte-Carlo and in Mexico, second place in Corsica and third in Argentina.

Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia also collected four bonus points in the Power Stage, meaning they head back to Europe from Chile with a ten-point lead in the championship standings. This sixth podium finish in as many rounds this season, combined with the sixth position of Lappi-Ferm, also means the Citroën Total World Rally Team stays within touch of second place in the manufacturers’ standings.

On stages in the wooded sections, left damp by rain before the start, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia immediately settled into second position on day one. And although the morning of day two proved more difficult, they were able – in conjunction with the team – to respond perfectly in the afternoon loop, grabbing a stage win and a third fastest time on their way to doubling their advantage over the third-placed crew. Unfortunately, they were hampered by the late arrival of fog and rain on the final stage of the day, allowing their rivals back into the mix ahead of the short final leg.

After a cautious, focused start to the race, Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm had closed to within 10.3s of fifth place with the third fastest time on yesterday’s final stage. They confirmed their growing confidence and improved form today, grabbing a fifth and a fourth fastest time. Their splits on the Power Stage were also very promising until a minor error dashed their hopes of any bonus points. They nonetheless finished sixth overall. They can take heart from an encouraging result, one which they will hope to build on, so they can start the next round in Portugal in the better shape.

Engaged in a close fight for the WRC2 Pro class win until a minor brake issue cost them time on Saturday morning’s loop, Mads Østberg and Torstein Eriksen had to settle for second place in the end. The Norwegians nonetheless claimed twelve stage wins out a total of sixteen, demonstrating the competitiveness of the C3 R5 once again.

REACTIONS FROM…

Sébastien Ogier, Citroën Total WRT driver “This podium further confirms our very good start to the season. We have been very consistent and the points are good for the championship. It wasn’t an easy weekend, however, even though things moved in the right direction after Saturday’s mid-leg service. We got the best out of the C3 WRC once again. We now need to develop the car even more so that we can be more competitive in low-grip situations.”

Esapekka Lappi, Citroën Total WRT driver “We had a difficult start, but we managed to make progress bit by bit. We also managed to improve the set-up of the C3 WRC with the team and our pace started to be pretty decent today. I really hope that we can keep going forward like this in our forthcoming tests. In any case, it ended up being a positive weekend in terms of my confidence.”

TWO QUESTIONS FOR PIERRE BUDAR, CITROËN RACING TEAM PRINCIPAL

What is your assessment of this sixth round?
Clearly, it was a positive weekend, with the fine second place secured by Sébastien and Julien. They produced another attacking performance, on these totally new stages, which needed quite a bit of getting used to. Their perseverance was rewarded with a good result that sees them back at the top of the standings. The other cause for satisfaction is the feeling that Esapekka and Janne have found again. They put together a smart, mature performance to finish the race, after gradually building their pace. It certainly augurs well for the rest of the year, especially as we now start a run of events that they know better. I think we also showed that we were able to react and introduce a few minor upgrades, which worked, in the fairly narrow window available between Argentina and Chile. Having said that, we are fully aware that these changes are not enough as yet to fight with the fastest crews in all conditions, and we are going to step up our efforts in order to keep improving.

What did you think of this first edition of Rally Chile in the WRC?
I think the event has been a successful addition to the championship! Having driven on the stages in recce, I have to say they really are very attractive. The roads are fast, undulating but also highly varied. We have also been very warmly welcomed by the local fans. They were especially noisy and enthusiastic at the ceremonial start and at the finish, but were also out in big numbers on the stages and in the service park.

THE HIGHLIGHT OF THE WEEKEND

In finishing 4.2s ahead and all but securing second place on Sunday morning on Lircay (SS14), the narrowest stage of the rally, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia once again showed their ability to take incredibly precise pace notes, as well as their talent for striking at just the right moment. The number 1 C3 WRC driver explained…
“Obviously, with Julien, we give our all on every stage, that goes without saying. Although we’re not always able to compete with the fastest crews on technical stages and in low-grip conditions, I knew that SS14 and SS15 were the kind of stages that suited us best. They were fast – in fact, the average speeds were above 100kph for the first time this weekend – and we know that the C3 WRC performs well in conditions like this so we couldn’t afford to miss this opportunity! Especially as we had just dropped four seconds on the opening stage of the day. We had to hit back and that’s exactly what we did.”

FINAL PROVISIONAL STANDINGS

1. Tänak / Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) 3:15:53.8
2. Ogier / Ingrassia (Citroën C3 WRC) +23.1
3. Loeb / Elena (Hyundai i20 WRC) +30.2
4. Evans / Martin (Ford Fiesta WRC) +1:36.7
5. Suninen / Salminen (Ford Fiesta WRC) +3:15.6
6. Lappi / Ferm (Citroën C3 WRC) +3:45.4
7. Mikkelsen / Jaeger (Hyundai i20 WRC) +4:39.0
8. Meeke / Marshall (Toyota Yaris WRC) + 7:33.4
9. Rovanperä / Halttunen (Skoda Fabia R5) + 7:52.5
10.Østberg / Eriksen (Citroën C3 R5) +8:16.1

DRIVERS’ WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP

1. Sébastien Ogier – 122 points
2. Ott Tänak – 112 points
3. Thierry Neuville – 110 points
4. Kris Meeke – 59 points
5. Elfyn Evans – 55 points
6. Sébastien Loeb – 39 points
7. Andreas Mikkelsen – 36 points
8. Esapekka Lappi – 34 points
9. Jari-Matti Latvala – 32 points
10. Teemu Suninen – 30 points

MANUFACTURERS’ WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP

1. Hyundai WRT – 178 points
2. Toyota Gazoo Racing – 149 points
3. Citroën Total WRT – 143 points
4. M-Sport Ford WRT – 100 points

Superbike World Championship – Italy

Rea rides to victory

Regularly beaten by Alvaro Bautista since the start of the season, Jonathan Rea road back to victory in Italy, clocking up his first two wins of the season on the Imola circuit.

Not quite deliverance, but Jonathan Rea made no attempt to hide his joy on the Imola circuit. Tired of finishing behind Alvaro Bautista’s Ducati since the opening of the championship in Australia, the four-time world champion was eager to react in Italy. He did it by brilliantly riding his way to victory, with a first success on Saturday and another on Sunday morning in the ten-lap sprint. “I feel better and better on the bike and we were really on the ball this weekend,” commented Jonathan Rea. “I only regret the third race had to be cancelled, but the weather conditions hardly left any choice to the organizers. I am very happy to have won in Italy.”
As in the Netherlands, the schedule for the weekend had to been shortened, this time because of the rain. Whatever, Imola is definitely a good track for Kawasaki.
In 2010, Tom Sykes won the Japanese brand’s first pole position on this circuit. And since 2013, Kawasaki have chalked up nine victories on their kill count. This year, Toprak Razgatlioglu added his touch by making to the podium on Saturday afternoon before finishing seventh on Sunday morning. Leon Haslam came in fifth and sixth, while in Supersport, Hikari Okubo posted the best result of his career with a well-earned fourth-place finish. In the fight for the podium, Lucas Mahias unfortunately fell after hitting an opponent who had just missed a gear in front of him. The former world champion was nevertheless able to start off again, making it to the finish in eighth place.

The Championship

Regularly present on the podium since the first race at Phillip Island, Jonathan Rea is still in second place overall and has even benefited from his first two wins of the season to reduce Alvaro Bautista’s lead to forty-three points. Leon Haslam stays in fifth place while Toprak Razgatlioglu has moved up to eighth place. In Supersport, Hikari Okubo has also wins a place, and is now fourth with fifty points while Lucas Mahias remains seventh with forty points.