Category Archives: Saisons

The Alpine Elf Europa Cup heads towards 2019!

Following its successful two-year renaissance, the Alpine Elf Europa Cup is planning a promising 2020 season with a revitalised calendar and new incentives to offer drivers unique opportunities to move up the motor racing pyramid.

A month after the season-finale at Circuit Paul Ricard, preparations have already begun for the 2020 Alpine Elf Europa Cup.

More than a dozen drivers have expressed their intention to return to take their revenge, like Marc Guillot and Junior category winner Mattéo Herrero. Gentleman drivers like Pierre Macchi and Marc Sevestre have also stated their desire to show the progress they’ve made in this ever-competitive field set to be reinforced with new French and foreign teams who want join the action.

One week before the prize-giving ceremony last Friday in Paris, some returned to the track at Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours for two days of testing, joined by new faces at the wheel of the Alpine A110 Cups like the promising Lilou Wadoux.

At the same time, Alpine and Signatech, the organizers of the Alpine Elf Europa Cup have revealed the key points for the 2020 season.

THE 2020 CALENDAR REVEALED

An FIA sanctioned international series, the Alpine Elf Europa Cup has been a big hit with motorsport fans in its first two seasons supporting the renaissance of the Alpine brand.

The 2020 season will make the most of this asset with a 12-race, six-round calendar featuring on the same bill with major professional championships.

The season will, once again, kick-off at Circuit Paul-Armagnac de Nogaro (France) followed by Circuit Spa-Francorchamps (Belgium), before heading to the first of two new stops on the calendar: Misano (Italy).

After the summer break, the action will resume in Barcelona (Spain), then at Circuit Paul Ricard (France) before an all-new season-finale for the Alpine A110 Cups at Portimao (Portugal).

The weekend format will also return with an extremely advantageous total track time of three hours while two drivers can still share the same Alpine A110 Cup at the same meeting.

A MORE COMPLETE ALPINE A110 CUP

For 2020, Signatech will next year introduce two technical updates designed to increase customer and owner satisfaction to the highest level.

As with the GT4 version, the Alpine A110 Cup will feature a major gearbox improvement to increase reliability and offer the possibility to compete in endurance races outside the Alpine Elf Europa Cup. In addition, updated engine wiring will be deployed to include “military” quality elements.

The price of a new Alpine A110 Cup will remain at 115,000€ +vat, to which 5,000€ will be deducted if it enters the 2020 season.

ATTRACTIVE PRIZE PACKAGE

Once again, next year, 160,000€ will be up for grabs throughout the season across the three categories: General, Junior and Gentleman.

The 2020 Alpine Elf Europa Cup title winner will receive an Alpine A110 road car or a prize valued at 50,000€ +vat if he wants to defend his crown or move up the racing ladder behind the wheel of an Alpine A110 GT4.

The highest placed driver in the Junior category will have the choice between a test with the Signatech Alpine Elf LMP2 team and the Alpine A470 or a prize of 20,000€ to fight for the overall title in 2021. The Gentleman category laureate will receive a test in the Alpine A110 GT4 and a 10,000€ bonus.

Furthermore, entered drivers will receive a package of products and services included in their entry: driver suit and Alpine apparel, access to the Alpine Elf Europa Cup hospitality area, communication, technical support from Signatech (chassis), Oreca (engine) and Michelin (tyres), the presence of a spare parts shop at the events…

With more than 100 days to go before the start of the 2020 season, everything has come together to propose a more competitive campaign with the emergence of specialists and the arrival of new competitors determined to win with Alpine!

2020 Calendar

April 11-13: Nogaro (France) – FFSA GT
June 5-7: Spa-Francorchamps (Belgium) – GT Open
July 3-5: Misano (Italy) – GT World Challenge Europe
September 4-5: Barcelona-Catalunya (Spain) – 24 Hours of Barcelona
October 2-4: Le Castellet (France) – FFSA GT
October 16-18: Portimao (Portugal) – ELMS

Schedule

Free practices: 2×40 minutes per meeting
Qualifying sessions: 2×20 minutes per meeting
Races: 2×25 minutes + 1 lap per meeting
Total track time: 3 hours per race weekend

In numbers

Alpine A110 Cup : 115,000 € +vat 1
2020 season entry fee: 20,000€ +vat 2
Entry per event: 4,000€ +vat
Bonuses and awards: 160,000€

1 A 5,000€ spare parts package offered with the 2020 season entry.
2 2,000€ deducted if three rounds minimum have been contested in 2019.

Alpine A110 Cup

Weight: 1,050 kg
Chassis: Aluminium monocoque
Engine: 4 cylinders 1.8L 16v with 270hp
Gearbox: 3MO Sequential 6-speed
Differential: Self-locking limited slip
Wheels: Aluminium, 9×18’’ (Front) and 10×18’’ (Rear)
Tyres: Michelin 25-64×18 (Front) and 27-65×18 (Rear)
Brakes: 6 Brembo calipers (Front) and 4 calipers (Rear), ABS Bosch
Safety: Custom seat with Sabelt six-point roll cage
Steering wheel: XAP with integrated paddle shifter
Tank: FIA FT3 homologated, 95 litres
Other: Adjustable traction control

Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS agrees new two-year partnership with Total

The successful partnership between Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS and French energy giant Total will continue in 2020 and 2021 after a new two-year deal was agreed for both the Moto2 World Championship and MotoE World Cup.

Total has worked closely with Marc VDS since it first entered Grand Prix racing back in 2010 in Moto2 but this new agreement extends to the MotoE World Cup, which is the exciting new zero emission series contested for the first time this year.

The support of Total has been a key ingredient in helping the Belgium-based team win three world titles in the Moto2 class with Tito Rabat in 2014, Franco Morbidelli in 2017 and most recently with Alex Márquez in 2019.

The partnership between Total and Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS has not only been a success because of their shared values and professional excellence, but they have collaborated closely together in research and development of fuels to keep them at the forefront of competition in Moto2.

The long-standing relationship with Total extends far beyond a typical sponsor agreement, with experience and passion breeding success that everyone will be working immensely hard to replicate in Moto2 and MotoE.

MARC VAN DER STRATEN, Team Owner:

“This new agreement is undoubtedly great news and confirmation that our union with Total is the result of a long and solid relationship between two parties who have learned to know and appreciate each other. The unconditional support for each other over ten years is proof of this. Total has trusted us over the years and we have responded to this trust with three World Championships. It is undoubtedly a pleasure to continue this fruitful relationship with which we hope to continue to add good results.”

PIERRE GAUTIER CALONI, Vice President Total Sponsoring & Motorsport:

“We are delighted to renew our relationship and trust with Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS after ten years of a successful partnership that has resulted in winning three world titles. We share the values of Marc VDS, especially in terms of loyalty and ambition and they are undoubtedly the perfect companion for us in Moto2. In addition, we are doubly pleased as our commitment to Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS is extended to the MotoE category as Total goes beyond the current framework of fuel and lubricant supplier and becomes involved in other areas related to mobility, especially in the electrical sector, prodiving fluids dedicated to hybrid and electric vehicles.”

Moto GP World Championship – Valencia Grand Prix

Endgame in Spain

Two weeks after winning the Moto2 World Championship in Malaysia, Álex Márquez rode the last race of the season in front of his fans. He shone, but he also fell.

Crowned in Sepang, Álex Márquez had only one goal for the last event of the season: to have fun and offer his supporters a final podium. Mission half-accomplished for the new Moto2 world champion. Qualified for the fifth row of the starting grid after difficult free practice sessions, Márquez had climbed back to fifth position when he lost control of the front of his bike on one of the slowest corners of the circuit. “I gave it everything, as I promised I would, but it was not enough,” said the team Marc VDS rider, after starting off again and finishing the race in thirtieth position. “I’m sorry for the team because I made a mistake, but let’s not forget that we are world champions and we have just finished a magnificent season.” Fourth in Sepang, Vierge rode to a well-earned seventh place in front of his home crowd. “I’m happy to end the year with two good results,” said the Catalan. “It’s good for the team and for me because the season has not been easy.” Riding for Tech 3, Marco Bezzecchi crossed the finish line in nineteenth position while Philipp Oettl ranked twenty-sixth. In MotoGP, Iker Lecuona made his debut with the KTM of the French team to replace Miguel Oliveira, injured since the overseas leg of the season and withdrawn for the last race of the season. Nineteenth during the practice test sessions, Lecuona was in twelfth position when he fell just before the halfway mark. Hafyzh Syahrin completed his last race in MotoGP, crossing the finish line in fifteenth place, marking one last point.

The Championship


Although he did not score any points in Valencia, Álex Márquez finished the Moto2 2019 season as world champion, just three points ahead of Brad Binder. Xavi Vierge moved up two more spots to finish the year in thirteenth place with 81 points. Marco Bezzecchi finished twenty-third with 17 points. Philipp Oettl never managed to make it to the top fifteen. In MotoGP, Miguel Oliveira finished seventeenth with 33 points while Hafizh Syahrin finished twenty-third with nine points.

TIMMY HANSEN AND TEAM HANSEN MJP SCORE THRILLING WORLD RX CHAMPIONSHIP DOUBLE

Cape Town, 10 November 2019 – Timmy Hansen and Team HANSEN MJP scored the FIA World Rallycross Championship Drivers and Teams titles respectively in a heart-stopping season finale in South Africa, with Timmy’s title won on a tiebreaker and team-mate Kevin Hansen also finishing third in the world championship.

Let’s watch the best of this glorious week-end!

Timmy extended his championship leader over closest rival Andreas Bakkerud from one point to two heading to the Semi Finals with second place in qualifying, winning Q1 and Q3. A straightforward Semi Final win then put him on the front row alongside Bakkerud for what would transpire to be greatest championship showdown in rallycross history.

Timmy was immediately on the offensive after being beaten to turn one by Bakkerud at the start of the Final, and a mistake by the blue-and-black car at the hairpin opened the door for Timmy to try and pass. An out-of-control Bakkerud then clattered into Timmy and spun him around, with all hope of the title appearing lost.

But as he had done several times earlier this year when the odds had been against him, Timmy regrouped and threw everything he had at getting the result he needed.

CHAMPION

Timmy Hansen
Qualifying 1 : 1st
Qualifying 2 : 9th
Qualifying 3 : 1st
Qualifying 4 : 2nd
Semi-Final 2 : 1st
Final : 4th

3rd

Kevin Hansen
Qualifying 1 : 4th
Qualifying 2 : 6th
Qualifying 3 : 3rd
Qualifying 4 : 4th
Semi-Final 2 : 2nd
Final : 5th

TALKING POINTS

This year’s season finale will go down in history as the greatest season finale in any top-level rallycross championship to date. Title deciders had gone to the last round of the season in FIA World RX before, but for the drivers championship to be decided in the final race of the season – and in a tiebreak scenario, no less – was unprecedented.

For pure excitement alone, the World RX of South Africa Final will struggle to ever be matched. It had everything condensed into six laps – drama, controversy, a title contender in the barrier facing the wrong way and multiple switches of who would go home with the drivers title mid-race. Our heart rates are still through the roof just thinking about it!

Timmy may have ended the year level on points and won on a tiebreaker, but that tiebreaker showed how much he deserved the title. He scored four wins in 2019, double that of the next-best driver Niclas Grönholm, who won the South African season finale.

The big number

1
The number that matters. 1st in the FIA World RX Drivers Championship. 1st in the FIA World RX Teams Championship. 1st in TitansRX. 1st in Nitro RX. Team HANSEN MJP has finished first in every rallycross championship it has entered in 2019.

21 TIMMY HANSEN

“What would happen after the Final was not on my mind. I’m in shock! I was so focused all weekend; I think I put in the performance of my life. The whole weekend I was focused on going race by race. So many times this year we struggled in the beginning, so I just focused on each session at a time, knowing I needed to do the maximum every time to have a chance to become champion. When we won Q1, I knew we were in a good position to do well, but the focus was always on taking everything one step at a time.

“What a season it’s been. We are world champions! I don’t know what to feel – I wasn’t prepared for what comes after the driving part! I’ve been dreaming about this my whole life since I was a kid. It feels amazing. It’s everything that I wished for.”

71 KEVIN HANSEN

“I’m happy with my season and to come third in the championship is a great feeling. I gave it everything I had to try and be Top Qualifier but after qualifying, I knew that my focus had to be on helping Timmy win the championship. I was just a bit too far back in the points after then. I’m so happy for Timmy; after every bad event like Abu Dhabi or Trois-Rivières, he came back stronger and won. We have driven each other to succeed and that’s a big part of the reason why we were so strong in the teams’ championship.

“Overall this has been an amazing year for me, my best yet. Third in World RX and winning TitansRX and Nitro RX, I couldn’t have asked for much more! I learned so many things this year: I’m sure someday it will be my turn to win the world title. But for now, I will join Timmy in celebrating his championship success!”

THE BOSS KENNETH HANSEN

“To come from where we were at the end of last season to the end of this season is hard to believe. We overcame each hurdle one at a time: first, finding a way to get to the first race with two cars – one of which needed a total rebuild almost straight after! – then making sure we did all the races, all while developing the car to try and make it faster. Everyone in our team had two or three jobs: Timmy and Kevin were doing more than just driving the cars! We constantly worked to be better, to make the car better, and we could see the progress as the year went on.

“I’m so proud of Timmy and Kevin, of course not just as team principal but as a dad. They were brilliant, very focused on the task they needed to do, very respectful and mindful of what the team as a whole needed in how they raced each other. The first title is always very special, it’s a memory Timmy will keep forever, and someday I’m sure it will be Kevin’s turn to have that too.

“After crossing all over the world for World RX, TitansRX and Nitro RX we can finally have some rest! Not too much rest, of course, because we want to be back next year to defend our titles and that will require plenty of work in the off-season, but for now we will enjoy this moment. Everyone in the team worked hard for it and they deserve it!”

MotoGP World Championship – Malaysian Grand Prix

World Champion Márquez 

Five years after winning the Moto3 world championship, Álex Márquez took the Moto2 class title by making it to the second step of the Malaysian Grand Prix podium.

After three races that prevented him from being among the front-runners, Álex Márquez made it back to the podium in Malaysia, on a day when he could not afford to lose more than eight points to Brad Binder or three to Tom Lüthi if he wanted to secure the world championship title. And he wanted. By finishing second in the wake of the South African, and ahead of the Swiss rider who could also have taken the title, the Marc VDS rider snatched the crown. Leader for four laps, he did not insist when Binder overtook him, happy simply to manage his lead over Lüthi. “I am very, very happy,” commented the Spaniard. “Everyone has done an incredible job to help me feel confident all season long, especially this weekend. We arrived here after a series of complicated races. This one was difficult today, but I handled it as best I could.” Teammate Xavi Vierge posted his best result of the season, finishing fourth. “We found a good base of settings in Australia and when we arrived here everything worked well in the first practice session,” he said. “I was able to change my style of riding, I had a good pace in the race and I didn’t finish very far from the podium.” On the team Tech 3 side, Philipp Oettl finished 21st but Marco Bezzecchi didn’t cross the finish line. The Italian fell six laps from the finish as he struggled to get into the top ten. In MotoGP, Miguel Oliveira had to throw in the towel on the first day of free practice sessions. Still suffering from his shoulder since his heavy fall at Phillip Island, the Portuguese rider returned to Europe to consult his doctors. “I’m going to see if I have to have surgery as soon as possible to be one hundred percent for the first tests in February,” he said. Despite being on home ground, Hafizh Syahrin failed to score any points. The Malaysian took the chequered flag in sixteenth position behind Mika Kallio.

The Championship

For his fifth season with the Marc VDS team, Álex Márquez completed his assignment to win the Moto2 World Championship title. The Spaniard will return to the intermediate class next year and try to double the ante, as did Johann Zarco in 2017. In finishing fourth, Xavi Vierge climbed up to fifteenth place in the overall standings and is just four points behind Remy Gardner. Marco Bezzecchi retains his twenty-second place. In MotoGP, despite his withdrawal Oliveira stays in seventeenth place while Hafizh Syahrin is twenty-third.

Superbike World Championship – Qatar

Three wins to finish the season

Five-time world champion since the event at Magny-Cours, Jonathan Rea ended his season in Qatar with a new hat-trick.

Insatiable, Jonathan Rea completed his triumphal season by winning in the last three championship races held on the Losail circuit in Qatar. The hat-trick, the second this year after Donington, allows the Kawasaki rider to make his stats even better. The five-time Superbike World Champion now has 88 victories on his track record. “I’m really happy to finish the season with a hat-trick,” said Rea. “This year has been very special. I didn’t expect to suffer so much at the start of the season; I had to wait for the fifth event to win my first race. But we never let anything go. We worked to make the bike better and demonstrated on the last races that top speed is not everything. I am proud of what we achieved this year.” For his last appearance with Team Kawasaki, Leon Haslam tied for fifth place before finishing ninth in his last race with the ZX-RR. “I was hoping to do a little better,” he explained. “The season was harder than expected, I had difficulty all year in stopping the bike during the braking phases. I wasn’t able to make the progress I should have. But I had some good races, such as in Australia, Aragon and Misano. I’m also happy to have won the Suzuka Eight Hours with Jonathan.” Best independent rider this season, Toprak Razgatlioglu failed to make it back to the podium in Qatar. Eleventh in the first race, he finished the Superpole sprint in fourth place and finished fifth in the final leg. In Supersport, Lucas Mahias ended his season with another victory, the second after Magny-Cours. A success obtained though hard work by the Kawasaki rider who suffered from stomach pains at the start. Hikari Okubo crossed the finish line of the Losail circuit in eighth place.

The Championship

Despite a difficult start to the season, Jonathan Rea once again crushed the competition this year. With 17 victories, the now five-time Superbike World Champion finished with 663 points, 165 points more than his first runner-up, Alvaro Bautista. Leon Haslam ranked seventh with 281 points while Toprak Razgatlioglu, the best independent rider, finished the season in fifth place with 315 points. In Supersport, Lucas Mahias, winner of two of the last three races, finished fourth in the world championship with 168 points. Fifth, Hikari Okubo finished the year with 105 points.

MotoGP World Championship – Grand Prix of Japan

Márquez keeps control and getting closer to the title


Despite a difficult race, Álex Márquez did the job by finishing sixth, and the Moto2 World Championship leader has kept his opponents at bay.

Álex Márquez, who had scored pole position, had to settle for sixth place under the chequered flag at the finish of the Japanese Grand Prix. Less at ease than he seemed to be during the practice test sessions, the leader of the championship had to deal with a machine that became nervous when it accelerated. “We finished sixth, that’s not too bad,” commented Márquez. “But it’s true we expected much better after the free practice sessions. We changed things on the bike between the warm-up and the race, and maybe that was not the best idea we had. We’ll have to analyze all of this before Australia and get back among the leaders and set the pace right away.” Xavi Vierge had a very complicated weekend. In the background during the practice test sessions because of braking problems, and only twentieth on the grid, the Estrella Galicia 0.0 Marc VDS rider had a good start. He climbed back to twelfth position just before being snagged by the Italian rider Manzi he had just overtaken. A new Did Not Finish for Marquez’s team-mate. The Moto2 riders for the Tech 3 KTM team also had a bad weekend. Sick, Marco Bezzecchi gave up halfway while fighting for a place in the top ten. And Phillip Oettl crossed the finish line in twentieth position. In MotoGP, Miguel Oliveira equalled his second best result of the season by finishing twelfth. A good performance for the Portuguese rider, who had a bad crash during the practice test sessions. “The first laps were difficult because of the traffic,” he said. “But I managed to pick up my pace as the laps went by and finished well. Physically I felt much better than in Thailand, which is a good sign before the Australian Grand Prix.” Hafizh Syahrin fought it out with the Japanese rider Nakagami before losing it in the last five laps. He finished twentieth, 46 seconds behind the winner, Marc Márquez.

The Championship

By finishing sixth in Motegi, Álex Márquez has pocketed ten more points. With only three races remaining, the Moto2 world championship leader is now 36 points ahead of Thomas Lüthi, his new runner-up. Xavi Vierge has lost another place in the general classification. He is now sixteenth. Same punishment for Marco Bezzecchi who has slipped back to twenty-second position. In MotoGP, Miguel Oliveira has moved up to to sixteenth place while Hafizh Syahrin stays twenty-fourth.

DS TECHEETAH reveals the DS E-TENSE FE20 forthe 2019/2020 ABB FIA FORMULA E Championship

The reigning ABB FIA Formula E champions, DS TECHEETAH, has revealed its Season Six livery.

For the 2019/2020 season, the now famous black and gold livery strengthen its sporty look thanks to a frame reminiscent of its colors and icon, spread elegantly on several places of the car. The championship winning technology will also bear two laurel wreaths and the car of the reigning two-fold Formula E champion, Jean-Éric Vergne, will be decorated with two golden stars to celebrate his both driver titles. With this livery reworked by the Design Studio of DS Automobiles, the DS E-TENSE FE20 embodies more boldness and the spirit of performance than ever before. From a technical point of view, the DS E-TENSE FE20 is the fruit of the development work based on the qualities of the double championship winning DS E-TENSE FE19.

Xavier Mestelan Pinon, DS Performance Director : “The team has used the experience that allowed us to win both titles to further develop the potential of the car. Our engineers have optimized most of the elements by further developing our winning concept rather than completely rethinking the car. The engine, the inverter and the transfer case have evolved, but the deeper changes are in the heart of the embedded systems. All this ambitious research and development work aims to offer the drivers a car that allows them to fight to win and defend both titles in the coming season that starts on 22 November in Riyadh.”

Keith Smout, DS TECHEETAH Chief Commercial Officer : “The DS E-TENSE FE20 is a design evolution from our championship winning car. We wanted to stay true to our past and continue to celebrate and honour our success by keeping the now iconic gold and black livery whilst fighting for more titles. If you look closely, you can see that the pattern is made out of our cheetah head logo, which also nods to our continued efforts in supporting The Big Cat Sanctuary’s fight in saving the cheetahs and other big cats. A topic that is more pressing than ever and a cause that is close to our hearts.”

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