Hyundai Motorsport aims at maiden Rallye Monte-Carlo victory

The 2018 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) gets underway this weekend with the Rallye Monte-Carlo, the first of 13 events on this year's WRC calendar, and one where Hyundai Motorsport dearly wants to end on the number one spot on the podium for the first time.

Hyundai Motorsport has outlined clear ambitions to compete for both drivers' and manufacturers' championship titles this year, having mounted a strong challe...

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All over the world: First customers confirmed for the new Polo GTI R5
15 models of the new rally Polo GTI planned for 2018
From Belgium to Paraguay: Interest from teams around the world
Each Polo GTI R5 assembled by hand in Hanover
Wolfsburg (23 January 2018). The anticipation is half the fun: Shortly before the start of the 2018 rally season, Volkswagen has now provided the first 15 customers with information on the delivery of their new Polo GTI R5*. Development of the fou...

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The countdown has begun. In a few days' time, the World Rally Championship returns to action on the wintry roads of Rallye Monte-Carlo. In its second season in the category with the C3 WRC, the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT has opted for stability, its driver line-up once again consisting of Kris Meeke / Paul Nagle and Craig Breen / Scott Martin.


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Renault Sport Formula One Team driver Carlos Sainz will follow in the footsteps of his double World Rally Championship-winning father when he takes on the final stage of the 2018 Rallye Monte Carlo. The 23-year-old Spaniard will make his Monte Carlo debut when he drives the 13.58km La Cabanette-Col de Braus stage on 28 January in the New Renault Mégane R.S.

Carlos will pass through the stage as the ‘00’ course car that checks the ...

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2018 liveries - cars look yummy!

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Eight rounds for Suninen

Young Finnish hotshot Teemu Suninen will step up to an eight-round World Rally Car programme this season with reigning WRC champions M-Sport Ford World Rally Team.

The 23-year-old will begin his campaign alongside world champion Sébastien Ogier and Elfyn Evans at February’s Rally Sweden in the British squad’s third Fiesta.


He will also compete on gravel rounds in Mexico, Portugal and Italy during the first half of the season. His home event in Finland will lead into more dirt rounds in Turkey and Great Britain, before his year ends on mixed surface roads in Spain.

The 23-year-old made a startling impression on his debut at the WRC’s highest level in 2017, winning a stage in Poland and almost claiming a podium in Finland.

Suninen’s programme was confirmed at the Autosport International show on Friday, 24 hours after the 2018 championship was launched at the high-profile Birmingham event.

“The plan is to start those rallies in a relaxed state of mind. There’s no now or never situation or anything like that and no need to focus on our position in the drivers’ championship. We’ll just take it rally by rally and make the most of every event we do,” he said.
Major step for Teemu Suninen

“We need to ensure we make the most of this opportunity, and that is exactly what we plan to do. I’m really looking forward to getting back behind the wheel of a top-specification world rally car and aim to learn as much as I can.”

He will gain further experience with outings in a Fiesta R5 at Rallye Monte-Carlo and ADAC Rallye Deutschland in the WRC 2 support category.

Suninen is at the forefront of a new generation of Finnish rally stars and the latest in a long line of top youngsters to emerge from the M-Sport stable.

“There is no denying that Teemu is a very talented young driver, and a future rally winner,” said M-Sport boss Malcolm Wilson.

“With eight rallies this year he’ll get the vital experience needed to develop his career at this level and I would not be at all be surprised if we saw him challenging for a podium or two.”

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Matton lands top FIA rally role

Citroën Racing boss Yves Matton will leave the French squad next month to take up a new role as the FIA’s rally director.

Matton will replace Jarmo Mahonen, who retired at the end of 2017, and will start his new job at the FIA’s Geneva offices on 7 February.


The Belgian will be responsible for the FIA’s rally strategy at all levels and will work closely with commercial rights holder WRC Promoter in the FIA World Rally Championship.

“I feel very honoured to take on this position at the FIA, the governing body of world motorsport. I have worked at various levels of the sport, including for one of the most successful manufacturers in history, but this is for me a real achievement in itself,” he said.

Matton was team manager at Kronos Racing before joining Citroën Sport in 2002, eventually becoming team manager. He left six years later but returned to Citroën Racing in 2012 and guided the team back into the WRC last season after a 12-month sabbatical.

FIA president Jean Todt said Matton’s rallying experience would be important to ensure the sport’s continued growth.

“He has great passion for the sport and his understanding of competition and management at independent and manufacturer levels will be a great asset to further securing the future development of our sport,” said Todt.

Todt paid tribute to Mahonen’s ‘significant contribution’ and the advancements made in rallying under his management. “We have solid foundations to further build on and I am confident we will continue to see the sport grow from strength to strength,” he added.

Citroën Racing has made no announcement about Matton’s replacement, but Pierre Budar, who runs parent company PSA Motorsport’s customer racing department, is expected to be confirmed in the job.

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The 2018 FIA World Rally Championship hit top gear with a spectacular high-profile launch at the Autosport International show in Birmingham on Thursday.

Manufacturer teams representing Citroën, Hyundai, M-Sport Ford and Toyota provided a first public look at their 2018 World Rally Cars as the quartet lined up side-by-side on the central stage during a day dubbed Takeover Thursday.

All the big-name drivers, co-drivers and team principals were present to share their views on th...e new season, two weeks before the prestigious Rallye Monte-Carlo (25 - 28 January) ushers in the opening action in Monaco’s glamorous Casino Square.

A packed day of WRC activities heralded the opening of Europe’s biggest pre-season motorsport show at the NEC Birmingham. All cars will stay on display throughout the weekend with more driver appearances lined up.

Support category competitors from WRC 2 and Junior WRC also took part.

Major news stories from launch day activities included:

• WRC Promoter, the championship’s commercial rights holder, announced ground-breaking plans to show live coverage of every special stage from every rally as it happens. The new WRC All Live service will offer more than 25 hours of coverage from each round as a continuous live stream, including expert analysis from the WRC’s TV studio and breaking news, interviews and reactions from across the service park.
Mads Østberg will join Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team for February's Rally Sweden

• Ford announced extended support to M-Sport, winner of both the drivers’ and manufacturers’ titles in 2017. The renamed M-Sport Ford World Rally Team will receive additional technical help from Ford Performance in USA, as well as extra financial backing.

• Mads Østberg will join Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team for Rally Sweden (15 - 18 February). The Norwegian and co-driver Torstein Eriksen will drive a third C3 alongside Kris Meeke and Craig Breen. “We’re talking about further rallies but nothing has been confirmed,” said Østberg.

• World champions Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia were joined by M-Sport Ford boss Malcolm Wilson in opening the four-day show.

• Ott Tänak and Martin Järveoja made their first official appearance in Toyota Gazoo Racing colours after joining the Finnish-based team from M-Sport for 2018.

• Dani Sordo appeared with new co-driver Carlos del Barrio. Del Barrio, who previously partnered his fellow Spaniard between 2011 - 2013, replaces Marc Marti alongside Sordo at Hyundai Motorsport.

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Pierre Budar has replaced Yves Matton as head of Citroën Racing.

Budar, a longtime employee of the French squad’s parent PSA Group, has been named Director of Citroën Racing following Matton’s decision to join the FIA as rally director.

He takes up the reins with immediate effect and will be in charge of the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi squad at next week’s opening round of the FIA World Rally Championship, Rallye Monte-Carlo (25 - 28 January).


“Groupe PSA has given me a unique opportunity to reconcile my passion for motorsport with an engineering career. I never imagined one day running one of the most prestigious competition teams in the world,” said 53-year-old Budar.

“I measure the challenge that is proposed to me at the head of an extraordinary team and I will strive to obtain the best of its talents.”

Budar joined PSA in 1989 as an engineer and drove for the Peugeot Talbot Sport team in 1991 in a Group N 309 car.

He worked in France and Asia before setting up the group’s road performance car development department in 2010.

He took on responsibility for the group’s customer competition activities in 2016 and was influential in the development of Citroën’s C3 R5 rally car.

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•Opening stage victory for Nasser Al Attiyah/Mathieu Baumel
•2nd place for Bernhard ten Brinke/Michel Périn...

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WRC 2017: Stat attack

Twelve months, thirteen rounds, one world champion - we could go on. So we have.

With thanks to WRC stage-end reporter Julian Porter, a man who lives up to his @The_Rally_Guru Twitter handle, we present our review of the season in statistics. Best keep them handy in case you are stuck for conversation before WRC 2018 kicks off


Here we go:

6 – The number of times Craig Breen finished in 5th place this season.

135 - Seconds (2m15s) was the largest winning margin this year. The difference between Rallye Monte-Carlo winner Sébastien Ogier and Jari-Matti Latvala in second.

4 – The most wins by a single driver, Thierry Neuville.

19 – The number of podium finishes for the M-Sport World Rally Team, more than any other team.

24 – Sébastien Ogier & Julien Ingrassia’s winning margins in the drivers' and co-drivers' championships.

78 – The total number of WRC rally wins for current drivers Sébastien Ogier (40), Jari-Matti Latvala (17), Thierry Neuville (6), Kris Meeke (5), Andreas Mikkelsen (3), Ott Tänak (2) and Mads Østberg, Dani Sordo, Hayden Paddon, Esapekka Lappi and Elfyn Evans (1 each). ALSO the number of WRC wins recorded by 2018 returnee Sébastien Loeb.
Julian Porter: WRC TV stats Guru

56 – The number of WRC stage wins for Thierry Neuville - 26 more than anybody else.

54 – The number of rallies between M-Sport's last win at Rally GB 2012 and Rallye Monte-Carlo 2017.

18 – The number of years between Toyota’s last WRC rally win (China 1999) before its victory at Rally Sweden this year.

18 – The number of seconds Kris Meeke and Paul Nagle spent in a car park en route to their famous Mexico win.

10 – The number of different stage winners at ADAC Rallye Deutschland - the highest of the season.

6 – The number of different rally leaders at Vodafone Rally de Portugal and Rally Italia Sardegna - joint highest of the season.

11 – The number of lead changes at ORLEN 74th Rally Poland - the most of any rally this season.

3 – New winners of a WRC rally in 2017 [Ott Tänak, Esapekka Lappi, Elfyn Evans]. The last time there were three new winners was 1993.

17 – The number of years between a British driver winning the championship's British round - Richard Burns in 2000, Elfyn Evans in 2017.

7 – The number of different WRC rally winners this year.

17 – Age of Kalle Rovanperä at Kennards Hire Rally Australia when he became the youngest ever WRC point scorer.

26 – The number of drivers who scored WRC points in 2017.

13 – The number of drivers who led a WRC rally in 2017.

126.16 – The highest average speed this season, in KPH, record by Esapekka Lappi at Neste Rally Finland

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January 5

Loeb back in WRC

WRC legend Sébastien Loeb will return to the FIA World Rally Championship in 2018 with Citroën.

Loeb, who won nine consecutive world titles between 2004 and 2012, will drive a C3 World Rally Car at three rounds – on Mexico’s gravel (8 - 11 March), on Corsica’s asphalt (5 - 8 April) and at Spain’s mixed surface fixture (25 - 28 October).


Regular co-driver Daniel Elena will partner the Frenchman, who will replace Craig Breen in the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi line-up for the three events. Breen will tackle the other 10 rounds alongside Kris Meeke, who will start all 13 rallies.

Rumours of a Loeb return began when he tested the C3 on asphalt in August, before taking the wheel on gravel six weeks later. He admitted the lure of WRC proved too great to resist.

“The feeling you get in rally is one of the most thrilling feelings I’ve ever experienced, and I was excited about driving one of these new WRCs in a race. It’s nice to be able to do it in the team with which I’ve enjoyed so much success,” he said.

Loeb took 78 wins before retiring from a full-time WRC career in 2012. He has started sporadic events since, the most recent being Rallye Monte-Carlo in 2015, before focusing on rallycross and cross-country rallies with Peugeot.
Loeb will tackle three rounds in 2018

He has won the Spanish encounter eight times, with six wins in Mexico and four in Corsica.

“Everyone was pleased after the test sessions done this year, myself first and foremost, and these three appearances were the logical next step.

“I don’t have any expectations, I just want to enjoy myself. I thought it made sense to take part in the French round, especially since I’ve always loved racing on Tarmac, although I’m not familiar with the current route of the Tour de Corse.

“Spain seemed like a good option too. And although I’m expecting it to be pretty tough given the time that has passed since I last competed there, I also wanted to contest a gravel rally.

“We opted for Mexico, since I have good memories of racing there and the route hasn't changed too much since I was last involved in the championship,” said Loeb.

Citroën Racing director Yves Matton said Loeb’s tests convinced him the 43-year-old had not lost his touch.

“I’m delighted to see there will be another chapter in the great history between between Sébastien Loeb and Citroën. He couldn’t return to the WRC with anyone other than us!

“Seb confirmed he has lost none of his speed and skill during the test sessions, although he is bound to be short of knowledge of the stages and time in the car compared with the increasingly tough competition,” said Matton.

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Ford returns to WRC entry list

The FIA has confirmed the list of manufacturers registered for the 2018 WRC - and with it the return of the Ford name to the championship for the first time since 2012.

After five seasons of below the radar involvement with long-term WRC partner M-Sport, Ford will adopt a higher profile in 2018 when the British-based team will be known as the M-Sport Ford World Rally Team.


The change reflects Ford’s increased technical support for the championship-winning M-Sport squad, so it can continue to develop the Fiesta World Rally Car. This additional commitment is believed to have been a key part of Sébastien Ogier’s demands before he would sign for the squad for 2018.

Beyond the return of the Blue Oval, there are no surprises to next year's entries, and no name changes to the Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT or Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT.

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Contesting the full season next year, Kris Meeke will spearhead the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team, whilst Craig Breen will drive the second Citroën C3 WRC at ten rounds of the championship and Khalid Al Qassimi will appear in a third car at a handful of rallies. Sébastien Loeb will be making a much-anticipated return to the WRC with the brand in Mexico, Corsica and Catalonia. Meanwhile, Stéphane Lefebvre will be tasked w...

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Driving tips during school holidays

As many schoolchildren complete their exams and the end of term comes ever nearer, motorists can expect to see more children walking or riding their bikes on the roads. Along with the usual challenges we face on our streets, this creates additional factors to consider. This is what you can do to ensure all road users, young or old, remain safe during the holiday season.

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