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    Cool WRC Bulgaria July 9-11 talk/results spoiler**

    Next: Round 7: Rally Bulgaria July 9-11



    Making its debut as a round of the World Rally Championship this year is Rally Bulgaria; the oldest and most prestigious round of the country's national series.

    First run in 1970, Rally Bulgaria was the sole WRC candidate rally in 2009 and will take the step up to the world stage after a successful period as a round of the FIA European Rally Championship.

    Official Website: rallybulgaria.com/


    This might be the event’s first time in the WRC, but it’s the 41st running of Bulgaria’s biggest international rally - which was a full round of the European Rally Championship from 1988, and a WRC Candidate Rally for the last two seasons.

    Formerly running out of the Black Sea resort of Zlantni Piasatzi, the organisers of the event shifted 500 kilometres west to Borovets in 2002, enabling them to drastically shorten the liaison sections between Service Park and stages. The upshot of this is one of the most compact - and highest - routes in the WRC.

    There might only be seven stages run twice, but of those seven, the shortest is 17.73 kilometres (Sunday’s Slavovitsa - the last stage of the event) and the longest, the event opener is a whopping 31.77 kilometres and called Batak Lake. But, once again, it’s a reservoir not a lake - they might look the same, but don’t be fooled.

    The stages themselves will be a mix of Catalan-style sealed surface, good quality quick stuff, but the majority will be more akin to the technical, twisty and, in places bumpy, roads we’re used to seeing on Alpine routes. These roads are covered in snow and ice from late autumn to late spring, so don’t go expecting billiard table stages for three days.

    Read More Click: wrc.com/jsp/index=Countdown+to+Rally+Bulgaria


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    Petter fastest in Rally Bulgaria Shakedown




    Citroen privateer Petter Solberg got his partnership with new co-driver Chris Patterson off to a perfect start earlier today by setting the fastest time at the pre-event shakedown for Rally Bulgaria.

    The four hour test - a prelude to this weekend's rally - took place on a 2.65km asphalt road from Momin Prohod to Gorna Vassiitsa Village, 9km from the main Service Park in Dolna Banya. After overnight rain, conditions were dry and cloudy throughout, with a temperature peaking at 12 degrees Celsius.

    "Not bad, eh?" said Petter after completing his sixth and final run in a session-winning time of 1m 39.4s. "The car felt good and I'm feeling confident about the partnership inside the car too. The shakedown road wasn't exactly like the roads we saw on the recce - it's a bit more slippery - but the car set-up worked well."

    Fellow Citroen C4 WRC driver Dani Sordo was closest to Solberg's time, stopping the clock four-tenths slower, while Citroen Junior team driver Sebastien Ogier, also in a C4, rounded off the top three times with a 1m 39.9s.

    Former Formula One champion and WRC newcomer Kimi Raikkonen underlined his skill on asphalt by sharing the fourth fastest time - 1m 40.5s - with six times World Rally Champion Sebastien Loeb.

    "He's more comfortable on the tarmac, that's for sure," commented Raikkonen's co-driver Kaj Lindstrom. "There was a delay at the start before our first run, so we lost all the heat from the tyres, but things got better from there. He went well at our pre-event test and we've done a good time here. I'm excited about this rally..."

    "He is certainly very fast on tarmac," acknowledged Loeb. "I think the most difficult part for him will be to be fast on the first loop - with only two passes on the recce. But his first pass today was okay, so we'll see tomorrow. It's certainly going to be interesting. Asked whether he thought the Finn could be a serious threat this weekend, Loeb said: 'I hope not."

    Click: wrc.com/Bulgaria/Shakedown

    Click: wrc.com/jsp/Patterson_Solberg

    Click: pettersolberg.com/

    Here are the Shakedown times of the leading WRC drivers:

    1. P. SOLBERG. Citroen C4 WRC. 1:39.4
    2. SORDO. Citroen C4 WRC. 1:39.8
    3. OGIER. Citroen C4 WRC. 1:39.9
    =4. LOEB. Citroen C4 WRC. 1:40.5
    =4. RAIKKONEN. Citroen C4 WRC. 1:40.5
    6. HIRVONEN. Ford Focus RS WRC 09. 1:41.3
    7. LATVALA. Ford Focus RS WRC 09. 1:42.2
    =8. P-G ANDERSSON. Ford Focus RS WRC 08. 1:42.6
    =8. WILSON. Ford Focus RS WRC 08. 1:42.6

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    It's going to seem weird without Phil. Let's see if Petter can do it with the new guy. A podium spot would be nice!
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    Bulgaria SS1





    Loeb leads after the opening stage in Bulgaria

    Defending World Rally Champion Sebastien Loeb moved into an early lead of Rally Bulgaria this morning after setting the fastest time on the opening stage.

    The Citroen C4 WRC driver declared himself happy with his car and his driving after completing the 31.77km Batak Lake SS1 - the longest stage of the rally - in a time of 17m 33.8s. Loeb's team-mate Dani Sordo was second fastest, in a time 8.6sec slower, while Sebastien Ogier was third fastest, 9.1sec off Loeb's pace.

    Petter Solberg and Kimi Raikkonen were fourth and fifth fastest - completing an all Citroen C4 top five.

    Ford team leader Mikko Hirvonen holds sixth, 18 seconds off Loeb's lead. "I can't be too proud of that, hopefully we can improve on the next one," said Hirvonen.

    Weather conditions were overcast but dry with just a few damp patches remaining after light overnight rain. The majority of crews elected to run Pirelli's hard compound tyres.

    Click: wrc.com/BulgariaSS1News


    -------------------------------------

    Bulgaria SS2





    SS2: Loeb quickest again, Ogier up to second

    Frenchman Sebastien Loeb was the fastest man through stage two in Bulgaria, extending his rally lead to 16 seconds after the opening 59 kilometres of the rally.

    Loeb's Citroen stable-mate Sebastien Ogier moved ahead of Dani Sordo into second place in the overall standings, while the closest man to Loeb on the stage was Petter Solberg - tackling his first rally with new co-driver Chris Patterson.

    Solberg held fourth place overall, with Kimi Raikkonen rounding off an all-Citroen top five. Ford Focus driver Mikko Hirvonen holds sixth, 41.6 seconds off the lead.

    Click: wrc.com/BulgariaSS2News


    -------------------------------------------

    Midday wrap: Loeb on top on Rally Bulgaria

    Sebastien Loeb has made the perfect start to Rally Bulgaria by going fastest on the opening two stages of the World Rally Championship event.

    The title leader topped the times on the first 31.77-kilometre Batak Lake stage and followed that up by going quickest on the Belmeken Lake run in his Citroen Total World Rally Team C4 WRC.

    Like all the leading contenders, Loeb opted for the hard compound Pirelli PZero tyre after the threat of rain, which would have prompted a switch to the soft compound version, subsided. However, Loeb did report some damp patches on the Batak Lake test, particularly under tree cover.

    Sebastien Ogier is second, 16 seconds down on Loeb, after a small moment when he glanced a barrier on the first stage. Dani Sordo, Loeb’s Citroen team-mate, is third overall as the French manufacturer’s C4 model filled the top five places.

    Petter Solberg, who is competing alongside new co-driver Chris Patterson for the first time, is fourth overall in his privately-run C4 after going second quickest on stage two. Kimi Raikkonen has impressed by completing the opening loop of stages in fifth, one place ahead of leading Ford pilot Mikko Hirvonen who admitted he needed to improve his pace after failing to find a “good rhythm”.

    P-G Andersson adopted a cautious approach on his first appearance for the Stobart M-Sport Ford team. He is currently eighth overall behind works Ford driver Jari-Matti Latvala.

    Hungarian Frigyes Turan is ninth in a Peugeot 307 WRC with Matthew Wilson restricted to 10th in his Stobart Focus after a brake glitch struck on the opening run.
    The Briton was one of several drivers to report mud being pulled onto the road by the leading drivers taking ‘cuts’ through some corners. He also said he had struggled to gain confidence on his first run on asphalt since Rally Catalunya last October.

    Mathieu Arzeno upstaged fellow Citroen C2 Super 1600 driver Thierry Neuville with the fastest time in the Junior World Rally Championship section on stage one. Neuville hit back on stage two but trails the young Frenchman by a handful of seconds.

    Several drivers weren’t quite so lucky with Todor Slovov slowed by brake problems and Karl Kruuda suffering a spin on the first stage in his Suzuki Swift. Kevin Abbring, the J-WRC title leader, said his car’s hefty weight was hampering him on the uphill sections.

    Following service in Dolna Banya, crews will repeat the opening two stages. With an 80 per cent chance of rain on stage four, tyre compound choice could become a major factor with drivers and engineers debating on whether to remain on the hard compound Pirelli tyre or switch to the soft version, which will provide increased grip if it rains.

    Click: wrc.com/middaywrap


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    Bulgaria SS3

    SS3: Junction overshoot costs Ogier second place


    Citroen Junior Team driver Sebastien Ogier dropped from second to seventh place on the third stage of Rally Bulgaria after missing a junction and getting his C4 WRC stuck for one minute.

    The Frenchman misheard a pace note and went straight on a junction 5.1km from the start of the repeated Batak Lake stage. His car collected panel damage to its right-hand front corner but seems unscathed mechanically.

    Rally leader Sebastien Loeb extended his unbroken run of stage wins, completing the test 2.7sec ahead of his nearest rival and team-mate Dani Sordo. Peter Solberg was third quickest, with Ford drivers Mikko Hirvonen and Jari Matti Latvala fourth and fifth fastest respectively.

    Click: wrc.com/BulgariaSS3News




    -----------------------------

    SS4: Kimi Raikkonen crashes out

    Citroen Junior Team driver Kimi Raikkonen made a dramatic exit from the opening day of Rally Bulgaria, crashing his C4 World Rally Car out of fourth place on Friday's final stage.

    The Formula One star was 19.5km into the repeated Belmen Lake stage when his car left the road. Kimi and his co-driver Kaj Lindstrom were uninjured in the accident.

    Emergency vehicles were despatched to the scene, and cars behind Raikkonen were yellow flagged and completed the stage at slow speed.

    Before the incident, Sebastien Loeb wrapped up a perfect opening day on Rally Bulgaria by setting the fastest time though SS4 and completing a clean sweep of stage wins.

    Click: wrc.com/KimiOut/News/SS4





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    WRC Friday wrap: Loeb enjoys the perfect day

    Sebastien Loeb and his Citroen C4 WRC didn’t miss a beat through the first four stages of the inaugural World Rally Championship round in Bulgaria.

    The Frenchman, who has won the last 15 pure asphalt rounds of the WRC, was peerless for every one of the opening day’s 118 competitive kilometres. The only change for Loeb through the afternoon came in his rear-view mirror as Sebastien Ogier slipped off the road in the third test, allowing Dani Sordo to move into second place.

    Petter Solberg was third at the end of day one, ensuring that, while Citroen’s domination of the top five might have slipped with Ford’s Mikko Hirvonen running fourth this evening, the French firm still has the provisional podium locked down.

    “The feeling for me has been very good today,” said Loeb. “There was some gravel in some of the corners this afternoon, but nothing too bad. I tried to drive the same as this morning and the times were close [to what he set through the morning]. But, there is still a long way to go in this event, and the weather could make it difficult tomorrow. I will try to be confident again tomorrow, but today has been perfect for me and the car.”

    Ogier was just 2.6 seconds ahead of Sordo when he went off the road and - given the Spaniard’s upturn in pace through the second run of stages - the Citroen Junior Team driver might have found it tough to keep Sordo behind.

    That all became academic when the Rally Portugal winner misheard a pace note call mid-way through the stage and went straight off the road. “It took some time for me to get back on the road,” said Ogier, who dropped to sixth in the standings. “It’s quite frustrating, but that can be the rally some times.”

    Sordo was much happier through the afternoon. Second fastest on both stages, he added eight seconds to his advantage over third-placed Solberg. “We made a change to the rear of the car,” said Sordo, “and this really worked for me this afternoon. The car had less understeer. But still it’s not easy, Sebastien [Loeb] is driving so well, some times it’s unbelievable what he is doing.”

    Solberg, who ran on the same tyres for the afternoon as he did through the morning - hoping the scrubbed rubber would offer better grip - was pleased to still be in touch with Sordo, particularly after spending his first day with new co-driver Chris Patterson.

    Hirvonen’s fastest Ford was 32.9 seconds down on Solberg and more than a minute off the lead. The Finn had moved up one more position after Kimi Raikkonen crashed out of the rally on the fourth stage.

    “This hasn’t been a good day,” said Hirvonen. “I wasn’t so confident in the pace notes this morning, sometimes they were too fast and then in some corners too slow. Like this morning, when the road was dirty or technical, I felt we were okay and the pace was good, but in the fast sections we were not really there. We made some changes at lunchtime and this helped the car, it was definitely better this afternoon.”

    Hirvonen’s Ford team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala is fifth, 10 seconds behind his countryman with Ogier seventh. Stobart new boy P-G Andersson is seventh with Hungarian Peugeot 307 WRC driver Frigyes Turan eighth.

    Click: wrc.com/Friday_wrap


    ------------------------------------



    J-WRC Friday wrap: Arzeno holds narrow Junior advantage in Bulgaria

    Mathieu Arzeno and Thierry Neuville will be separated by a mere 1.8 seconds when they resume their battle victory in the Junior World Rally Championship section of Rally Bulgaria on Saturday.

    The Citroen C2 Super 1600 drivers have been closely matched throughout the opening day of the Tarmac rally. Arzeno took the honours on the opening special stage before Neuville hit back with the fastest time on the next three stages.

    At the final service halt in Dolna Banya, Arzeno said: “It’s the first time that I have led a rally in a Super 1600 car so it is not too bad but tomorrow I know I will have to push a lot harder because the gap to Thierry is not so much.”

    Hans Weijs is third overall in a similar Citroen, despite being held back by a brake problem in the afternoon. However, the Dutch driver said he was confident his mechanics could rectify the problem ahead of Saturday’s six stages.

    Yeray Lemes, who hails from the Canary Islands reported the engine in his Renault Clio S1600 was overheating after the first stage but he holds fourth overall, 20.4s behind Weijs.

    Local hero Todor Slavov is fifth in class overnight. The Bulgarian Clio R3 driver complained of a lack of brakes on Friday’s opening test.

    Read More click: wrc.com/Friday_JWRC_wrap

    --------------------------------

    Kimi: down but not out?

    Despite a sizeable accident on the final stage of the Rally Bulgaria today, the Citroen Junior Team is still holding out hope that Kimi Raikkonen will be able to re-start the second day of the rally on Saturday.

    Raikkonen went off less than eight kilometres from the finish of SS4, Belmeken Lake, where he had set fifth-fastest time in the morning.

    Nonetheless, having secured fourth place following his team mate Sebastien Ogier’s off in the morning, Raikkonen set off on a more aggressive strategy in the afternoon. He was the only Citroen driver to have opted for Pirelli’s soft-compound tyres, banking on some rain affecting the final two stages.

    “I think it’s a good decision,” he said at midday service. “We’ll try something different and see what happens.”

    The 2007 Formula 1 World Champion ran at a comparatively conservative pace throughout the penultimate stage, setting sixth-quickest time, but pushed much harder on the final stage, setting the opening two fastest split times despite conditions remaining warm and dry.

    Raikkonen then went off towards the end of the stage, landing on his car’s roof. Although the accident was big enough to bring out the yellow flags, Citroen is not giving up hope that the former Grand Prix champion’s C4 WRC can be fixed tonight so that he can start day two under the super rally regulations, with a five-minute penalty per stage missed.

    Read More click: wrc.com/kimi_news


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    Day 2

    SS5: Citroens shine in the wet




    After a fine and dry opening day on Rally Bulgaria, day two got underway with an unpredictable mix of localised rain, dense fog and cool temperatures in the Rila Mountains where today's stages are based.

    The first stage, the 27km Sestrimo, turned out to be mostly damp - although teams didn’t know that when tyre choices were made at the Service Park 45 minutes before it was run.

    With a couple of exceptions, Citroen and Ford chose opposite tyre strategies - with the Citroens on Pirelli's soft compound PZero and Ford, hoping for drier conditions, on the hard compound.

    In the event Citroen got it right, which allowed rally leader Sebastien Loeb to take his fifth stage victory of the rally. Fellow Citroen C4 drivers Dani Sordo and Petter Solberg were his closest rivals.

    Ford drivers Mikko Hirvonen and Jari-Matti Latvala were the highest profile casualties of the hard compound decision. Both lost more than a minute to the leaders as they struggled for grip. They dropped to fifth and sixth place respectively as Citroen Junior Team driver Sebastien Ogier leapfrogged them both.

    Click: wrc.com/BulgariaSS5/News




    --------------------------------

    SS6: Sordo pips Loeb to stage win

    Dani Sordo ended Sebastien's perfect stage winning record in Bulgaria on SS6, completing the 18km Peshtera test 3.5 seconds faster than his Citroen team-mate - who now holds an overall lead of 30 seconds.

    After rain earlier, much of the Peshtera asphalt had dried by the time the WRC crews tackled it, although there were still damp patches in shaded areas.

    Citroen privateer Petter Solberg took the third fastest time, with Sebastien Ogier fourth and Jari-Matti Latvala fifth.

    Click: wrc.com/BulgariaSS6/News



    ----------------------------------
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    Cool

    Photos from Rally Bulgaria

    Photos by Atanas Kurtev

    Click: Rally Bulgaria 2010 Photos

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    SS7 cancelled on safety grounds

    Huge numbers of spectators force organisers to scrap SS7, rest of Saturday's schedule delayed by 27 minutes

    The last of Saturday morning's loop of stages - the 24km Lyubnitsa SS7 - has been cancelled on safety grounds because of large numbers of spectators trying to gain late access to the end of the stage.

    Organisers took the decision on the recommendation of the FIA safety delegate who monitored the situation from a helicopter.

    The stage was delayed by almost an hour while attempts were made to move the spectators. After the cancellation was confirmed, crews drove the stage as a non-competitive road section and made their way back to Dolna Banya for the midday service.

    Much of the time lost will be made up in the pre-service regroup but the rest of this afternoon's itinerary will run 27 minutes late.

    Click: wrc.com/SS7_News


    ------------------------------

    Midday wrap: Loeb extends lead



    Sebastien Loeb turned in another perfect performance through Saturday morning’s stages - although the Rally Bulgaria leader was beaten for the first time since the start of the event as his Citroen Total team-mate Dani Sordo collected fastest time in SS6.

    The third and final stage of the morning was cancelled due to the high number of spectators arriving late at the end of the 24.86-kilometer Lyubnitsa, leaving Loeb to drive back to service with a half-minute lead over Sordo.

    The Citroens had also further extended their advantage over Ford after the Focus RS WRCs of Mikko Hirvonen and Jari-Matti Latvala ran with hard-compound Pirellis on what turned out to be wetter-than-expected stages. Citroen had universally taken the soft option.

    “It was a good morning,” said Loeb. “There were no mistakes and no problems. In the second stage I was thinking a little more to the safety. I lost my rhythm in the middle of the stage and then couldn’t find it so much. I would like to push some more, I feel better when I drive like this.”

    Having extended his advantage over third-placed Petter Solberg, Sordo was happy with his morning’s work. “I think this is okay now,” said the Spaniard, eyeing the timesheets which revealed a 26.8-second advantage over the 2003 world champion. “It was wet in the first stage, but it was also quite good fun driving the car in these conditions. I feel well with the car now, the set-up is really good.”

    Solberg’s position was similar to that of Sordo. He was unwilling to risk all in pursuit of the second factory C4, particularly as the challenge from behind had faded. Hirvonen and Latvala, who started the day chasing Solberg, were passed by Ogier in the day’s opener; the Rally Portugal winner was fourth, but he was more than a minute behind Solberg.
    “I’m thinking about the championship now,” said Solberg.

    Ogier was content to spend his time learning more about driving the Citroen on asphalt - and to keep the Fords behind him.

    Hirvonen and Latvala were both bemused at their lot through the morning. Mikko summed it up saying: “We expected the first and last stage to be dry and the middle stage to be drying. The road to the first stage was dry, but then a kilometre before the start it got wet. The middle one was drying and the last was bone dry - but then they cancelled that one!”

    Overnight Junior World Rally Championship category leader Mathieu Arzeno slipped behind Thierry Neuville on Saturday's opening stage and then lost further ground when he picked up a puncture on stage six and slipped to fifth in class. His delay has promoted Hans Weijs up to second in the young driver standings, albeit more than 50 seconds behind Neuville. Joint championship leader Kevin Abbring is up to fourth behind Yeray Lemes, who was delayed by a broken driveshaft on stage two.

    Click: wrc.com/midday wrap


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    SS8: Petter makes a dash for second



    Petter Solberg was the fastest driver through SS8 - the repeated 27km Sestrimo - to slash the time difference between himself and second placed Dani Sordo from 26.8sec to 13.1sec.

    The Norwegian said he was 'back in the fight' after finding something wrong with his Citroen at the midday service but would not elaborate on what the problem was.

    Solberg's car was fitted with four hard compound tyres for SS8, which turned out to be completely dry. But with rain an ever-present threat in the mountains, a variety of options were employed by the teams. Loeb's car was fitted with soft tyres all round, while Sordo and Ogier had soft fronts and hard rears.

    Ford drivers Hirvonen and Latvala had hard compound tyres all round. Hirvonen had an encouraging run to set the fourth fastest time, but there were problems for Latvala who lost his power steering half way through.

    Click: wrc.com/BulgariaSS8/News





    ------------------------------------

    SS9: Solberg edges closer

    Citroen privateer Petter Solberg continued his stage winning form on SS9, narrowing the gap on Dani Sordo's second place to less than 10 seconds.

    With no sign yet this afternoon of the forecast rain, Solberg's choice of hard compound tyres proved once again to be the best option for the bone dry asphalt.

    Sebastien Loeb admitted his team's decision to fit soft compound tyres wasn't the best but the rally leader still managed the second fastest time - just seven-tenths slower than Solberg's. Dani Sordo - running a mixture of soft compound tyres at the front and hard at the rear - was third fastest.

    After his power steering system broke on the previous stage, Jari-Matti Latvala drove all 18km of SS9 without any hydraulic assistance. Incredibly, the Finn's stage time was only 14.3seconds slower than Petter's.

    Click: wrc.com/Bulgaria SS9/News




    .
    Last edited by Weasel 555; 07-10-2010 at 06:50 AM.
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    End of Day 2

    SS10: Solberg fastest on Saturday's final stage




    Petter Solberg sealed a successful afternoon in Bulgaria on SS10 with a third consecutive stage victory and the promise of an exciting battle with Dani Sordo for second place on Sunday.

    Solberg took another 4.9sec from Sordo's advantage on the 24km Lyubnitsa stage - which should have run in the morning as SS7 but was cancelled because of spectator problems. Ahead of tomorrow's final day Solberg trails the Spaniard by just 4.7sec.

    Sebastien Loeb was Solberg's closest rival though Lyubnitsa, in a time 1.1sec slower, while Sebastien Ogier was third fastest.

    Click: wrc.com/Bulgaria SS10/News





    .
    ScoobyDMC #000,HawkEyeAlliance#000,Blobeye Syndicate #000, SQC-NY #009, "Dragon Slayer"
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  16. #15
    Registered User WRXelent's Avatar
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    This could get interesting! Go Petter!
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