WRC France Sept29-Oct2 talk/results spoiler**
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    Cool WRC France Sept29-Oct2 talk/results spoiler**

    Rnd 11 - Rallye de France - Sept 29 - Oct 2



    For the second year in a row, France’s World Rally Championship qualifier will take place in the country’s Alsace region to the east following its move away from Corsica, the event’s home from 1973 until 2008.

    Alsace is Sebastien Loeb country and it was highly fitting that the French ace secured his seventh world crown on a special stage run through the streets of his home town of Haguenau when the region hosted its first WRC qualifier in October 2010.

    With a base on the outskirts of Strasbourg, the rally utilised a remote service halt in the town of Mulhouse on day one, which quickly became swamped with enthusiastic spectators. Indeed, the event’s central location - not to mention the Loeb factor - ensured a phenomenal turn out of fans on all three days.

    Official Website: rallyedefrance.com/


    WRC Radio: wrc.com/fanzone/world-rally-radio/


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    Ford paints it black with 'sexy, mean, moody' Fiesta

    Following a Facebook campaign, the Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team has re-liveried the Fiesta RS WRCs of Mikko Hirvonen, Jari-Matti Latvala and Khalid Al Qassimi for this weekend's Rallye de France

    'I see a line of cars and they're all painted black', sang Mick Jagger back in 1966, and his words clearly inspired the Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team, which will run its three Fiesta RS WRCs in a 'sexy, mean and moody' new livery on the Rallye de France next weekend.

    Following a concerted campaign by fans on the team's Facebook page, Ford's three cars – for Mikko Hirvonen, Jari-Matti Latvala and Khalid Al Qassimi – will carry the stunning black colour scheme that proved so popular during testing in France back in June in active competition for the first time on the upcoming event.

    The design is the same as the Fiesta RS WRCs sported on the opening ten rounds of the 2011 FIA World Rally Championship – except that this time, the car's base colour is black throughout, with white branding on top for Ford and its partners. Ford received a massive vote of approval after the livery was unveiled in the summer, following which a Facebook group was set up to petition the team to use the new look in a rally, and Ford of Europe motorsport chief Gerard Quinn has opted for the Strasbourg-based asphalt round.

    “We listened to what our fans wanted and discussed the idea with our partners at Abu Dhabi and Castrol,” he explained. “They were in favour, and I believe this colour scheme – allied to a close-to-the-ground asphalt set-up – brings a sexy, mean and moody look to the Fiesta RS WRC. It was one of the potential liveries we discussed when finalising the design for our cars at the start of the year.”

    Aside from the three official entries, six privately-run Fiesta RS WRCs will similarly compete in France for M-Sport Stobart nominated points-scorers Matthew Wilson and Mads Østberg as well as Henning Solberg and Evgeny Novikov, in addition to Ken Block behind the wheel of the Monster World Rally Team car and Dennis Kuipers for the FERM Power Tools World Rally Team.


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    more pics: crash.net/wrc/picturearchive/173276/1/photos

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    Ford paints it black with 'sexy, mean, moody' Fiesta

    Following a Facebook campaign, the Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team has re-liveried the Fiesta RS WRCs of Mikko Hirvonen, Jari-Matti Latvala and Khalid Al Qassimi for this weekend's Rallye de France

    'I see a line of cars and they're all painted black', sang Mick Jagger back in 1966, and his words clearly inspired the Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team, which will run its three Fiesta RS WRCs in a 'sexy, mean and moody' new livery on the Rallye de France next weekend.

    Following a concerted campaign by fans on the team's Facebook page, Ford's three cars – for Mikko Hirvonen, Jari-Matti Latvala and Khalid Al Qassimi – will carry the stunning black colour scheme that proved so popular during testing in France back in June in active competition for the first time on the upcoming event.

    The design is the same as the Fiesta RS WRCs sported on the opening ten rounds of the 2011 FIA World Rally Championship – except that this time, the car's base colour is black throughout, with white branding on top for Ford and its partners. Ford received a massive vote of approval after the livery was unveiled in the summer, following which a Facebook group was set up to petition the team to use the new look in a rally, and Ford of Europe motorsport chief Gerard Quinn has opted for the Strasbourg-based asphalt round.

    “We listened to what our fans wanted and discussed the idea with our partners at Abu Dhabi and Castrol,” he explained. “They were in favour, and I believe this colour scheme – allied to a close-to-the-ground asphalt set-up – brings a sexy, mean and moody look to the Fiesta RS WRC. It was one of the potential liveries we discussed when finalising the design for our cars at the start of the year.”

    Aside from the three official entries, six privately-run Fiesta RS WRCs will similarly compete in France for M-Sport Stobart nominated points-scorers Matthew Wilson and Mads Østberg as well as Henning Solberg and Evgeny Novikov, in addition to Ken Block behind the wheel of the Monster World Rally Team car and Dennis Kuipers for the FERM Power Tools World Rally Team.


    .


    more pics: crash.net/wrc/picturearchive/173276/1/photos

    .
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    WRC to pilot live web content during Rallye de France

    Stages from this week's Rallye de France Alsace will be streamed live and exclusive on the World Rally Championship's official website, wrc.com, as part of a pilot project to investigate future digital opportunities for the all-action series.

    World Rally Championship promoter North One Sport has made a substantial investment in the trial, which will be used to test the latest camera and streaming technology as well as to gauge the appetite among fans for live online coverage and more interactive content.

    Around 14 hours of coverage is planned, spread across Friday and Saturday’s competition, with the action available to view free of charge on a web media player accessed exclusively from the home page of wrc.com.

    The coverage on Friday (30 September) will run between 1300hrs and 2000hrs (local time), with action from Saturday (1 October) shown between 1245hrs and 1930hrs.

    On both days content will consist of interviews and atmosphere from the service park and the end of day press conferences. This will be mixed with stage action shot from two helicopters and by cameras mounted inside the rally cars. English and French commentary will be available.

    “The digital landscape presents numerous opportunities to further expand the reach of the World Rally Championship and this experiment is a big step forward in our plans to develop formats and content to suit,” said North One Sport CEO, Simon Long.

    “We have made a significant investment to get the project to this stage and it’s exciting that we are now ready to try and turn the theory into reality; however it’s important to make clear that this is a trial first and foremost and we expect to learn a great deal. This is unchartered territory, both technically and in terms of programming, but it’s a vital stage in our development plans for the next 12 months.”

    Click: wrc.com/news/wrc-to-pilot-live-web-content



    ....awesome
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    I'm going to try to catch some of that. Wondering what time to watch where you live? This might help:

    TimeTicker and the time tickers...
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    ^well since they are playing at LOCAL time in France so I would say then add or minus hours depending on your local time location.

    example: 12noon in France (they are 6hrs ahead of us) so that would be 6am(EST)
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    Shakedown



    Sebastien Loeb's bid to win Rallye de France Alsace has got off to the perfect start after he topped shakedown for the World Rally Championship round this morning.

    Although the 2.36-kilometre practice stage located at the Parc des Sports on the outskirts of Strasbourg is not considered to be wholly representative of the stages included on the competitive route, Loeb’s performance in dry conditions has nevertheless given him an early psychological advantage over his rivals.

    “I’m here above all to compete in a rally and to try and win it if possible,” said Loeb, the winner in Alsace in 2010. “Like last year I’ll have to concentrate on my race and try and ignore everything else that’s going on around me.”

    Loeb’s Citroen team-mate Sebastien Ogier was second fastest, two-tenths of a second slower with Dani Sordo impressing in his MINI John Cooper Works WRC.

    However, Campbell Roy of the MINI WRC Team said the Anglo-German squad was not about to get carried away by the performance.

    “We can’t read too much into it because the stage isn’t representative of what we’ll get on the rally,” said Roy. “But the car felt good and our drivers were comfortable and confident with the set-up.”

    Jari-Matti Latvala was fourth quickest in the new-look Ford Fiesta RS WRC, which is sporting an all-black colour scheme in France. Petter Solberg set the fifth fastest time in his privateer Citroen DS3 WRC with Kris Meeke completing the top six in his MINI.

    Henning Solberg was seventh with ex-Formula One world champion Kimi Raikkonen eighth on his return to the WRC after missing the previous round in Australia. Matthew Wilson, in an M-Sport Stobart Fiesta and Mikko Hirvonen rounded out the top 10.

    Here are the Shakedown times of the leading WRC crews:

    1. LOEB. Citroen DS3 WRC. 1:47.1
    =2. OGIER. Citroen DS3 WRC. 1:47.3
    =2. SORDO. MINI John Cooper Works WRC. 1:47.3
    4. LATVALA. Ford Fiesta RS WRC. 1:47.9
    5. P. SOLBERG. Citroen DS3 WRC. 1:48.1
    6. MEEKE. MINI John Cooper Works WRC. 1:48.2
    7. H. SOLBERG. Ford Fiesta RS WRC. 1:48.3
    8. RAIKKONEN. Citroen DS3 WRC. 1:48.5
    9. WILSON. Ford Fiesta RS WRC. 1:48.6
    10. HIRVONEN. Ford Fiesta RS WRC. 1:48.9
    11. OSTBERG. Ford Fiesta RS WRC. 1:49.0
    =12. VAN MERKSTEIJN JR. Citroen DS3 WRC. 1:49.7
    =12. ARAUJO. MINI John Cooper Works WRC. 1:49.7
    14. KUIPERS. Ford Fiesta RS WRC. 1:49.8
    15. OLIVEIRA. MINI John Cooper Works WRC. 1:51.9
    16. CAMPANA. MINI John Cooper Works WRC. 1:52.8
    17. AL QASSIMI. Ford Fiesta RS WRC. 1:53.1
    18. BLOCK. Ford Fiesta RS WRC. 1:53.8
    18. NOVIKOV. Ford Fiesta RS WRC. 1.58.7

    Click: wrc.com/news/=15448

    ....

    and folks dont forget...
    WRC to pilot live web content during Rallye de France

    Around 14 hours of coverage is planned, spread across Friday and Saturday’s competition, with the action available to view free of charge on a web media player accessed exclusively from the home page of wrc.com.

    The coverage on Friday (30 September) will run between 1300hrs and 2000hrs (local time), with action from Saturday (1 October) shown between 1245hrs and 1930hrs.


    .
    Last edited by Weasel 555; 09-29-2011 at 04:04 PM.
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    SS1: Loeb quickest



    Sebastien Loeb has gone fastest on the opening stage of Rallye de France Alsace. The French hero, the winner in Alsace last season, completed the opening stage with a time of 5m41.7s in his Citroen DS3 WRC, 2.6s quicker than Ford driver Jari-Matti Latvala.

    Loeb, running a hard compound Michelin tyre on his Citroen, said: “It was okay with no big risks because the tyres are quite cold in the morning. The road is very narrow and a bit tricky. I have two spares. For speed it’s one, but after the puncture in Germany we prefer to use two.”

    Latvala completed the stage with the second fastest time, albeit with minor cosmetic damage to the right-rear corner of his works Ford Fiesta RS WRC. The Finn opted for Michelin’s soft compound option. “The road was not actually as clean as I expected,” said the Finn, who edged out Citroen driver Sebastien Ogier.

    Mads Ostberg, back in the WRC after skipping Rally Australia, was quicker through the stage than factory Ford driver Mikko Hirvonen after reporting making significant gains with the set-up of his M-Sport Stobart entry.

    Hirvonen, meanwhile, said some of the steel poles inserted to prevent corner cutting had disappeared, which meant his pace notes were too cautious. “You don’t know if the poles are going to be there, some of them are, some of them aren’t,” said the Finn, who was 5.9s slower than title rival Loeb. “The notes are too slow now because some places we can cut.”

    Ex-Formula One world champion Kimi Raikkonen survived a trip through a ditch in his Citroen.

    Click: wrc.com/france ss1



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

    SS2: Ogier closes on Loeb



    Sebastien Ogier has slashed Citroen team-mate Sebastien Loeb’s lead on Rallye de France Alsace to 0.1s after topping the times through the Ungersberg stage.

    Ogier, who climbs ahead of Ford’s Jari-Matti Latvala into second, was 3.6s quicker than Loeb with Dani Sordo a sensational second fastest in his MINI John Cooper Works WRC to move into fifth in the overall classification.

    Former world champion Petter Solberg was fourth in his privateer DS3 WRC, with Mikko Hirvonen the fastest of the Ford Fiesta RS WRC drivers in fifth, 5.0s slower than Ogier. Team-mate Latvala was 6.3s off the pace.

    By setting the seventh fastest time Briton Kris Meeke has moved up to seventh place in his MINI. Portugal’s Armindo Araujo remains in the top 10 in his semi-works MINI.

    Click: wrc.com/france ss2



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

    SS3: Loeb out, Hirvonen in trouble

    There was drama on stage three of Rallye de France Alsace when both world championship title contenders hit trouble.

    Sebastien Loeb, in a Citroen DS3 WRC, stopped approximately 27 kilometres into the stage with a suspected technical failure, while Mikko Hirvonen suffered a brief off in his Ford Fiesta RS WRC early in the test.

    Hirvonen was able to complete the stage, albeit almost one minute slower than stage winner and new leader Sebastien Ogier.

    “I just went off a few kilometres from the start,” said Hirvonen. “There was so much mud in the wheel, the whole car was vibrating so much that I can’t see outside. The car was jumping, it was very difficult to drive. Really stupid. I am really far behind now, I have to step on it to get some points.”

    Ogier, in the second factory Citroen, said: “It’s a shame [for Loeb] but it’s just the start of the rally and a lot of work to do.”

    In another sensational twist, Jari-Matti Latvala also went off the road in his Fiesta. “We are on the soft tyre and it was difficult to drive,” said Latvala, who was 1m22.4s slower than Ogier. “I went off on a right/left combination and lost the rear of the car on the left. I Got on the grass and got stuck. We needed people to help us get back on.”

    Petter Solberg was 1.2s slower than Ogier after he admitted backing off slightly in his privateer Citroen. Mads Ostberg has moved into fourth in the overall classification despite reporting brake problems on his M-Sport Stobart Fiesta. The Norwegian is one place behind the flying Dani Sordo, who climbs into third in his MINI John Cooper Works WRC.

    There are reports that ex-Formula One world champion Kimi Raikkonen failed to start the stage after he went off the road warming his tyres prior to the start of the run. Raikkonen’s privateer Citroen is stuck in a ditch one kilometre from the stage start with broken front suspension.

    Click: wrc.com/france ss3



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

    SS4: Latvala wins stage



    Jari-Matti Latvala’s fight back from his stage three delay has begun after the Finn set the fastest time on the fourth test in his Ford Fiesta RS WRC to move ahead of Armindo Araujo and Dennis Kuipers in the overall classification. However, he remains almost 1m20s behind leader Sebastien Ogier, who was fourth quickest through the stage.

    Dani Sordo maintained his impressive start to Rallye de France Alsace with the second best run in his MINI John Cooper Works WRC. The Spaniard is now 6.6s behind Ogier and 1.6s adrift of second-placed Petter Solberg, in a privateer Citroen. Sordo’s team-mate Kris Meeke is fourth in the second MINI.

    Crews are now heading to the permanent service park on the outskirts of Strasbourg for a 30-minute halt. Stage five, the repeat of the 9.68-kilometre Klevener test, goes live at 1323hrs local time.

    Click: wrc.com/france ss4



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

    Freak crash puts Kimi out

    Kimi Raikkonen's co-driver Kaj Lindstrom has described the moment when they retired from Rallye de France Alsace following a bizarre incident on the road section heading to the third stage of the event.

    The Finns were in ninth overall after two stages in their ICE 1 Racing Citroen DS3 WRC when disaster struck on the liaison section prior to the 36-kilometre Pays d’Ormont test south west of the service park in Strasbourg this morning.

    Lindstrom told Wrc.com: “As usual we parked 2.5 kilometres before the stage start to put on our helmets and get strapped in before warming our tyres on the way to the control. On this occasion Henning [Solberg] went in front of us - even though he was behind us in the start order. He was snaking down the road to put some heat in the tyres and the brakes, and we were doing the same behind. But at some point we had to overtake so soon we caught up. Henning pulled into his lane, and we went to pass but suddenly he braked hard and we drove into the back of his car - his left-hand rear corner with our right-hand front. The impact broke one of our front suspension uprights. But this is what happens sometimes - no one is to blame. I explained this to Henning afterwards.

    Speaking to World Rally Radio, Solberg said: “He hit me on the left side, I saw his car in the air and then he disappeared into a ditch. He said it was not my fault and just to drive on.”

    It’s currently not clear if Raikkonen, the 2007 Formula One world champion, and Lindstrom will be able to restart on day two. “We are at the hotel now while the team look at the car. I can’t say whether we will be able to restart tomorrow,” said Lindstrom.

    Click: wrc.com/kimi out

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

    .....wow what a start to WRC France !!
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    SS5: Stage win for Ogier

    Sebastien Ogier has extended his lead of Rallye de France Alsace to 7.7s after he won the opening stage of the afternoon in his Citroen DS3 WRC.

    Ogier, who completed the test with a damaged roof vent on his car, said: “The stage was a bit dirty so I did not push so much.”

    Jari-Matti Latvala was second fastest in his Ford Fiesta RS WRC with Dani Sordo third quickest in his MINI John Cooper Works WRC to close to within 1.2s of second-placed Petter Solberg.

    Mikko Hirvonen was fifth quickest in his Fiesta and is now 1m03.1s behind Ogier as he tries to recover lost time following his off on stage three. “I’m happy with my car now but I need to find a good rhythm,” said Hirvonen.

    Click: wrc.com/france ss5



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

    SS6: Sordo and Solberg joint quickest



    MINI has claimed its first stage victory on a world championship rally after Dani Sordo shared the equal fastest time with Petter Solberg on the repeat of the Ungersberg test in his John Cooper Works WRC.

    Spaniard Sordo and Norwegian Solberg, in a privateer Citroen DS3 WRC, both recorded a time of 9m04.9s through the 15.45-kilometre run. As a result Solberg [pictured above] continues to hold second overall, 1.2s up on Sordo.

    Citroen Total World Rally Team driver Sebastien Ogier continues to lead Rallye de France Alsace. However, his advantage over Solberg has been trimmed to 5.0s after he could only set the fourth quickest time.

    Jari-Matti Latvala was the fastest Ford driver, 1.5s slower than Solberg and Sordo. His team-mate Mikko Hirvonen has demoted Mads Ostberg to sixth in the overall classification after going quicker than the M-Sport Stobart driver on the stage.

    Henning Solberg has moved ahead of Monster World Rally Team’s Ken Block into 10th place.

    Click: wrc.com/france ss6



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

    SS7: Solberg moves in front

    Petter Solberg has snatched the lead of Rallye de France Alsace after winning the seventh stage of the world championship qualifier in his privateer Citroen DS3 WRC.

    Solberg was 7.6s faster than former pacesetter Sebastien Ogier through the 36-kilometre test to lead by 2.6s with one stage of the opening day remaining.

    “I’m very happy about that, it’s really good fun,” said Solberg. “When the car is like this and you can really push I can tell you it’s good fun. It’s a very good feeling. The most important thing is we are fast.”

    Ogier was far from happy at the end of the stage. The factory Citroen driver said: “Something is wrong on the car. I drive not so bad but it’s impossible to go quickly. I’ve got a bad feeling with my engine.”

    Dani Sordo remains in third overall in his MINI John Cooper Works WRC after going third quickest. However, he has now closed to within 3.0s of Ogier.

    Jari-Matti Latvala was second quickest and has moved ahead of Mads Ostberg into fourth. Ostberg was 1m25.5s slower than Solberg through the stage after his M-Sport Stobart Fiesta picked up a suspected rear-left puncture.

    Mikko Hirvonen lost ground when he overshot a junction in his Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team Fiesta. “I lost the rhythm a little bit but it wasn’t too bad,” said the Finn.

    Click: wrc.com/france ss7



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

    SS8: Sordo takes the lead



    A MINI is leading a world championship rally for the first time after Dani Sordo shot ahead of Citroen privateer Petter Solberg with the fastest time on Friday’s final stage of Rallye de France Alsace.

    Sordo was fastest by 0.8s through the stage and now leads Solberg by 1.0s heading into the second day of the event. Sebastien Ogier, who had been out front at the start of the afternoon loop in his factory Citroen, is now 2.8s behind Sordo.

    “I’m really, really happy,” said the Spaniard. “We have been working so hard for this and now we’re in a good place. There are still two days [to go] but today has been really good. To be leading Citroen at home is very nice.”

    Solberg, who moved in front on stage seven, said: “There was so much gravel in some parts, it’s very tricky. I did a mistake in one corner. I was using used tyres to keep my new tyres for the last day. It’s hard work some times but I am trying hard.”

    Ogier reported a recurrence of the power issue that had hampered him on the previous run: “There is not the power as usual, we can be faster than that,” said Ogier. “I lose time all the time. It’s not okay.”

    Jari-Matti Latvala was second fastest in his Ford Fiesta RS WRC and has closed on fourth-placed Kris Meeke as a result. Meeke, in the second factory MINI, lost time with a spin.

    Click: wrc.com/france ss8



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


    .
    Last edited by Weasel 555; 09-30-2011 at 04:00 PM.
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    No restart for Loeb, Raikkonen

    Sebastien Loeb will not restart Rallye de France Alsace on Saturday, Citroen Racing team manager Sven Smeets has confirmed.

    Loeb stopped 26 kilometres into stage three this morning with a suspected engine failure. Although the exact cause of the fault won’t be known until a full inspection is carried out at the team’s base in Paris, Smeets said Loeb would not continue on day two, despite hopes that the glitch could be traced and fixed.

    “It’s impossible to continue but we have to wait to find out exactly what the problem is,” said Smeets. “We could not risk running this engine here and then having the problem come back in Spain [on the next round]. It’s a very big disappointment to retire but we have one car left with Sebastien Ogier and we want to win with him.”

    The last time Loeb failed to finish a round of the world championship was in Greece in 2009, two years, three months and 17 days ago after he and co-driver Daniel Elena suffered a high-speed crash.

    Like Loeb, Kimi Raikkonen, in a semi-works Citroen, will also play no further part on the world championship counter following his crash on the road section heading to stage three. Although damage to his car could have been easily fixed, the ex-Formula One world champion is already heading home.

    “It’s over, Kimi has gone,” Raikkonen’s team manager Benoit Nogier said. “He preferred to stop. This is very disappointing.”

    Click: wrc.com/news/no-restart-for-loeb-raikkonen

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

    its down to Hirvonen to lose this opportunity handed to him !!

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

    Friday WRC wrap



    MINI driver Dani Sordo has completed a thrilling first day of Rallye de France Alsace leading the world championship qualifier with 2.8s covering the top three drivers after the opening eight stages south of Strasbourg.

    Sordo had posted several rapid stage times in his John Cooper Works WRC during the morning loop before he shared the joint fastest time with Petter Solberg on stage six this afternoon. He then went quickest of all on Friday’s final test to take a lead of 1.0s over Solberg heading into day two.

    “I’m really, really happy,” said the Spaniard. “We have been working so hard for this and now we’re in a good place. There are still two days [to go] but today has been really good. To be leading Citroen at home is very nice but it’s only one day at the moment. I try to be flat again tomorrow.”

    Solberg, in a privateer Citroen DS3 WRC, moved in front when he edged out factory Citroen driver Sebastien Ogier on stage seven. Despite slipping behind Sordo on stage eight, the Norwegian said he was delighted with his speed on Friday.

    “It’s been absolutely fantastic today and I’m so happy to be fighting properly,” said Solberg. “I’m second just behind Sordo, it’s a perfect situation for me. But it’s been tough and the last stage I didn’t want to take any risks in the gravel after having five punctures in Germany.”

    ............Monster World Rally Team’s Ken Block had been in the top 10 until he lost time when Peter van Merksteijn Jr his Citroen and momentarily blocked the road on stage six. The Gymkhana FOUR star is in 13th behind Russian Evgeny Novikov and Super 2000 World Rally Championship leader Ott Tanak.

    Read More: wrc.com/Friday Wrap


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

    Friday SWRC wrap



    Ott Tanak has made the most of title rival Juho Hanninen's misfortune to head the Super 2000 World Rally Championship classification following the opening eight stages in France today.

    Tanak began the asphalt event in style by winning the opening test in his MM Motorsport Ford Fiesta S2000, before a front-right puncture to slow him down over the final four kilometres of stage two.

    His delay allowed Hanninen, in his Red Bull Skoda Fabia, to snatch the lead by 4.5s only for the Finn to suffer a puncture of his own on the very next test after he struck one of the steel poles being used to prevent drivers from taking ‘cuts’ through corners.

    “I don't think that the rods in bends are the best of solutions,” said Hanninen, who is in fourth position, 2m24.5s adrift of top spot. “One of the drivers ahead of us must have displaced one of them from its position to protrude into the road. When we hit it, the tyre went flat in no time. Anyway, we still have many kilometres to go, and we will do our best to get back to the game.”

    Tanak said: “Apart from the puncture we had a good run and now we have quite a comfortable lead but the rally is still very long so we have to stay focused in order to keep the car in one piece.”

    Read More: wrc.com/Friday SWRC wrap

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

    Friday WRC Academy wrap



    Craig Breen's bid to win the inaugural FIA WRC Academy Cup has received a huge boost on the opening day of Rallye de France Alsace.

    The Irishman, one of six Pirelli Star Drivers competing in the training category, reached Friday’s overnight halt in Strasbourg leading by 24.6s. With title leader Egon Kaur crashing out on stage three, Breen has been handed a tremendous opportunity to close the gap to his rival with one round remaining.

    “It’s a shame what happened to Egon, we were in exactly the same position in Sardinia earlier this season,” said Breen, who has claimed six bonus points for his sequence of stage wins. “We retired early on the Friday so we have to keep in mind that everything can happen. We are keeping a quite steady pace and not pushing overly hard.”

    Spaniard Yeray Lemes is second overall with Alastair Fisher third after he went fastest of all on stage six. The Northern Irishman, who spent a day last week driving VIP guests around a test stage in the United Kingdom in a Ford Fiesta RS World Rally Car, said: “We didn’t take any chances at all, there’s too much gravel on the road and it’s really easy to make a mistake. I’m here to get a finish.”

    Read More: wrc.com/news/friday-wrc-academy-wrap



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  12. #11

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    Day 2 -

    SS9: Ogier hits back




    Sebastien Ogier has hit back in his efforts to win Rallye de France Alsace for his factory Citroen team by winning Saturday’s first test, the 9.87 Hohlandsbourg run.

    Driving a works DS3 WRC, Ogier is now half a second behind second-placed Petter Solberg, in a privateer Citroen, and 0.8s adrift of leader Dani Sordo, at the wheel of a MINI John Cooper Works WRC.

    After completing the stage, located north west of the town of Mulhouse, Ogier said: “It’s a good start and it’s now very close. I am more confident now with the car after we fixed a small problem with the brakes. There was no fuel problem yester, because the roof vent had been broken there was no air in the car because of that.”

    Solberg reported a small amount of understeer but Sordo described his Prodrive-developed car as being “perfect”.

    Jari-Matti Latvala was the fastest of the Ford drivers, 4.5s slower than Ogier in his all-black Fiesta RS WRC.

    Click: wrc.com/france ss9



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

    SS10: Solberg back in front



    Rallye de France Alsace has a new leader after Petter Solberg charged into first place on the world championship qualifier following his fastest time through Saturday’s second stage.

    Solberg, in his self-run Citroen DS3 WRC, now heads erstwhile leader Dani Sordo’s MINI John Cooper Works WRC by 0.6s with Ogier 1.1s behind in third in his factory DS3.

    Kris Meeke, in the second MINI, continues to hold an impressive fourth overall on his Rallye de France Alsace debut. Jari-Matti Latvala was again the fastest of the factory Ford drivers in his Fiesta RS WRC. The Finn is now 14.9s behind Meeke in fifth.

    Click: wrc.com/france ss10



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

    SS11: Ogier leads

    Petter Solberg’s bid to win Rallye de France Alsace has suffered a huge blow after a front-right puncture slowed his privateer Citroen DS3 WRC.

    The Norwegian’s delay has allowed Sebastien Ogier to snatch top spot in his factory Citroen. Ogier, from France, won the stage and is now 3.3s ahead of MINI ace Dani Sordo, while Solberg is now 41.3s off the lead.

    “It was okay, it’s not easy to take maximum risks but we try to drive well,” said Ogier. “It’s difficult to make a difference. Now we are in a fight with Dani and we try to continue like this.”

    Jari-Matti Latvala was the quickest Ford driver in third, 4.7s slower than Ogier. Kris Meeke was fifth fastest, Mads Ostberg sixth and Dennis Kuipers seventh best for the FERM Power Tools World Rally Team.

    Evgeny Novikov is understood to have stopped in his M-Sport Stobart Fiesta.

    Click: wrc.com/france ss11



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

    SS12: Sordo reclaims first place



    Dani Sordo has reclaimed top spot on Rallye de France Alsace by winning the final stage of Saturday morning’s loop for the MINI WRC Team.

    Sordo, from Spain, now leads the world championship counter by 0.2s heading to the remote service halt in Colmar.

    Petter Solberg was second quickest through the stage but is 40.9s adrift of first place following his puncture on the previous test.

    Ogier, who had led after stage 11, said: “It’s a big fight but it’s okay for us. The downhill section was a bit difficult, there was gravel on the road because of the cars [ahead]. Dani is driving very well now, so I have to keep driving like this. The MINI is going well. You can’t do these times without a good car.”

    Jari-Matti Latvala has overtaken MINI driver Kris Meeke for fourth place in his Ford Fiesta RS WRC after Meeke suffered a spin. However, the Finn says he remains unhappy with his own performance due to the number of mistakes he is making.

    Mads Ostberg picked up a slow puncture in his M-Sport Stobart Fiesta, which has dropped him to 10th behind Dennis Kuipers, Armindo Araujo and Henning Solberg. Kuipers reported problems with the brakes on his FERM Power Tools World Rally Team Fiesta, while Araujo is adopting a cautious approach in his Motorsport Italia MINI after using his only spare tyre changing a puncture on stage 10.

    Click: wrc.com/france ss12



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



    ...another great morning with plenty of lead changes !
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  13. #12

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    Breen: Title dream alive despite exit

    Craig Breen has said he won't give up on winning the inaugural WRC Academy Cup despite missing out on a gilt-edged opportunity to close the gap to title leader Egon Kaur on Rallye de France Alsace.

    With Kaur retiring on Friday morning, Irishman Breen was well placed to cut his Estonian rival’s advantage only to crash out one kilometre from the end of this morning’s second stage in his Ford Fiesta R2.

    “It’s going to be a tall order [to win the title] now but there are 18 stages on [Wales] Rally GB and 18 points up for grabs [in addition to the 25 we could get for winning] so we’ll be giving it a try,” Breen told WRC.com. “It’s disappointing that we’re out but, not wishing to sound cocky, I’ve proved I’m the fastest driver here and I hope to get the recognition for that.”

    Breen, who is part of the Pirelli Star Driver programme, explained his off was the result of a pace note error: “I’ve made a hell of a lot of mistakes in my career but this time Gareth [Roberts] was a wee bit late with the note for a slow left corner. We went into a bank and broke the driveshaft. That’s why we couldn’t carry on.”

    Breen’s exit has promoted Yeray Lemes into the lead of the young driver-training category after 11 stages. Alastair Fisher is second with Jose Suarez third.

    Click: wrc.com/wrc academy breen

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

    Sat midday wrap



    It's been another morning of high drama on Rallye de France Alsace with three changes to the lead and a puncture dropping the unlucky Petter Solberg down to third.

    Overnight pacesetter Dani Sordo continues to hold top spot in his MINI John Cooper Works WRC after fighting back ahead of Sebastien Ogier by going fastest on stage 12. But with a slender 0.2s advantage over Ogier, the battle for World Rally Championship glory remains wide open.

    “It’s hard when you are fighting like this but really nice also,” said Sordo. “I’m really concentrating hard and my co-driver Carlos [del Barrio] is doing a really good job. The car is also going very well.”

    Ogier was quickest on stage nine and fastest again on stage 11 to snatch a lead of 3.3s prior to stage 12. “It’s a big fight but okay for us,” said the Citroen factory pilot. “The downhill section was a bit difficult, there was gravel on the road because of the cars [ahead]. Dani is driving very well now, so I have to keep driving like this.”

    Solberg began day two in second position but was leading after stage 10. However, a slow front-right puncture picked up halfway through the 22.26 Valle de Munster test means he has slumped 40.9s behind Sordo in his privateer Citroen.

    “Petter was driving as normal and didn’t report and problems or any big cuts so we’re very disappointed,” said Solberg’s team manager Ken Rees. “It looks like it was a slow puncture from the halfway mark from looking at the splits.”

    Read More: wrc.com/sat midday wrap


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  14. #13

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    SS13: Ogier sneaks ahead



    Sebastien Ogier is back in front on Rallye de France Alsace in his Citroen DS3 WRC. The Frenchman is 0.9s ahead of MINI John Cooper Works WRC driver Dani Sordo after he set the joint fastest time through the test with Citroen privateer Petter Solberg.

    Briton Kris Meeke has gone off the road on a patch of gravel in his MINI John Cooper Works WRC. Meeke and co-driver Paul Nagle are both uninjured although their car came to a rest some distance from the road and cannot continue.



    Read: wrc.com/meeke out

    Meeke’s exit hands 10 vital points to Ford’s Mikko Hirvonen in his efforts to close the gap to Sebastien Loeb in the overall championship standings. World champion Loeb retired on Friday’s third stage when his Citroen suffered an engine failure.

    Portugal’s double Production Car world champion Armindo Araujo is up to sixth in his Motorsport Italia MINI.

    Click: wrc.com/france ss13



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

    SS14: Ogier edges clear



    Sebastien Ogier has opened out a small advantage at the top of the Rallye de France Alsace leaderboard after he recorded his fourth fastest time of the day for the Citroen Total World Rally Team.

    Ogier, co-driven by fellow Frenchman Julien Ingrassia, took 8m16.3s to complete the 16.50-kilometre Firstplan stage in his DS3 WRC. He is now 4.2s in front of MINI John Cooper Works WRC pilot Dani Sordo, who started the afternoon loop of tests out front by a scant margin of 0.2s.

    Petter Solberg, in his privateer Citroen, strengthened his grip on the final podium spot with the third fastest time. The Norwegian is 43.0s behind Ogier following his early puncture.

    Jari-Matti Latvala was second quickest through the stage. However, the factory Ford ace has been handed a 10-second time penalty for a jumped start on the previous test.

    Mads Ostberg was an impressive fifth fastest in his M-Sport Ford Fiesta RS WRC, 1.9s quicker than works Ford driver Mikko Hirvonen.

    Click: wrc.com/france ss14



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

    SS15: Ogier pulling clear



    Sebastien Ogier’s lead of his home round of the world championship, Rallye de France Alsace, is up to 7.9s after he beat his closest rival Dani Sordo on the repeat of the Valle de Munster test.

    Driving a Citroen DS3 WRC, Ogier was 3.7s quicker than the factory MINI John Cooper Works WRC of Spaniard Sordo. Citroen privateer Petter Solberg is now 50.1s behind Ogier.

    “If Ogier continues to push like that it will be good for him,” said Sordo. “But I continue to do all the time my best with the car.”

    Ogier said: “This afternoon is going well for the moment but we still have to do another good run if we are to have a good lead tonight. I try to push a little bit more.”

    Click: wrc.com/france ss15



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

    SS16: Latvala flies



    Jari-Matti Latvala has claimed his first fastest stage time on the second day of Rallye de France Alsace. The factory Ford Fiesta RS WRC driver, who is fourth overall, was two seconds faster than Dani Sordo’s MINI John Cooper Works WRC on the 24.02-kilometre Grand Ballon test.

    Sordo’s effort means he has narrowed Sebastien Ogier’s overall lead to 7.0s with one stage of day two remaining, the 3.09-kilometre run through the streets of Mulhouse, which goes live at 1656hrs CET. The Spaniard reported at the stage finish that he was trying to keep us much pressure on Ogier as possible.

    Factory Citroen driver Ogier, meanwhile, said: “I am happy with this afternoon. I try to push when the road is clean but on this one it was dirty at the end so I prefer to drive [with more caution].”

    Petter Solberg was third fastest despite nursing minor front-right suspension damage on his privateer Citroen. Equipe de France FFSA MINI driver Pierre Campana was seventh fastest to maintain 10th position overall.

    Click: wrc.com/france ss16




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  15. #14

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    SS17: Ogier completes day two with stage win



    Sebastien Ogier’s pace through the Mulhouse town centre run could prove decisive in the battle for victory on Rallye de France Alsace, which concludes with six stages on Sunday.

    Citroen factory driver Ogier was 2.5s quicker than MINI pilot Dani Sordo through the short 3.09-kilometre test, which gives him an advantage of 9.5s starting day three. “It’s a little bit more but it’s still not comfortable because there are 40 kilometres still to go,” said Ogier.

    Petter Solberg was third fastest, despite reporting that his privateer Citroen was a handful due to the suspension damper problem he is nursing.

    In the battle for 10th spot Monster World Rally Team’s Ken Block has taken 1.1s out of Pierre Campana’s MINI.

    Click: wrc.com/france ss17



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

    Saturday WRC wrap

    Rallye de France Alsace is set for a thrilling final-day showdown with the top two drivers, Sebastien Ogier and Dani Sordo, separated by less than 10 seconds heading into the final six stages.

    Sordo began day two leading by one second in his MINI John Cooper Works WRC but was unable to halt Ogier’s charge on Saturday afternoon as the factory Citroen DS3 WRC driver went fastest on four stages to open up an advantage of 9.5s.

    “The lead is still not comfortable so we will have to drive well until the end,” said Ogier. “I will clean the road a bit in the morning because there is some gravel but if it’s foggy like it has been on all the mornings then it can be difficult for everybody and maybe a small advantage for me [because of the dust].”

    Sordo, who was quickest on stage 12, has vowed to maintain his push for an unlikely victory for the emerging MINI team, which is contesting only its fourth WRC event this week. “We are so close so we will see tomorrow,” said Sordo. “It’s a short day but difficult because we have some gravel and there could be some dust. I will still push for the win because we have nothing to lose. We did a big push today but it was not enough at the end but we try to continue like that.”

    Petter Solberg was leading when a puncture slowed his privateer Citroen on Saturday morning’s third stage. Undeterred he has continued to set a succession of top three stage times. However he is 51.9s adrift of top spot in third overall.

    “The pace has been great and that is fantastic,” said the Norwegian. “There was some damage after the puncture because there was some rubber in the damper so I am pleased I came through. We will see what can happen tomorrow.”

    Read More: wrc.com/Sat Wrap


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

    Saturday SWRC wrap



    Ott Tanak will start the final day of Rallye de France Alsace with a comfortable lead in the Super 2000 World Rally Championship section of the asphalt event.

    Tanak has been in control since the third stage on Friday in his MM Motorsport Ford Fiesta S2000. Despite reporting a minor engine glitch on Saturday afternoon, the Estonian is just six stages away from claiming his third SWRC victory of 2011 with a comfortable lead of 2m37.7s.

    “I’ve been trying to make no mistakes and get to the finish but I’ve also tried to be reasonably fast at the same time,” said Tanak. “It’s going to be a good battle now in the championship but we need to be at the finish.”

    If Tanak does remain in front then it will dramatically boost his chances of winning the SWRC crown after title leader Juho Hanninen went out on stage 12.

    “It was a long left [corner] that tightens after two kilometres, I braked too late and went wide into a ditch,” said the Red Bull Skoda driver. “There were a lot of spectators there to help me but there was no point because we could see that the car was damaged.”

    Although Hanninen will restart on Sunday morning under SupeRally regulations, he will face a tall order to break into the top four. “It will be close now for the final round, for sure I need to win in Spain to be the champion,” said Hanninen.

    Read More: wrc.com/Sat SWRC wrap


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

    WRC Academy wrap



    Spain's Yeray Lemes has claimed his maiden victory in the WRC Academy Cup after making the most of Craig Breen's exit on Saturday's second stage.

    Breen was seemingly in control when he slid into a bank one kilometre from the end of the run and broke a driveshaft on his Ford Fiesta R2, which caused his instant retirement from Rallye de France Alsace.

    “I’ve made a hell of a lot of mistakes in my career but this time Gareth [Roberts, my co-driver] was a wee bit late with the note for a slow left corner,” said the Irishman. “We went into a bank and broke the driveshaft. That’s why we couldn’t carry on.”

    Apart from a small gearbox problem, little troubled Lemes who held on to take victory by 42.3s ahead of Alastair Fisher, who celebrated his first podium in the young driver-training category. Jose Suarez made it two Spaniards in the top three when he finished third.

    “I’m very happy, we stayed on the road, kept focused and kept concentrating,” said Lemes, who has closed up to Egon Kaur in the title standings. Kaur crashed on Friday and again today to compound a miserable weekend for the Estonian.

    For Fisher, second place was a case of mission accomplished: “I didn’t push too hard, I just wanted to finish and get some points after a frustrating season.”

    Read More: wrc.com/Academy Wrap



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  16. #15

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    Day 3 -
    SS18: Araujo crashes, Sordo closes up




    The final day of Rallye de France Alsace has got off to a dramatic start with Armindo Araujo retiring his MINI John Cooper Works WRC less than half a kilometre into the fog-hit opening test.

    The Portuguese ace, Production Car world champion in 2009 and 2010, began day three in seventh position but hit trouble when he clipped a wall on a right-hand corner. He was able to continue but ground to a halt at the 400-metre mark.

    Dennis Kuipers strengthened his grip on sixth position with a stunning second fastest time through the mixed-surface test in his FERM Power Tools World Rally Team Fiesta.

    Out front Dani Sordo, who continues to carry one spare tyre rather than the two being used by the bulk of the crews for added precaution, has narrowed Sebastien Ogier’s lead to 6.4s despite reporting a lack of vision in the overhanging dust. “There was dust,” said the Spanish MINI ace. “I tried to push but I need to do more.”

    Factory Citroen driver Ogier said: “I didn’t want to take big risks on the gravel. I was more careful.”

    Monster World Rally Team’s Ken Block has moved ahead of Pierre Campana after setting the joint fourth quickest time in his Fiesta.

    Click: wrc.com/france ss18



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

    SS19: Sordo trims Ogier’s lead



    Dani Sordo has cut Sebastien Ogier’s overall lead to 4.9s with four stages of Rallye de France Alsace remaining after he topped the times through stage 19, the 10.61-kilometre Vignoble de Cleebourg test.

    Spanish driver Sordo was 1.5s quicker than Citroen star Ogier as he continues to eat into the Frenchman’s lead in pursuit of his and MINI’s maiden victory in the World Rally Championship.

    Petter Solberg dropped more than 20 seconds when he spun his privateer Citroen. However, the Norwegian still has a comfortable margin over fourth-placed Jari-Matti Latvala, who won Sunday’s opening stage in his factory Ford Fiesta RS WRC.

    Click: wrc.com/france ss19



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

    SS20: Rally rivals share time

    Sebastien Ogier and Dani Sordo have set the same time on the first run through the Haguenau street stage. It means Citroen driver Ogier’s lead over MINI’s Sordo on Rallye de France Alsace remains at 4.9s with three stages of the world championship qualifier left to run.

    However, it was Ford’s Jari-Matti Latvala who went fastest to claim his second stage win of the morning in his factory Fiesta.

    Click: wrc.com/france ss20



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

    WRC Academy wrap: Joy turns to despair for Lemes !

    Alastair Fisher has become the third different driver to triumph in the inaugural FIA WRC Academy Cup after on-the-road-winner Yeray Lemes was handed a five-minute time penalty for a repeat speeding infringement on a liaison section.

    Lemes appeared to have made the most of overnight leader Craig Breen’s exit on Saturday’s second stage to reach the finish in Strasbourg 42.3 clear of Fisher, who was celebrating his first podium in the young driver-training category following an accomplished performance on Rallye de France Alsace.

    However, Lemes’ celebrations were cut short when he was informed of the decision of the event stewards to drop him to third in the final classification, which promoted Fisher to first and Spaniard Jose Suarez to second.

    “Of course it’s disappointing to drop to third after receiving a five-minute penalty,” said Lemes. “However, it’s still great to have my second podium in a row and Alastair is a great driver so I am very happy for him.”

    Fisher said: “Lemes won the rally on the stages and he did an awesome job. Of course it’s good to win the WRC Academy here in France but let’s hope I can put in the times and win on home ground on Rally GB next month.”

    Read: wrc.com/wrc academy/lemes despair


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