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This is a discussion on WRC Rallye de France Oct 3-7 talk/results spoiler** within the Motorsports Talk forums, part of the Community - Meet other Enthusiasts category; Next Round 11 Rallye de France 04-07 Oct 12 Alsace is Sebastien Loeb country and it was highly fitting that ...

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    Cool WRC Rallye de France Oct 3-7 talk/results spoiler**

    Next Round 11 Rallye de France 04-07 Oct 12



    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 hometown 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 by enthusiastic spectators who gathered in there thousands. 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/en/

    Listen Live: worldrallyradio.com/

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    Shakedown

    Dani Sordo has gone fastest in shakedown for Rallye de France Alsace, round 11 of the FIA World Rally Championship.

    At the wheel of a MINI John Cooper Works WRC, Sordo set a fastest time of 2m34.1s through the 3.8-kilometre Parc des Sports-Hautepierre stage this morning. He was 0.3s faster than factory Ford pilot Jari-Matti Latvala with Petter Solberg 0.6s further back in his similar Fiesta.

    Sebastien Loeb, who can secure his ninth WRC drivers’ crown in France this week, covered the practice stage in 2m35.5s with Thierry Neuville 0.2s behind his fellow Citroen driver. Shakedown began in dry conditions at 07:30hrs local time this morning although there was light drizzle later in the morning.

    While Sordo’s Prodrive team played down the Spaniard’s effort, admitting the shakedown stage was not “indicative” of the bulk of the competitive route, it follows on the back of a successful pre-event test and the introduction of a new engine software calibration and an enhanced gear cut to improve shift speeds.

    “It's the first time I have driven the car with these changes, but it feels much better and stronger,” said Sordo. “I am also really pleased the FIA has agreed all WRC cars can have gravel notes. I am sure the times will be close this week, so every little bit of time we can find will help.”

    Mikko Hirvonen and Nasser Al-Attiyah were joined sixth fastest in their Citroens. Mads Ostberg was eighth quickest with Evgeny Novikov ninth and Ott Tanak 10th.

    Top 10 shakedown times

    1 Dani Sordo (MINI) 2m34.1s

    2 Jari-Matti Latvala (Ford) 2m34.4s

    3 Petter Solberg (Ford) 2m35.0s

    4 Sebastien Loeb (Citroen) 2m35.5s

    5 Thierry Neuville (Citroen) 2m35.7s

    6 Mikko Hirvonen (Citroen) 2m37.5s

    = Nasser Al-Attiyah (Citroen) 2m37.5s

    8 Mads Ostberg (Ford) 2m38.0s

    9 Evgeny Novikov (Ford) 2m39.4s

    10 Ott Tanak (Ford) 2m40.0s.

    click: wrc.com/news/sordo-sets-shakedown-pace

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

    SS1: Neuville tops Strasbourg test



    Thierry Neuville is the early leader of Rallye de France Alsace after he went fastest through the 3.63-kilometre Strasbourg stage this evening.

    Driving a Citroen DS3 WRC, the Belgian youngster set a 2m44.7s in increasingly fading light to top the leaderboard by 0.8s ahead of Jari-Matti Latvala, who said he made a small mistake in his factory Ford Fiesta RS WRC. Neuville, meanwhile reckoned he lost a few vital seconds sliding wide at one corner.

    Dani Sordo said he didn’t take many risks at the wheel of his Prodrive MINI John Cooper Works WRC after he shared the joint third fastest time with Mikko Hirvonen and Petter Solberg.

    Sebastien Loeb’s co-driver Daniel Elena’s protégé Sebastien Chardonnet impressed on his first WRC outing in a Citroen DS3 WRC by outpacing the eight-time world champions by 0.2s, 1.4s down on Neuville in sixth position.

    Loeb said: “It was okay but I struggled on the first loop because I was not so happy with my pace notes. We did the recce for this stage not in my normal recce car and the notes were a bit wrong. I tried to adjust my rhythm on the second lap.”

    Nasser Al-Attiyah suffered a spin in the second corner and dropped 20 seconds at the wheel of his Qatar World Rally Team Citroen. He reported a knock to his right-rear wheel in the process. Martin Prokop said his Fiesta was being hobbled by an engine misfire.

    Chris Atkinson reported a moment when he locked up the brakes of his WRC Team MINI Portugal entry. Yvan Muller suggested a power issue had slowed his Prodrive-run MINI, while Romain Dumas said he was experiencing understeer in his MINI.

    Craig Breen set the pace in the Super 2000 World Rally Championship, while Alastair Fisher was the fastest FIA WRC Academy runner, earning a championship point in the process. However, there was despair by category rival Timo van der Marel, who took the right-wheel off his Fiesta R2.

    Friday’s action begins with the 28.67-kilometre Hohlandsbourg-Firstplan test at 09:23hrs local time.

    click: wrc.com/news/france ss1




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    Friday
    SS2: Loeb takes lead


    Sebastien Loeb has moved in front in the battle for victory on Rallye de France Alsace by winning Friday’s opening test.

    The Citroen star, who is aiming to win the FIA World Rally Championship crown for a ninth time this weekend, completed the test in 14m36.1s, 3.5s faster than his team-mate Mikko Hirvonen.

    Loeb opted for four hard-compound Michelin tyres for what he described as mainly dry stage conditions. “I tried to push,” said Loeb, who now leads Hirvonen by 3.2s in the overall classification. “The road condition was quite dry, not tricky. There is no problem at the moment.”

    Behind Hirvonen, Jari-Matti Latvala was the leading Ford runner in third. The Finn was using soft-compound tyres on his Fiesta. While he suggested they weren’t ideal for this stage, he said his choice was made for the opening loop of three stages as a whole.

    Dani Sordo was the leading MINI pilot in fourth with Mads Ostberg fifth, Petter Solberg sixth and overnight leader Thierry Neuville seventh fastest with the Belgian ruing his decision to opt for soft tyres. Ott Tanak equalled Neuville’s time in his M-Sport Fiesta. The Estonian is running on hard tyres.

    click: wrc.com/news/france ss2



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

    SS3: Latvala snatches second



    Jari-Matti Latvala has demoted countryman Mikko Hirvonen for second place on Rallye de France Alsace with an impressive run through the event’s third stage.

    Latvala, in a Ford Fiesta RS WRC, was 0.8s slower than event leader Sebastien Loeb (Citroen DS3 WRC) and a full seven seconds faster than fellow Finn Hirvonen after benefitting from his decision to opt for four soft-compound tyres for the damp stage. “They were the best choice for this stage but Loeb also did an incredible time,” said Latvala.

    Loeb, meanwhile, bolted the two soft-compound tyres he was carrying as spares on the rear of his car and was satisfied with his performance during the run, which he said was more slippery than he expected.

    Mikko Hirvonen mirrored his Citroen team-mate’s tyre choice but said he wasn’t brave enough through the test, which featured some wet sections. The Finn was 7.8s slower as a result.

    Thierry Neuville was third fastest in his Citroen Junior entry, 2.9s down on Loeb. The Belgian’s performance puts him ahead of Petter Solberg into fifth overall behind MINI pilot Dani Sordo.

    Mads Ostberg edged Solberg in the battle to be top Norwegian by 1.1s, despite admitting to struggling for traction in the damp areas of the stage in his privateer Fiesta. Solberg, meanwhile, reported a lack of “feeling” in his Fiesta after going 10s slower than Loeb.

    click: wrc.com/news/france ss3



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

    SS4: Latvala narrows Loeb’s lead

    Jari-Matti Latvala has won Friday’s third stage to close to within 7.5s of Rallye de France Alsace leader Sebastien Loeb heading to the midday remote service in Colmar.

    Ford driver Latvala took 9m49.2s to complete the 19.93-kilometre course, which was 0.1s quicker than Loeb managed in his Citroen. “It’s going in the right direction and I’m very happy to be on the pace,” said Latvala, who is running soft-compound tyres on all four corners of his Fiesta. “I had to take little risks in the middle but overall I’m happy with the performance. It was really fast in the downhill section and the car was moving a bit.”

    Loeb, meanwhile, is using hard-compound Michelin tyres at the front of his Citroen DS3 WRC and soft tyres at the rear. He said: “I don’t know if it’s the best choice but I had to be careful in the fast dry section because of the rear tyres. The middle part was really tricky.”

    Petter Solberg said he made adjustments to the settings of his car and driving style on his way to third fastest in his Fiesta, 3.7s down on team-mate Latvala.

    Thierry Neuville had been on course for a top time but lost ground in the downhill section due to the settings of his Citroen being too soft for the conditions. Nevertheless he has moved ahead of MINI pilot Dani Sordo into fourth overall. Citroen’s Mikko Hirvonen, who was fifth quickest, reckoned his pace notes weren’t fast enough.

    click: wrc.com/news/france ss4




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    Friday midday wrap:



    Sebastien Loeb is on course to make it nine FIA World Rally Championship titles in a row after reaching the midday service halt in Colmar leading Rallye de France Alsace by 7.5s following Friday's opening trio of stages.

    Loeb, in a Citroen DS3 WRC, can clinch the coveted crown in France by beating team-mate Mikko Hirvonen. He was fastest on the opening brace of stages, held in a mixture of dry and damp conditions, but couldn’t stop Latvala from going quickest by 0.1s on stage four aboard his Ford Fiesta RS WRC.

    “The first two stages were really good but I don’t know if my tyre choice was the best choice for the last stage,” said Loeb, who left service in Strasbourg this morning on four hard-compound tyres with two soft options as spares, which he bolted on to the rear for stages three and four.

    Latvala, running soft tyres all round, said: “It’s going in the right direction and I’m very happy to be on the pace. I had to take little risks in the middle [part of stage four] but overall I’m happy with the performance. It was really fast in the downhill section and the car was moving a bit.”

    Behind Hirvonen, Thierry Neuville, who was fastest on Thursday’s stage through the streets of Strasbourg, is fourth, 20.6s down on Loeb in his Citroen Junior World Rally Team entry. Dani Sordo is fifth in his Prodrive MINI John Cooper Works WRC. He said he would be making set-up changes to the car in service in Colmar.

    Petter Solberg, who was third fastest on stage four, is sixth for the factory Ford team with Fiesta privateer Mads Ostberg seventh, Ott Tanak eighth and Evgeny Novikov in ninth. Chris Atkinson is 10th for WRC Team MINI Portugal, one place ahead of Sebastien Chardonnet, who is using his DS3 WRC in competition for the first time.

    Sebastien Ogier heads a close battle with Volkswagen Motorsport team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen in 12th place in their Super 2000 Skoda Fabias. Martin Prokop is 14th despite a misfire with Qatar World Rally Team’s Nasser Al-Attiyah 15th. Le Mans racer Romain Dumas is 17th with multiple Touring Car world champion Yvan Muller 21st.

    Craig Breen heads the Super 2000 World Rally Championship standings ahead of Hayden Paddon, who dropped a handful of seconds with a high-speed spin on stage four.

    Elfyn Evans tops the WRC Academy standings by 35.1s. Alastair Fisher, who led after the class after stage one, has retired due to an engine glitch on stage three.

    click: wrc.com/news/friday-midday-wrap


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    SS5: Loeb hits back

    Sebastien Loeb has responded to Jari-Matti Latvala’s threat by winning stage five of Rallye de France Alsace.

    The French driver was 6.3s quicker than Latvala - the winner of the previous stage - on the repeat of the Hohlandsbourg-Firstplan test to pull 13.8s clear in the chase for glory on round 11 of the FIA World Rally Championship.

    “The road was okay, more dry than in the morning,” said Citroen ace Loeb, who is running on hard-compound Michelin tyres like the bulk of his rivals. “There was a bit more mud on the road in some places but we had good information from the gravel crew so we know where it is. Jari-Matti is going very fast so we have to push.”

    Ford pilot Latvala said he lost time going off the road and running through a ditch: “We went wide on a left-hander where there was gravel on the road. I tried to get the line and stay away from the cuts but I went out into a ditch for quite a while.”

    Petter Solberg said he was more confident behind the wheel of his Fiesta. He completed the stage 3.4s slower than Loeb. Mikko Hirvonen was 3.9s slower than Loeb and frustrated after reporting several corner marking posts had moved following the pre-event reconnaissance. Mads Ostberg, meanwhile, said the set-up of his Fiesta was too low to the ground, which resulted in a loss of time.

    Thierry Neuville has dropped from fourth to sixth following a spin in his Citroen. Solberg climbs from sixth to fourth while Dani Sordo continues to hold fifth overall in his MINI, despite saying he wasn’t happy with the handling of his car.

    click: wrc.com/news/france ss5



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

    SS6: Solberg closes Hirvonen



    Petter Solberg has closed up to within 4.6s of Mikko Hirvonen as the fight for third place on Rallye de France Alsace intensifies.

    Driving a Ford Fiesta RS WRC, the Norwegian was 1.9s quicker than Hirvonen. He said: “We have a much better tyre compound and it’s a much better feeling. I was leading Loeb after two kilometres but I am satisfied with my time.”

    Citroen ace Hirvonen said: “I consistently lose a bit of time here and there so I am not so happy but I try to fight back. It was better than in the morning.”

    Out front, Ford’s Jari-Matti Latvala has won his second stage of the FIA World Rally Championship qualifier to trim Citroen-driving Sebastien Loeb’s overall lead to 12.4s

    “I tried to stay as much on the Tarmac as possible,” said Latvala. “I struggled on the first one with too much gravel on the road and I made mistakes. It’s difficult but I try to keep the fight going with him.”

    Thierry Neuville said he struggled to see the road in places because of the sun. He was 7.4s slower than Latvala and remains in sixth overall behind MINI runner Dani Sordo, who reported brake problems.

    click: wrc.com/news/france ss6



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

    SS7: Loeb makes it four



    Sebastien Loeb will head to the day-closing Mulhouse town centre stage tonight leading Rallye de France Alsace by 15.6s following his victory on the repeat of the Soultzeren-Pays Welche test.

    Citroen ace Loeb had been coming under increasing pressure from Ford driver Jari-Matti Latvala but his fastest time, by 3.1s over Latvala’s team-mate Petter Solberg, hands him a slightly more comfortable advantage.

    Latvala, was third fastest, 3.2s down on Loeb, said: “In the dirty places where there is mud and gravel we are struggling but where it is clean then it is fine for us.”

    Solberg, meanwhile, is 2.1s behind third-placed Mikko Hirvonen despite reporting a slight loss of time at a hairpin. Fellow Norwegian Mads Ostberg also dropped a few seconds after going off the road a few times.

    The 4.65-kilometre Mulhouse stage goes live at 18:35hrs local time.

    click: wrc.com/news/france ss7




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

    SS8: Street stage win for Latvala



    Jari-Matti Latvala has maintained his solid start to Rallye de France Alsace by winning the final stage of day one, the Mulhouse street test.

    Latvala, in a Ford Fiesta RS WRC, was 0.3s faster than team-mate Petter Solberg with Mikko Hirvonen edging rally leader and fellow Citroen driver Sebastien Loeb in third. Loeb’s overall lead heading to service in Strasbourg is 13.1s.

    “It’s a good time but I think it’s better to be further back because the rubber on the road was building up, which gives more grip,” said Latvala, who has won three stages during the course of the day. “Loeb didn’t have that so we were able to benefit.”

    Mads Ostberg had to start the stage and cover the opening metres in road mode after the engine in his Adapta Fiesta stalled before the start.

    Thierry Neuville completed the stage with damage to the rear right corner of his Citroen, which included a cracked wheel rim. “I spin and we were quite lucky that the car was okay,” said the Belgian. “The tyres were colder than I expected at the first corner and I spin.”

    Crews are now heading back to the overnight halt in Strasbourg. Saturday’s action begins with the Masif des Grands Crus - Ungersberg stage at 08:38hrs local time.

    click: wrc.com/news/france ss8



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

    Friday SWRC wrap:

    A slender margin of 2.2s separates FIA Super 2000 World Rally Championship chargers Hayden Paddon and Craig Breen following a thrilling opening day of Rallye de France Alsace.

    Paddon and Breen have swapped the lead throughout the day with Breen reaching the midday halt in Colmar in front after Paddon suffered a high-speed spin on stage four. Breen maintained his advantage until stage six when Paddon snatched the lead, which he will hold at the overnight halt in Strasbourg.

    “We’re happy to get to end of first day without too many problems,” said New Zealander Paddon, who drives a Skoda Fabia S2000. “Other than the spin it’s been a good day. We’ve not been on the limit, just trying to learn where the grip is and how the car handles on Tarmac.”

    Breen, in a Ford Fiesta S2000, said: “It’s been a good battle and tomorrow’s going to be another good, good day.”

    P-G Andersson, who tops the SWRC title standings by eight points over Breen and Paddon, is third overnight in his PROTON Motorsports entry. “It wasn’t in the plan to let them drive away but I wasn’t able to fight with them, they’ve been much quicker. The first day is over and there’s still a long way to go.”

    Read More: SWRC friday wrap

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

    Friday WRC Academy wrap:

    Elfyn Evans heads the FIA WRC Academy section of Rallye de France Alsace by a margin of 1m14.1s. But with 192.80 kilometres of competitive running prior to Saturday night's finish, the Welshman admits the battle for victory is far from won.

    “We’re feeling good and it’s a reasonably comfortable lead but tomorrow is a long day and we’ve got to keep on going,” said the Briton.

    Jose Suarez completed the day-closing Mulhouse street stage with a punctured front-right tyre. Nevertheless the Spaniard holds second overnight with John MacCrone a heroic third after a gearbox issue held him back and left him without the use of second gear. However, an overnight change should enable the Scot to fight for more stage wins on Saturday’s final day.

    Fredrik Ahlin, from Sweden, completed day one in fourth place despite damage to his Fiesta’s tracking following an earlier hit.

    Brendan Reeves, second in the title standings behind Evans, languishes in fifth after he was forced to stop to change a puncture eight kilometres into Friday’s first test. The Australian hit back with several rapid stage times. Swede Pontus Tidemand lost several minutes when his car’s engine cut out on stage five.

    Briton Alastair Fisher’s WRC Academy title hopes suffered a heavy blow when he retired with engine failure on stage three.

    click: WRC Academy friday wrap

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

    WRC Friday wrap:

    Sebastien Loeb will start day two of Rallye de France Alsace leading the FIA World Rally Championship qualifier by 13.1s.

    Loeb, who can become world champion for a ninth time by beating Citroen team-mate Mikko Hirvonen on the asphalt counter based in Strasbourg, has won four of day one’s eight all-asphalt stages with second-placed Ford driver Jari-Matti Latvala claiming three stage bests to remain firmly in the fight for top spot.

    “It’s been a good day with no problems at all,” said Loeb. “We’ve done the right tyre choices but it’s been a big push because Jari has been pushing very hard.”

    Latvala said he lost ground on the day’s penultimate stage on sections where mud and gravel had been dragged onto the road. Nevertheless the Finn revealed it had been one of his best performances on asphalt in the WRC: “We’re still a bit up and down and not as consistent as it should be. But we are still in the fight and it’s still going on.”

    Behind Latvala, Mikko Hirvonen, in the second works Citroen, holds a narrow advantage of 0.7s over Latvala’s Ford team-mate Petter Solberg in the battle for third.

    Dani Sordo’s ultimate pace was masked by set-up and brake issues on his MINI John Cooper Works WRC. The Spaniard is fifth overall, one place ahead of Thierry Neuville, who showed plenty of pace in the morning but was slightly more circumspect in the afternoon following a spin in his Citroen Junior DS3 WRC.

    Mads Ostberg is seventh in his Adapta Fiesta with M-Sport Fiesta pilots Ott Tanak and Evgeny Novikov eighth and ninth respectively. Sebastien Chardonnet, competing in a Citroen DS3 WRC in the world championship for the first time, demoted WRC Team MINI Portugal’s Chris Atkinson for 10th overall on stage five.

    Read More: WRC friday wrap

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    Saturday
    SS9: Solberg hits trouble




    Petter Solberg’s bid for a podium finish on Rallye de France Alsace is over after the Ford driver went off the road on Saturday’s opening stage.

    Solberg started day two 0.7s behind Mikko Hirvonen in the fight for third place only to shoot off the road on a fast left-hand bend into a vineyard where he struck and felled a telegraph pole as he battled to regain control of his Fiesta RS WRC.

    There were no such problems for Sebastien Loeb who has grown his overall lead on the FIA World Rally Championship round to 15.2s after going faster than closest rival Jari-Matti Latvala by 2.1s.

    “It was very difficult,” said the Citroen DS3 WRC driver. “There are some very fast and bumpy sections at the end of the stage, which I don’t like. It was a good start to the stage but the end I don’t like.”

    Conversely, Latvala said he was happier with his performance at the end of the run after struggling initially in his Fiesta RS WRC.

    Hirvonen, meanwhile, impressed by completing the stage 1.9s slower than Citroen team-mate Loeb. Solberg’s misfortune has propelled Dani Sordo into fourth, albeit with a slender margin of 2.1s over the pursuing Belgian Thierry Neuville. The Spaniard was delayed when he came to a stop in his Prodrive MINI after hitting a rock at a hairpin.

    Russian Evgeny Novikov lost time missing a junction in his M-Sport Fiesta.

    click: wrc.com/news/france ss9

    Video: wrc.com/video-rally-france-solberg-off-in-ss9



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

    SS10: Latvala drops back



    Jari-Matti Latvala has slipped back in his pursuit of Rallye de France Alsace leader Sebastien Lob after he went off into a ditch early in the longest stage of the FIA World Rally Championship counter.

    The Finn took 18.0s more than Loeb to complete the test following his error, slipping 33.0s behind the Citroen driver in the overall classification. His advantage over third-placed Citroen pilot and countryman Mikko Hirvonen is now down to 10.8s with two stages of Saturday morning’s loop left to run.

    “Suddenly we went onto a wet section, which was a surprise for me and we went into a ditch,” said the Finn, whose Ford Fiesta RS WRC was sporting front-right damage at the stage finish.

    Loeb said: “We have done a good stage because we have increased our lead and we will see the gap after the stage. It’s important to keep a good rhythm and that’s what we try to do.”

    Hirvonen, meanwhile, impressed with the second fastest time, 9.5s slower than Loeb. Ford privateer Mads Ostberg shone with the third fastest time with MINI’s Dani Sordo and Thierry Neuville next up.

    Chris Atkinson reported a “lack of feeling” aboard his WRC Team MINI Portugal entry. Nasser Al-Attiyah has stopped in the stage in his Qatar World Rally Team Citroen with reports that he’s gone off the road.

    click: wrc.com/news/france ss10



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

    SS11: Neuville demotes Sordo

    Thierry Neuville has overtaken Dani Sordo for fourth place on Rallye de France Alsace amid suggestions the young Belgian will incur a time penalty due to an issue at a control on the FIA World Rally Championship counter.

    Neuville, in a Citroen Junior World Rally Team DS3 WRC, was 3.4s faster than MINI John Cooper Works WRC driver Sordo through the stage to move 0.3s ahead of his rival, despite dropping his rear wheels off the road sliding wide at a hairpin.

    Mads Ostberg, in sixth overall, is now 1.8s behind Sordo after he also went quicker than the Spaniard.

    Out front, Jari-Matti Latvala has hit back from his off-road moment on stage 11 by beating Sebastien Loeb to the fastest time through Pays de la Haute Bruche. He was 3.2s quicker than Loeb but remains 30s down on the Frenchman in the overall classification. “I love stages like this, I don’t like driving in forests when it’s damp,” said the Ford Fiesta RS WRC driver. “I try but Sebastien has shown how strong he is on Tarmac. I am closer to him but I still need to work to be a good Tarmac driver.”

    Loeb adopted a slightly more cautious approach through the stage in his Citroen DS3 WRC. He said: “I had a good lead before the stage so I didn’t start very aggressive and it was a bit difficult for me,” said Loeb. “The road was between dry and humid and I didn’t know what was the grip. I was struggling a bit so I have to push harder in the next one.”

    Evgeny Novikov was fifth fastest in his M-Sport Fiesta despite a moment when he touched a patch of gravel running in sixth gear.

    click: wrc.com/news/france ss11



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

    SS12: Cancelled

    Stage 12 of Rallye de France Alsace has been cancelled due to excessive numbers of spectators trying to gain vantage points in order to follow the dramatic action from round 11 of the FIA World Rally Championship.

    Crews will now drive through the stage at liaison speed before heading to the Strasbourg Zenith (pictured) for the midday service halt.

    Sebastien Loeb, from France, leads the all-asphalt event in his Citroen DS3 WRC. He is 30.0s clear of Ford Fiesta RS WRC pilot Jari-Matti Latvala. Mikko Hirvonen, in a second Citroen, holds third.

    Stage 13, Massif des Grands Crus-Ungersberg 2, is scheduled to get underway at 14:38hrs local time.

    click: wrc.com/news/france ss12



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    SS13: Latvala and Hirvonen share stage best



    Jari-Matti Latvala plans to continue pushing on Rallye de France Alsace after clocking the joint fastest time with Mikko Hirvonen through the repeat of Masif des Grands Crus - Ungersberg.

    Latvala, in a Ford Fiesta RS WRC, took 10m53.8s to complete the test, a performance mirrored by Hirvonen in a Citroen DS3 WRC.

    “It’s good to put a bit of pressure on even though we’re still far away from Sebastien,” said Latvala. “Now we need to keep going like this because the car feels very good. I will need to take more risks but they need to be controlled risks.”

    Hirvonen, who is 19.0s behind Latvala, added: “I try to have a good rhythm and keep the pressure on. If the gap is not getting any bigger then he can’t afford any mistakes so we try to stay close.”

    Thierry Neuville was third fastest, 0.4s down on Latvala and Hirvonen but slips from fourth to sixth overall after his 20-second penalty for a late check-in at stage 11 was added to his total time. “The set-up of the car feels good and the good information I get from my gravel crew means I can measure where to take risks or slow down,” said the young Belgian.

    Russian Evgeny Novikov impressed with the fourth best time in his M-Sport Fiesta with event leader Sebastien Loeb 3.0s slower than Latvala. The Citroen ace continues to head the Finn in the overall classification by 27.0s. Mads Ostberg was sixth quickest to remain firmly in the battle with MINI pilot Dani Sordo for fourth.

    click: wrc.com/france ss13



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

    SS14: Hirvonen to fight for second

    Mikko Hirvonen says he has no plans to settle for third place on Rallye de France Alsace after narrowing his deficit to Jari-Matti Latvala on the FIA World Rally Championship qualifier.

    Hirvonen, who is suffering from a heavy cold, was 1.2s faster than fellow Finn Latvala through the repeat of the Strasbourg-based event’s longest stage. The Citroen driver, who was 0.7s off stage winner Sebastien Loeb’s pace, now trails his Ford rival by 17.8s with two stages remaining until the overnight halt.

    “We didn’t take a lot of time out of Jari-Matti but we will see what will happen and for sure I will try,” said Hirvonen, who survived a brief off-road moment.

    Ford privateer Mads Ostberg has moved ahead of Dani Sordo into fourth overall despite going off into a ditch after overshooting a hairpin. Sordo, meanwhile, said he couldn’t go any faster in his MINI. Thierry Neuville reckoned he dropped four seconds when he stalled the engine of his Citroen. The Belgian driver remains in sixth overall.

    Evgeny Novikov suffered a spin on a right-hand corner one kilometre before the finish. Meanwhile, stage winner Loeb has extend his overall advantage to 28.9s despite reporting worsening understeer on his factory Citroen. Jari-Matti Latvala remains in second place after going third quickest in his works Fiesta.

    click: wrc.com/france ss14



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

    SS15: Loeb maintains victory push



    Home hero Sebastien Loeb has restored his 30-second lead on Rallye de France Alsace with his ninth stage win of round 11 of the FIA World Rally Championship.

    Jari-Matti Latvala was 1.4s slower than Loeb after admitting to making a small mistake near the stage finish. “It was a little mistake but Loeb was very quick, I need to be more consistent,” said the factory Ford pilot.

    Finn Mikko Hirvonen feared he’d picked up a puncture after striking a loose rock in the road on board his Citroen DS3 WRC. He was third fastest, 5.8s down on team-mate Loeb. As a result he now trails Latvala by 22.2s in the battle for second place.

    Thierry Neuville is continuing to fight back after being saddled with a 20-second time penalty earlier in the day. He is now just 5.2s behind the Spanish MINI driver with fourth-placed Mads Ostberg a further 3.0s ahead. Ostberg said he couldn’t go any faster in his Adapta Fiesta.

    Ott Tanak stalled at the stage start, reporting a possible problem with his car’s launch control. Martin Prokop and Daniel Oliveira both reported high-speed spins in sixth gear in their similar Fiesta.

    click: wrc.com/france ss15



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

    SS16: Novikov impresses as Latvala sets pace

    Evgeny Novikov has completed day two of Rallye de France Alsace by narrowly missing out on a fastest stage time in his M-Sport Ford Fiesta RS WRC.

    Novikov was 0.3s slower than stage winner, the factory Ford driver Jari-Matti Latvala, through the day-closing Klevener test, which didn’t run this morning due to crowd congestion.

    “I’m happy of course, I’m trying to fight what else I can do?” said the Russian, who is eighth in the overall standings behind team-mate Ott Tanak. “I am satisfied with my day and I have enjoyed a lot the stages. The tyre choice has been good for this afternoon with five hard tyres.”

    Latvala’s stage win, by 0.6s over Loeb, means he is 29.7s behind Citroen’s eight-time world champion Sebastien Loeb heading to the overnight halt. “Without my mistake this morning it could be an interesting fight with Loeb,” said Latvala. “But I have learned a lot today and it’s important for the future.”

    Latvala’s pace through the final test means he is 24.3s ahead of Mikko Hirvonen in the battle for second place. Hirvonen, in the second factory Citroen, was 2.1s slower than Latvala.

    Meanwhile, Mads Ostberg has increased his margin over fifth-placed Dani Sordo to 4.1s but said he still needs to improve aboard his Adapta Fiesta: “We’re too much up and down, some stages we’re doing really well, some stages we’re driving really bad. I don’t know what to do.”

    click: wrc.com/france ss16




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    Saturday WRC Academy wrap: Evans wins to take title



    Elfyn Evans has made it four wins out of five in the FIA WRC Academy on Rallye de France Alsace to become the provisional champion of the young driver-training series for 2012.

    Evans took the lead from Alastair Fisher on Saturday’s opening test. While Fisher and fellow title rival Brendan Reeves were delayed, Evans enjoyed two days of trouble-free running to clinch the coveted spoils.

    He will now choose between a prize drive in Ford Fiesta R2 on all 13 rounds of next year’s world championship or a five-event campaign in a Fiesta S2000, once his title success is ratified by the FIA, motorsport’s world governing body.

    “It’s fantastic, I can’t believe we’ve won it with one round to go,” said Evans, who was co-driven by fellow Welshman Phil Pugh. “Since Greece we’ve taken four wins on the trot, which is unbelievable. We’ll have to sit down and think carefully about [what prize we take up next year].

    “We’ve had no problems today, we’ve had to be careful and it’s been a fine line between not pushing too much and being too cautious. It’s been a long day and I’ve tried not to make any mistakes.”

    Behind Spaniard Jose Suarez, John MacCrone secured the final podium spot after dropping 20 seconds when he spun twice on Saturday’s opening stage.

    Australian Reeves dropped out of contention with a puncture on day one but fought back to finish fourth after he demoted Swede Fredrik Ahlin for the place on the penultimate stage. Pontus Tidemand took sixth with Timo van der Marel seventh.

    South African Ashley Haigh-Smith did not start the event due to financial reasons and has been excluded from the series in accordance with the regulations.

    click: WRC Academy saturday wrap

    Congratulations to Elfyn Evans

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

    Saturday SWRC wrap:



    Hayden Paddon will start the final day of Rallye de France Alsace with a lead of almost two minutes in the FIA Super 2000 World Rally Championship.

    Paddon had been in a close battle with Craig Breen starting day two but was edging clear when a rear differential issue slowed Breen in the afternoon to the extent he slipped behind Yazeed Al-Rajhi on the final stage.

    “It’s not been a bad day and we’ve been able to extend our lead after Craig had his problem,” said New Zealander Paddon, who drives a Skoda Fabia Super 2000. “With virtually no pre-event testing it’s not been a bad effort for our first time on Tarmac with this car.”

    Breen’s problems began when he suffered a spin on stage 13 but his biggest cause for concern occurred at the stage finish when a rear differential problem was discovered on his Ford Fiesta S2000.

    PROTON Motorsports’ P-G Andersson was in a relatively comfortable third place despite suffering a spin on stage 11. However, a right-rear puncture slowed him down and dropped him to fourth behind Yazeed Al-Rajhi. And it got worse for the Swede who started stage 14 behind schedule before stopping within the run due to a suspected alternator failure.

    He is due to restart on Sunday but his retirement could have disastrous consequences for his SWRC title bid having begun the event with a narrow eight-point lead over Breen and Paddon.

    More: SWRC saturday wrap

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

    Saturday wrap:



    Sebastien Loeb is six stages and 61.54 timed kilometres away from winning the FIA World Rally Championship for a ninth time after he completed day two of Rallye de France Alsace with a lead of almost half a minute.

    Citroen pilot Loeb, who was born close to the event base in Strasbourg, began day two in a close battle with Ford driver Jari-Matti Latvala. However, when Latvala slid into a ditch on the day’s second stage and dropped some 20s, the path was clear for Loeb to extend his overall advantage, which stands at 29.7s at the overnight halt.

    “Today has been good with no problems,” said Loeb. “I have felt pressure all day but I didn’t take any risk as I don’t need to win to be world champion. There could be rain and tricky weather tomorrow so it could be a great day for Citroen but it could also be a difficult final day.”

    Latvala, meanwhile, hit back with three stage wins but admitted he needs to find more consistency in order to close the gap to leader Loeb. “My speed was good again today, although I’m disappointed I made a mistake this morning,” said the Finn. “Tomorrow’s stages are short so it will be difficult to attack. But I’m thinking more about preserving second than trying to win, which will be almost impossible unless Loeb makes a mistake. My car is fast enough to win the rally, but it’s the driver that has to improve.”

    Mikko Hirvonen, in the second factory Citroen and the only driver capable of preventing Loeb from claiming the world title, is third overnight, 24.3s behind Latvala having suffered from a heavy cold throughout the day.

    Petter Solberg had high hopes of overhauling Hirvonen for third place starting day two only to crash out in spectacular fashion when he felled a telegraph pole as he battled to regain control after going off the road on a fast left-hand bend. Like Nasser Al-Attiyah, who retired on stage 10, he is due to restart under Rally 2 rules on Sunday.

    Mads Ostberg demoted Prodrive MINI runner Dani Sordo for fourth with an impressive display in his Adapta Fiesta. However, both will be under threat from Thierry Neuville who slipped to sixth after he was handed a 20-second time penalty for an early check-in at the start of stage 11.

    More: WRC saturday wrap


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    SS17: Neuville quickest in the rain


    Thierry Neuville has taken fifth place on Rallye de France Alsace after claiming his second stage win on the FIA World Rally Championship qualifier based in Strasbourg.

    Neuville, in a Citroen DS3 WRC, was 4.5s faster than MINI John Cooper Works WRC pilot Dani Sordo on Sunday’s rain-hit opening stage. As a result he moves ahead of the Spaniard in the overall classification and is now 2.1s behind fourth-placed Mads Ostberg, who lost time when he briefly went off the road on the inside of a hairpin and momentarily struggled for traction.

    “I pushed very hard in this one,” said Belgian Neuville. “They were very difficult conditions, very slippery with some big, big slides but we managed to get through. Fourth place is our aim since Friday and we want to get it.”

    Sordo reported a problem with his car’s handbrake, which, when engaged, applied the front brakes. Evgeny Novikov lost time when he overshot a junction and went into a field, while Martin Prokop said his car was “very nervous” on the straights due to a possible set-up issue.

    Out front, rally leader Sebastien Loeb was 16.0s slower than Neuville after a “couple of big moments” but he maintains a healthy advantage over Ford Fiesta RS WRC pilot Jari-Matti Latvala in second. The gap between them is 27.3s with five stages remaining.

    “There is a lot of water in the ruts so we were aquaplaning everywhere,” said Loeb. “We had a couple of big moments in there. It started well but it was very difficult so we took it easy towards the end.

    click: wrc.com/france ss17



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

    SS18: Neuville climbs higher

    Thierry Neuville has claimed another place on Rallye de France Alsace by moving into fourth overall with this second successive stage win aboard his Citroen Junior World Rally Team DS3 WRC in wet conditions.

    “I tried to push quite hard, it’s very difficult conditions, sometimes dangerous so I try to stay on the road,” said Neuville. “It’s not easy but we manage well.”

    Having dropped to sixth behind Neuville on the previous run, Dani Sordo has overtaken Ford privateer Mads Ostberg for fifth in his MINI John Cooper Works WRC. “I feel really good, it was a really difficult stage, very slippery but it’s okay, I’m happy,” said Sordo, who was 4.5s down on Neuville. “We had a problem with the handbrake blocking the front wheels but now that is repaired.”

    Ostberg said: “It didn’t feel good at all, I was just too careful with a lot of standing water in the road. I have to take risks to fight for fourth but I didn’t take any risks. I don’t think this is good enough.”

    Event leader Sebastien Loeb, chasing his ninth FIA World Rally Championship title, again opted for a cautious approach in his Citroen. “There is a lot of water and a lot of aquaplaning so I didn’t take any risks,” said Loeb. “I don’t have to win here to be world champion.”

    Latvala, in second overall and similarly cautious in the wet conditions, said: “It’s difficult, honestly very difficult in the rain. The car is okay but it’s difficult to find the confidence.”

    Mikko Hirvonen, in third place, conceded that catching Latvala for second was unlikely. “It was really tricky on that stage and I had a bit of a scare in a water splash, which was not so comfortable so I took no risks,” said Hirvonen. “Jari-Matti is a little too far ahead now so I just try to get to the finish.”

    There was drama for Evgeny Novikov when the Russian went off the road and rolled into a field. He took a couple of minutes to regain the road and completed the run with extensive damage to the front of his M-Sport Fiesta. “It was a fast right-hander, which tightened. It was very slippery where the cuts were and I didn’t know this so my speed was too high. We hope to continue.”

    World Touring Car star Yvan Muller was an impressive fourth fastest in his MINI.

    click: wrc.com/france ss18



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

    SS19: Trouble for Sordo



    Dani Sordo’s bid for fourth place on Rallye de France Alsace is over after the powersteering failed on his Prodrive MINI John Cooper Works WRC.

    The Spaniard was in fifth overall, 3.6s behind Thierry Neuville, starting the Haguenau stage but has now slipped down the order after going 49.6s slower than stage winner Neuville through the street test.

    “The powersteering is broken in the stage,” said Sordo. “Before the stage it felt strange, really heavy but in the startline it was completely gone. I try to fix it but I don’t know if I can continue [with no service].”

    Rally leader Sebastien Loeb completed his hometown stage 5.0s down on Neuville as he continues to adopt a cautious approach in his factory Citroen. Mads Ostberg has moved ahead of Sordo into fifth place as a result of the MINI driver’s delay.

    click: wrc.com/france s19




    Sunday midday wrap:



    Sebastien Loeb is getting closer and closer to his ninth FIA World Rally Championship despite rain making driving conditions treacherous on Rallye de France Alsace this morning.

    Loeb, in a Citroen Total World Rally Team DS3 WRC, completed his hometown stage in Haguenau this morning leading by 25.3s ahead of Jari-Matti Latvala in a Ford Fiesta RS WRC.

    “The stages have been tricky with aquaplaning,” said Loeb. “We had some big moments so we don’t take any risks because we don’t have to win to be world champion. This afternoon the roads are going to be very muddy so this rally is not finished.”

    Latvala said before Sunday’s opening stage that he would only be able to overhaul Loeb for top spot if the Frenchman hit trouble. With rain falling on the three tests run so far today, Latvala has been similarly cautious as he bids to maintain his healthy grip on second over Citroen pilot Mikko Hirvonen.

    Thierry Neuville has impressed throughout the morning, climbing from sixth to fourth with a trio of stage wins in his Citroen Junior entry. “It has been a good morning,” said the Belgian. “We try to drive very fast but when there is mud we slow down because we don’t want to make a mistake. It was risky for everyone with the water.”

    More: wrc.com/sunday midday wrap


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    SS20: Tanak tops Power Stage



    Ott Tanak has won the Rallye de France Alsace Power Stage to secure three FIA World Rally Championship bonus points in his Ford Fiesta RS WRC.

    Citroen DS3 WRC driver Thierry Neuville was second quickest to claim two bonus points with Mads Ostberg landing the final bonus point at the wheel of his Fiesta as the leading trio - Sebastien Loeb, Jari-Matti Latvala and Mikko Hirvonen - elected not to push in order to maintain their podium spots.

    It was Tanak’s first Power Stage victory and ends Neuville’s run of stage wins on the Strasbourg-based round today. “Ott pushed quite hard but my time was good,” said Neuville. “I took no risks because I want to stay on the road and finish in fourth place.”

    Mads Ostberg said he tried to push in his efforts to catch fourth-placed Neuville but admitted the muddy conditions held him back. He plans to continue attacking on the closing tests to reverse the 5.7s deficit to Neuville.

    Event leader Loeb, who is closing on WRC title number nine, was 8.1s slower than Tanak. His advantage over second-placed Latvala stands at 19.5s with two stages remaining.

    Dani Sordo did not start the stage following his MINI’s power steering failure on stage 19. With no service available today, his Prodrive team has confirmed the Spaniard’s exit on safety grounds.

    Traditionally run as the closing stage on WRC rounds, event organisers in France nominated the 17.08-kilometre Vignoble de Cleebourg test as the Power Stage instead. The leading runners after stage 19, Haguenau, tackled the stage in reverse order with Martin Prokop going first in his privateer Fiesta. Although the morning rain has subsided, the stage surface remained damp with several muddy sections making driving conditions tricky.

    click: wrc.com/france ss20



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

    SS21: Neuville fastest



    Thierry Neuville has scored his fifth stage win on Rallye de France Alsace, round 11 of the FIA World Rally Championship.

    The Citroen Junior World Rally Team driver’s performance means he starts the final stage with a margin of 8.6s over Mads Ostberg in the battle for fourth overall.

    “It was a very nice stage,” said Neuville, who was 2.9s faster than Ostberg. “I like this one, it’s bit like Ypres in Belgium so I really enjoy and the time is not so bad.”

    Ostberg, who drives for the Adapta World Rally Team, said: “I have tried but I’m losing too much time so that’s it. There is still one stage to go, I’ve done my best but I still need to focus to get to the end.”

    Citroen’s Sebastien Loeb completed the stage 3.6s slower than Neuville but will take a lead of 19.1s over Ford’s Jari-Matti Latvala into the final stage, Haguenau.

    Martin Prokop reported the recurrence of the misfire that hobbled him on Friday.

    Hayden Paddon dropped out of the Super 2000 World Rally Championship lead on the previous stage when he got stuck in a ditch for several minutes. He eventually managed to complete the stage albeit following a considerable delay.

    click: wrc.com/france ss21



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

    SS22: Neuville takes stage win, Loeb wins rally

    Thierry Neuville completed Rallye de France Alsace with his sixth stage victory in his Citroen Junior World Rally Team DS3 WRC to secure fourth place in the final classification.

    But by reaching the finish of the run Sebastien Loeb claimed the overall victory - his 75th in the FIA World Rally Championship - to secure in his ninth WRC drivers’ title with Citroen becoming WRC manufacturers’ champion for an eighth time.

    Mads Ostberg was second fastest, 0.5s down on Neuville to finish fifth overall with Jari-Matti Latvala matching the Norwegian’s time in a similar Ford Fiesta RS WRC to clinch the runner-up spot behind Loeb.

    Petter Solberg was fourth quickest with Ott Tanak completing an impressive showing with the fifth best time.

    click: wrc.com/france ss22




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

    BREAKING NEWS: Loeb wins rally, takes ninth title



    Sebastien Loeb and Daniel Elena have won Rallye de France Alsace to secure their ninth FIA World Rally Championship crown, subject to final ratification.

    In the process they have helped Citroen secure the WRC manufacturers’ title for an eighth time.

    Jari-Matti Latvala finished second for Ford with Mikko Hirvonen adding to Citroen’s joy in third place.

    Crews are now heading back to the podium finish at the Strasbourg Zenith at 16:00hrs local time where thousands of fans will welcome Loeb and Elena.

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

    Sunday SWRC wrap:




    Craig Breen has won the FIA Super 2000 World Rally Championship section of Rallye de France Alsace in dramatic fashion to set up a thrilling final-round title decider in Spain next month.

    Breen, from Ireland, began Sunday’s six stages in third place in class after dropping back on Saturday afternoon with a rear differential glitch. Following a close battle with Yazeed Al-Rajhi for second, he moved in front when Hayden Paddon - who was leading by almost two minutes at the completion of day two - hit trouble on stage 20.

    With Al-Rajhi losing time with an off-road moment on the penultimate test, Breen secured victory - his third of 2012 - by 37.6s to move five points clear of P-G Andersson in the race for the SWRC title.

    “It’s been an up and down rally and we’re extremely lucky with what happened to Hayden,” said Breen. “He was so unlucky because it was so easy to go off where he did. We’re looking good for Spain but it’s going to take a big effort before then.”

    While Paddon slips out of title contention, Breen, Andersson and Al-Rajhi will face off for championship honours when the series concludes in Catalunya from 8-11 November. Andersson finished fourth after restarting on day three following his exit on Saturday with alternator failure on his PROTON Satria Neo S2000.

    For New Zealander Paddon, his retirement after he got stuck in a ditch for several minutes, continues a miserable run of results in the series, which he topped following his second victory of the season on home soil back in June. “The smallest of mistakes stuffs up the whole year, I’m sorry,” he tweeted.

    click: SWRC Sunday Wrap

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

    Next Round 12
    Rally d'Italia Sardegna(Sardinia)18 - 21 Oct 12




    A founding round of the World Rally Championship in 1973, Italy’s WRC qualifier has always been one of the highlights of the season with challenging stages and throngs of enthusiastic fans commonplace.

    Up until 2004 the rally was based in the Italian Riviera town of Sanremo on the shoreline of the Mediterranean Sea. Stages took place on the narrow and tricky mountain roads of Italy’s Liguria province with the route also extending into Tuscany for a series of runs on gravel to increase the spectacle further.

    In 2004 the rally switched to picturesque Sardinia and to a new base in the port town of Olbia in the north of the island. While the route was all new, the event didn’t lose any of its appeal, attracting competitors and spectators in great number.

    The stages in Sardinia are characterised by their challenging and varied nature. Although they are predominantly fast and narrow, the terrain is a mixture of flat open areas and undulating tracks through woodland with water splashes and spectacular jumps thrown in for good measure.

    Official Website: rallyitaliasardegna.com/

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    The Big 2011/2012 Mod Thread


    Ooh,hang on. That is the throb of a turbocharged flat four engine. A sound which,all over the world,heralds the imminent arrival of a moron - JC.

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    The Big 2011/2012 Mod Thread


    Ooh,hang on. That is the throb of a turbocharged flat four engine. A sound which,all over the world,heralds the imminent arrival of a moron - JC.

  16. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by rage-wrx View Post


    Jebus!
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