WRC 13 Rally Finland Aug 1-3 talk/results spoiler**
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    Cool WRC 13 Rally Finland Aug 1-3 talk/results spoiler**

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

    Rnd 8 - WRC Finland Aug 1-3




    Official Website: nesteoilrallyfinland.fi/en/

    Listen Live: wrc.com/fanzone/wrc-live/

    After a summer break of almost six weeks, the race for the FIA World Rally Championship resumes this Thursday on the rollercoaster gravel roads of the sport's spiritual home, Finland.

    Neste Oil Rally Finland is the fastest round of the 13-event WRC season. It’s also one of the most spectacular and hardest to master, with tree-lined straights and blind crests frequently taken sideways at more than 100mph, providing the ultimate test of skill and commitment.

    WRC Finland Preview video: wrc.com/video/rally-finland-preview/


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    Hirvonen wins Finland qualifying

    Mikko Hirvonen was fastest through this evening's Rally Finland qualifying stage to spark early celebrations among his home town fans in the rally base of Jyvaskyla.

    Hirvonen was quickest through the 4.62km Ruuhimaki stage in a Citroen DS3 by 0.248sec from championship leader Sebastien Ogier’s Volkswagen Polo R. A surprise third was Thierry Neuville in a Ford Fiesta RS, 0.437sec adrift of Hirvonen.

    Under cloudy skies and humid conditions, Hirvonen admitted at the stage finish that fastest time left him with a tough decision to make later this evening regarding his start position.

    “It was an OK stage, but it could have been better,” said the 2009 Rally Finland winner. “I have no idea about what road position to choose, so I don’t know if it was good to be fastest here or not.”

    Ogier was unperturbed at being beaten by Hirvonen. “It’s a very fast road and although the stage went OK, I didn’t have the perfect feeling with the suspension. But qualifying in Finland isn’t as important as it is on other rallies,” said the Frenchman.

    There was no disguising the fire in Neuville’s belly. “I really want to fight this weekend,” said the Belgian. “The stage was perfect but I nearly stalled on the start line. I don’t know how much time I lost but then I pushed to the maximum.”

    Evgeny Novikov was fourth in a Fiesta RS, while Jari-Matti Latvala was only fifth in the second Polo R. The Finn had to contend with some padding in the car’s footwell, which had fallen from the area between the roll cage and his seat but he refused to use that as an excuse.

    "I was a bit too cautious, especially in the narrow section, where I braked too early for a couple of corners," said Latvala.

    Andreas Mikkelsen rounded off the top six, which was covered by less than a second. The Norwegian felt his Polo R was losing traction at the rear in right hand corners while Mads Ostberg believed his Fiesta RS collected a puncture just 200 metres after the start. He was seventh.

    The full qualifying stage times were:

    1. Mikko Hirvonen 2min 15.516sec
    2. Sebastien Ogier + 0.248
    3. Thierry Neuville + 0.437
    4. Evgeny Novikov + 0.500
    5. Jari-Matti Latvala + 0.742
    6. Andreas Mikkelsen + 0.974
    7. Mads Ostberg + 1.361
    8. Juho Hanninen + 1.417
    9. Kris Meeke + 1.835
    10. Dani Sordo + 1.906
    11. Jarkko Nikara + 2.673
    12. P-G Andersson + 3.294
    13. Martin Prokop + 4.723
    14. Riku Tahko + 8.002

    click: wrc.com/news/finland-qualifying/

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

    Hesitant Hirvonen holds back in Finland

    Mikko Hirvonen has opted to start tomorrow's opening leg of Rally Finland at the back of the pack of top priority drivers.

    The Finn was fastest in qualifying earlier this evening in his Citroen DS3, earning the right to choose his start position first. And although Hirvonen elected to begin the 48.24km leg last of the top 14 drivers, he admitted to concerns over his decision given the uncertainty of the weather.

    “We don’t know how much it will rain tomorrow,” he said. “If it rains then start position will be important, but if it doesn’t then it won’t be as important. I don’t think it’s so crucial to win qualifying in this rally but it’s still nice to be fastest.”

    Second quickest Sebastien Ogier opted for the next lowest start position, just in front of Hirvonen. The Frenchman smiled: “I was happy that Mikko was faster because I could see what position he chose. It gives me an idea of Citroen’s weather forecast!”

    All the following drivers opted for the next lowest position available.

    Finn Riku Tahko, who was slowest in qualifying, will start first. If it stays dry, he faces the unenviable task of sweeping gravel from the road surface to leave an increasingly cleaner and faster line for those behind.

    The full start order is:

    1. Riku Tahko
    2. Martin Prokop
    3. P-G Andersson
    4. Jarkko Nikara
    5. Dani Sordo
    6. Kris Meeke
    7. Juho Hanninen
    8. Mads Ostberg
    9. Andreas Mikkelsen
    10. Jari-Matti Latvala
    11. Evgeny Novikov
    12. Thierry Neuville
    13. Sebastien Ogier
    14. Mikko Hirvonen

    click: wrc.com/news/start order


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    Fuchs claims Production Car Cup

    Peruvian Nicolas Fuchs is the provisional winner of the FIA WRC 2 Production Car Cup - without turning a wheel at Rally Finland!

    Fuchs has claimed five wins and a second place to build a commanding 73 point lead over Mexico’s Ricardo Trivino.

    The publication of the entry list for Rallye Deutschland confirms no new drivers have registered for the series. And with a driver’s top six scores counting towards the final points, none of his rivals who have competed so far can overhaul Fuchs.

    “This is a goal I always wanted since I started competing and I’ve been through a lot to achieve this,” said 30-year-old Fuchs. “I’m excited and I have no words to describe how I feel. I thank all the people who have supported me.”

    Fuchs, co-driven by Fernando Mussano, finished second in the class in Sweden and followed up with consecutive wins in Mexico, Portugal, Argentina, Greece and Italy.

    He drove a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX with Peru’s FRT Rally team in Mexico and Argentina, and a Lancer Evo X with Spanish team RMC in Europe.

    Fuchs made his rally debut in 2005 and won five national titles in Peru between 2007 and 2011, as well as finishing fifth in the FIA Production Car World Rally Championship (P-WRC) in 2011.

    His 2013 success is subject to confirmation by the FIA.

    click: wrc.com/news/18801

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

    SS1: Ogier seizes early lead

    Championship leader Sebastien Ogier was fastest out of the blocks to win the opening stage of Rally Finland. The Frenchman was quickest by 1.2sec in a Volkswagen Polo R from team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala, with last night’s qualifying stage winner Mikko Hirvonen in third.

    The short spectator stage is far removed from the traditional fast and flowing Finnish stages and Ogier admitted it was tricky.

    “It wasn’t so easy, short and slippery,” he said. “Nobody is taking too many risks. In the next one we will have to be in the rhythm. Everyone knows that if you want to win Rally Finland you have to be in the rhythm from the beginning.”

    Latvala received a wake-up call at the first corner on asphalt. “I was going too fast into the corner and ran a bit wild and wide,” said the Finn.

    Hirvonen was just two-tenths of a second behind his fellow countryman. He admitted to a steady opening in his Citroen DS3 but added: “Now we’re going to go for it. Every stage is important but now we really have to fight back.”

    Mads Ostberg was fourth in a Ford Fiesta RS, with ‘Russian Rocket’ Evgeny Novikov and Thierry Neuville rounding out the top six, which were covered by just 2.2sec.

    Juho Hanninen arrived at the finish with the front of his Fiesta RS full of dirt. “I went somewhere that wasn’t in my plan!” the Finn told WRC Live. “At a downhill section over a crest and jump I went off the road and I was lucky my rally didn’t finish there. Luckily there were no rocks underneath.”

    click: wrc.com/news/finland ss1



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

    SS2: Latvala hits trouble

    Jari-Matti Latvala’s chances of a home win in Finland this weekend took a big knock on SS2 when he broke his car’s suspension.

    The Finn began the stage in second place, just 1.2sec off the lead, but he lost 39 seconds after swiping a roadside rock and damaging the left-hand rear of his Volkwagen Polo R.

    “It happened just before the road widened, on a right hand corner over a crest,“ Latvala explained when he arrived at the stop control. “The car lifted and went wide and we hit a stone on the outside which broke the rear suspension.”

    With another four stages to run before the next team service opportunity in Jyvaskyla, the Finn risks dropping further back unless he can get the car running properly. Asked if he could repair the damage, Latvala said: “I don’t know what we have in the car to fix it. We have to see. We’ll go now and try.”

    Meanwhile Thierry Neuville became the new joint rally leader after a terrific stage win at the wheel of his Ford Fiesta RS. “The road was very slippery but it went okay,” said the Belgian. “Sometimes my pace notes were too slow and at others they were too fast, so I had to adapt my driving a bit, but otherwise it was a nice one.”

    Jyvaskyla resident Mikko Hirvonen shares the top spot with Neuville after surviving a scary moment in his Citroen DS3 to go third fastest. “It was really, really slippery and we hit a rock in one corner - it can happen easily on these new stages, ” he said. “My notes were also not great, but we made it okay, so I’m happy with that.”

    Second quickest on the stage was Ford Fiesta RS pilot Mads Ostberg. The Norwegian holds third overall but wasn’t totally happy with his driving, feeling he had pushed too hard in some sections.

    Early leader Sebastien Ogier could only manage fifth-fastest, the Frenchman 3.1seconds slower than Neuville. “I heard about Jari-Matti before I started, so I took it a bit easy and then I lost my rhythm,” he said.

    click: wrc.com/news/finland ss2



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

    SS3: Neuville and Ogier all square



    The battle for the lead remained as tight as in the previous stage – the difference being that now it is Thierry Neuville (pictured) and Sebastien Ogier who are tied at the top.

    Ogier was fastest by 0.9sec in his Volkswagen Polo R, and that was enough to move him level with the Belgian, who was second quickest in his Fiesta RS.

    The Frenchman said he was not surprised at Neuville’s pace given his speed here last year and added: “We expected a close fight and it’s going to be a good one.”

    Neuville was the epitome of coolness at the finish. “In some places I was maybe a bit careful but we have to check our pace notes. It’s a new system compared to last year. I could have been quicker, but already we’re driving very fast,” he warned.

    A superb third fastest was Kris Meeke on his Citroen DS3 debut, just 1.7sec behind Ogier. “We have to be careful because we have no more spare tyres, so I was driving in the middle of the road all the time,” said the Ulsterman, who punctured in the previous stage.

    Mikko Hirvonen, who was tied with Neuville after two tests, dropped 2.0sec to Ogier but was unperturbed at just 1.1sec off the lead in his DS3. “I’m not relaxed enough. It’s not as flowing as it should be, but the differences are really small, so it’s OK. We are in a good place,” said Hirvonen.

    Fifth was Mads Ostberg’s Fiesta RS, the Norwegian admitting he couldn’t find a rhythm. “It’s a stage I know quite well but I struggled in a few sections. In a few places I lost too much time,” he explained.

    So what of Jari-Matti Latvala? The Finn and co-driver Miikka Anttila worked furiously to repair their Volkswagen Polo R after breaking the rear left suspension in the previous stage when they hit a rock, dropping almost 40sec.

    They started the test 28 minutes late, incurring a 4min 40sec penalty, and dropped three minutes in the stage itself. But Latvala’s commitment to get the car to the end of the day could not be doubted.

    “I will really, really try but it’s going to be tough. The suspension was badly damaged but I’m happy how well our repairs have taken, so I hope to keep going,” he said.

    click: wrc.com/news/finland ss3





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    SS4: Still tied at the top

    After stage four of Rally Finland the competition couldn’t be closer. Mikko Hirvonen and Thierry Neuville are tied in first place – the third stage in succession where two drivers have shared the lead.

    Citroen ace Hirvonen was fastest on the repeat of Torittu, but after the passage of 96 cars the soft road surface had deteriorated badly and deep ruts and loose rocks gave the drivers plenty to think about.

    “I was surprised by how bad that stage was,” said Hirvonen. “For the conditions our car was set far too low, but okay, no worries, we got through it with no problems.”

    Neuville however did not get through so cleanly. “We went very wide on a fast left-hander,” he explained. “We were in deep ruts, then the car oversteered and slid sideways. I lost three to four seconds. You can’t imagine how rough it was.”

    Leading privateer Juho Hanninen was second quickest, 0.6sec slower than Hirvonen, and another Finn to be surprised by how much the road surface had broken up.

    Sebastien Ogier kept out of trouble in the fourth fastest time, to hold third overall. “Really bad conditions, but for us no spins and no dramas,” he said.

    Fifth placed Mads Ostberg was the first of a trio of drivers to be spat off the road by the same deep rut near the stage midpoint. “We went off,” he said after throwing his balaclava into the back of his car. “We were braking and turning in for a corner but the car just went straight on in the ruts. I had to stop and go backwards to get going again.”

    Andreas Mikkelsen told a similar story, but also had trouble getting his Polo R into gear. “I went straight on at a right-hand junction and was a long time in neutral because it wouldn’t go into reverse. We lost a lot of time,” he said.

    Evgeny Novikov was the rut’s last WRC victim. “I had no chance to put the car sideways or anything. In the end we had to reverse back on,” he said.

    click: wrc.com/news/finland ss4



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

    SS5: Hirvonen fumes over time loss

    Mikko Hirvonen was furious after losing 16sec in heavy rain to plunge from equal first to fifth.

    Groups of four cars started the stage at 30 second intervals, with a 4min 30sec gap between the groups.

    Conditions deteriorated in increasingly heavy rain and Hirvonen was last of the top drivers to start, as the opening car in the fourth group. The ruts created during this morning’s first pass filled with water during the gap between the groups, and the Citroen DS3 pilot was only 12th fastest.

    “If we were in the group before it would have been more equal. There is so much water in the ruts that we lost nearly 20 seconds. Really good decision from the organisers. Really, really good decision,” complained an upset Hirvonen.

    After three stages where two drivers were tied at the top of the leaderboard, there is finally a clear leader. Thierry Neuville was only fifth in his Ford Fiesta RS but it was sufficient to earn a 2.0sec advantage.

    “I couldn’t see in the rain and there was a lot of fog on the window. I just tried to stay on the road,” said the Belgian.

    The stage win went to fellow Fiesta RS driver Mads Ostberg. The Norwegian was quickest by 1.3sec to climb to second overall. “We could see the rain coming and it was heavy, especially on the other side of the mountain. On the downhill section the wipers could not cope,” he said.

    Jarkko Nikara benefited from starting last of the opening group to go second fastest in his Mini John Cooper Works, with Kris Meeke third in his Citroen DS3.

    Sebastien Ogier was sixth and complained of a misted windscreen in his Volkswagen Polo R. The Frenchman is now third overall, 2.5sec behind Neuville.

    click: wrc.com/news/finland ss5



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

    SS6:



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    Day 1 wrap: Neuville leads

    Belgium's Thierry Neuville holds the overnight lead of Neste Oil Rally Finland after a thrilling and extremely close battle on this afternoon's opening six stages.

    Neuville, who drives a Ford Fiesta RS for the Qatar World Rally Team, was quickest on two of today’s all-gravel tests, but kept out of trouble in some unusually rough and slippery conditions to end the day 5.2sec clear of championship leader Sebastien Ogier with two days of the rally still to go.

    The Volkswagen duel between Ogier and his team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala meant they were the pace-setters on today’s opening test, run 130 kilometres south of the rally’s base in Jyvaskyla, but that all changed on the second when Latvala wrecked his Polo R’s suspension on a rock and Ogier immediately backed-off his attack.

    Latvala nursed his damaged car through the next two stages before admitting defeat and retiring from the day.

    A fastest time for Neuville on SS2 moved him into a joint rally lead with Citroen ace Mikko Hirvonen, and he remained tied at the top after SS3 (with Ogier) and a badly rutted SS4 (with Hirvonen again) before finally pulling clear on SS5, helped in part by a sharp rain shower that hampered Hirvonen’s progess.

    Rounding off the day with fastest time at the Killeri Super special, Neuville was understandably delighted with his progress. “It’s been a good day, I took no big risks and I think I drove quite cleverly,” he said. “In the rainy stage I slowed down in some places and managed my pace quite well. I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”

    Ogier is keen to restart tomorrow too, when the action shifts to some classic Finland stages, rather than today’s selection of shorter sprints. “I think Friday is the real start of the rally,” said the Frenchman. “We’ll need to be awake and I’m sure we’ll have more fun tomorrow.”

    Ford Fiesta RS driver Mads Ostberg is third overnight, just 3.7 sec behind Ogier, and satisfied to have got through the day in one piece and with just one small mistake when he – like many others - overshot a rutted junction on SS4. “It’s been tough and the last stage especially was so, so slippery, but we’re here. It was important to get through today and be in a good position for tomorrow.”

    Hirvonen ended the day 4.9 seconds further back in fourth, and still furious about losing time on SS5 when his place in the start order coincided with a heavy downpour. Can he make up 13.8 seconds tomorrow? “We will see. I’ll try,” is all the Finn was saying at the end of the stage.

    Newly appointed Hyundai test driver Juho Hanninen is fifth in a Fiesta RS, 3.2sec behind Hirvonen. “Okay, but I cannot be completely happy,” said the Finn. “We’ve seen how fast Thierry is in the same car, so there’s room for improvement for tomorrow.”

    On his first rally in a DS3 World Rally Car, Kris Meeke is an impressive sixth overall - less than four seconds behind factory driver Hirvonen. The Brit was drafted in as a replacement for absent Qatar World Rally Team driver Khalid Al Qassimi and produced one of the stand out performances of the day – with his only problem a puncture on Stage two. “I haven’t done a rally for so long and I’m over the moon. I feel so at home in this DS3, I just want to drive it more and more!” he said.

    Read More: wrc.com/news/day-1-wrap


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    Day 2

    SS7: Ostberg moves in front




    Norway’s Mads Ostberg moved up from third overnight to lead Rally Finland after Friday’s opening stage.

    The Ford Fiesta RS pilot was second-fastest through the day’s damp opening test, to topple Thierry Neuville from the top spot as the action shifted to the classic forest rally region north of host town Jyvaskyla.

    “I felt the pace was not so good but the time is quite okay,” said Ostberg, who holds a 0.8sec lead in the standings over Volkswagen Polo R driver Sebastien Ogier.

    Ogier was fourth quickest on the stage and felt he could have done better. “It’s down to me. I’m not pushing,” he said. “I didn’t expect that much grip and I didn’t push enough.”

    Neuville is now third, just 1.9sec adrift of the lead. “It started quite well. Maybe I took it a bit steady, but I want to check my notes. So okay, not a great stage but I will get better when I settle into a rhythm,” he said.

    Citroen ace Mikko Hirvonen went fastest. After losing a chunk of time on Thursday when his position in the running order meant he was the WRC driver worst affected by a torrential downpour, the Finn took a big step closer to the top three and is now less than five seconds off the lead.

    “That’s good,” acknowledged a determined Hirvonen. “I had a good feeling and even though I hit one rock, everything seems okay.”

    click: wrc.com/news/finland ss7



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

    SS8: Finland bites back



    The lead changed hands yet again as Sebastien Ogier returned to the top of the leaderboard, moving ahead of Mads Ostberg by just two tenths of a second after winning the test.

    The sunshine started to break through the overcast skies as Ogier finished the test, and the Volkswagen Polo R pilot showed a sunny disposition as he smiled his way through the post-stage interviews.

    “In the stage before I had difficulty in pushing and forgetting the championship position. There was too much on my mind and the split times weren’t working. They were OK in here and I realised I was slow and had to do something, so I finished the stage better,” said Ogier, who shared fastest time with team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala.

    Ostberg was only 1.0sec slower in his Ford Fiesta RS, but the Norwegian was frustrated. “It wasn’t a perfect stage,” he told WRC Live. “It’s so, so fast in places. I can’t find the small details to go faster at the moment. I know I have more seconds in me, but it’s just finding a way to get them out.”

    Mikko Hirvonen was fourth, the Citroen DS3 driver 0.8sec ahead of overnight leader Thierry Neuville to reduce the margin between the duo to just 1.8sec.

    Neuville remained relaxed and admitted he, too, had more pace to come. “I drove at a normal rhythm. I could have gone a bit better but it’s a stage everyone knows from the past and I don’t, so I had to be careful,” explained the Belgian.

    The big drama revolved around Evgeny Novikov (pictured). He went off the road after 5km and hit some logs, arriving at the finish with his Fiesta RS’ bonnet obscuring his windscreen. “It was a right after a crest. I don’t know what happened,” was his only explanation. Novikov delayed the following Kris Meeke as he struggled on.

    click: wrc.com/news/finland ss8



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

    SS9: Ostberg flies but Hanninen’s out

    The Rally Finland leaderboard was shaken up once again on SS9, when stage winner Mads Ostberg snatched the lead from Sebastien Ogier, Mikko Hirvonen passed Thierry Neuville for third and Juho Haninnen [pictured] retired from fifth.

    With the top four split by less than five seconds things remained extremely tight, but having pulled a 2.4 second lead over Ogier, Ostberg arrived at the stop control in an almost zen-like state of calm.

    “I’m getting closer and closer to where I want to be,” the Fiesta RS driver reflected. “I’m going at a comfortable pace and enjoying myself. I don’t have any split times, instead I’m going only on how I feel – taking one stage at a time. I’m pleased with how this approach is working out.”

    Citroen DS3 driver Hirvonen was second quickest to lie 5.3sec adrift of Ostberg in the overall standings. “Okay, we weren’t fastest, so there’s room for improvement, but I tried to push more in there and I’m quite happy,” he said.

    Volkswagen’s Ogier meanwhile accepted that he could have done better. “I’m not taking too many risks, but okay, this one wasn’t so good,” he said.

    Overnight leader Neuville dropped to fourth as he continued to fine-tune his pace-notes. “My driving could have been better, but on the first pass I prefer to look at he conditions. For this afternoon it will be better. I know I can push much harder.” he said.

    The stage brought a premature end to Ford privateer Juho Hanninen’s day. The Finn had been an impressive fifth, but retired shortly after the stop control with right-hand rear suspension damage.

    click: wrc.com/news/finland ss9




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    SS10:





    Four stages and three changes of lead - that's the story of a thrilling morning in the second leg of Rally Finland as Mads Ostberg arrived at the Jyvaskyla service park with a slender advantage of eight-tenths of a second over Sebastien Ogier.

    Mikko Hirvonen recovered from his time loss in the rain last night to close to 7.5sec of Ostberg, while overnight leader Thierry Neuville lies 11.4sec off the lead as the quartet pulled clear.

    Ostberg, driving a Ford Fiesta RS, moved ahead of a cautious Neuville in the opening 22.50km Jukojarvi. But in the following 13.92km Palsankyla, Ogier was quickest in his Volkswagen Polo R to move 0.2sec clear.

    It was all-change again in Mokkipera as Ostberg was fastest to regain the advantage by 2.4sec. Although Ogier hit back by winning the 25.70km Lankamaa, Ostberg settled down to lunch with the lead.

    “It’s so, so fast in places,” said the Norwegian. “In the last stage I was a bit careful in the high-speed sections. When I came into the really quick corners I tended to lift off and I lost time in those areas.”

    Championship leader Ogier admitted his title aspirations were in his thoughts. “I have the championship in my mind,” he said. “I’ll try to stay in the battle for victory and if I can stay there and push a bit more towards the end, it would be perfect.”

    Hirvonen remains in the thick of the fight in his Citroen DS3, but the Finn was too cautious through Lankamaa, which was run in the opposite direction to the usual route for the first time.

    “I should have been better in there,” he said. “It was difficult to do the stage in the opposite direction. I know it so well the other way round and my notes were too fast this way.”

    Overnight rain ensured the smooth gravel roads north of Jyvaskyla were damp, but as the sun broke through and the stages dried, Neuville felt happier. “I got some confidence back when it was drier. I took no risks and checked my notes, but I think this afternoon will be very interesting,” he grinned.

    Kris Meeke is fifth following the demise of Juho Hanninen with broken right rear suspension on his Ford Fiesta RS. However, the Northern Ireland driver was angry after dropping 20sec in Palsankyla when he was held up by Evgeny Novikov, who crashed his Fiesta RS into a log pile after a crest.

    WRC 2

    Ford Fiesta R5 driver Ketomaa remains in control of WRC 2, the Finn returning to service with a 1m04.5s lead over Citroen DS3 RRC pilot Robert Kubica. Overnight third Elfyn Evans damaged his Fiesta’s suspension on today’s opening stage and retired later with an engine problem. Hayden Paddon is third, 15.8sec behind Kubica.

    WRC 3

    Ireland’s Keith Cronin became the new leader of WRC 3 after Alastair Fisher rolled his Citroen DS3 R3T in SS7. Cronin has a comfortable 1min 18sec advantage over WRC 3 newcomer Jussi Vainionpaa, with Simone Campedelli 2.4sec further back in third.

    click: wrc.com/news/mads-leads-by-a-whisker/


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    SS11: Ogier makes his move



    Sebastien Ogier re-took the lead in Finland on SS11 thanks to a stage winning time through the repeated Jukojarvi that was 4.6sec quicker than anybody else.

    Conditions were rougher and more rutted than the earlier pass as SS7, but Ogier’s time of 10m18.0s was 13 seconds quicker than he had managed before.

    Unusually the Frenchman got out of the car at the finish control and gave it a thorough inspection before talking to the waiting media.

    “Everything is fine. I’m just checking the tyre wear,” he said. “This one was good but the afternoon is long and we have to be careful not to get a puncture.”

    Asked if he had turned up his pace after the midday service, Ogier said: “I’m pushing, yes, but not like crazy.”

    Former rally leader Ostberg is now 4.6sec behind, and felt his rival had made better use of the deep ruts to help steer him around the corners. “I tried but I find it difficult to use the ruts,” he said, “The lines are strange and I was not able to use them 100 percent. He managed. I didn’t”

    Thierry Neuville was third quickest, 5.1 seconds slower than Ogier, and felt he could have pushed harder in some places.

    Fourth fastest Mikko Hirvonen, like many drivers, was surprised by how much the gravel road surface had deteriorated since the morning. “It’s almost unbelievable how bad it was in places. Really deep ruts, not so nice to drive, but okay, the same for everybody,” he said.

    Fellow Citroen DS3 driver Kris Meeke was considering suspension changes before the next stage because the ruts were so deep. “Perhaps we’re a bit low, we’re dragging here and there, taking speed off, we may raise it for the next few stages.”

    click: wrc.com/news/finland ss11



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

    Mikko Hirvonen was lucky to escape a wild fifth gear moment which threatened to bring his Rally Finland to an early end.

    The third-placed Finn was second quickest at the first split in his Citroen DS3, but hit a bank and was fortunate not to roll. He damaged two tyres and dropped more than 20 seconds to slip behind Thierry Neuville into fourth, 35.6sec behind leader Sebastien Ogier.

    “When you see the onboard footage you will see how lucky I was,” he said. “I went wide at a fifth gear corner and hit a bank. The impact pulled the front of the car into the bank as well and it started to roll. Somehow it didn’t go over, but I did a 360 degree spin in the road. It was incredible that I got away with that.”

    Ogier posted a third consecutive stage victory in his Volkswagen Polo R win to widen his lead to 9.9sec over the Ford Fiesta RS of Mads Ostberg.

    “I was a bit safe, but not a bad stage,” was all the Frenchman had to say at the finish.

    Ostberg was uncomfortable in the deep ruts which were a legacy of this morning’s first pass through the stage, and was fourth, 6.1sec behind Ogier. The Norwegian was planning to reassess his driving before the next Mokkipera test.

    “I need to adapt my driving style in the ruts because it’s difficult to brake in the line and turn in exactly where I want to turn. I normally have a little flick of the rear at the entry but I can’t do that. I don’t know what to do. I need to talk with Jonas (co-driver Andersson) to see how we can manage it,” explained Ostberg.

    Neuville was second in his Fiesta RS, 1.7sec behind Ogier, and is another who has taken a dislike to the ruts. “I couldn’t do better, I was flat out everywhere. Sometimes I hit the ruts so hard that I couldn’t hold the steering wheel,” he said.

    click: wrc.com/news/finland ss12



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

    SS13: Ogier extends his lead

    A fourth consecutive stage win for Sebastien Ogier enabled the Volkswagen Polo R driver to extend his rally lead over Mads Ostberg to 12.4 seconds.

    Ogier judged his pace perfectly in the rutted conditions, to go quickest by 2.3 seconds. “Yeah, it’s okay but we backed off a little bit where we needed to,” he said. “You have to concentrate in the ruts, it’s very easy to get a puncture.”

    Kris Meeke was Ogier’s closest rival on the Mokkipera repeat, the Brit taking his best stage result of the rally so far. “We raised the car a lot and it’s a lot better now. We still have to be so careful in the ruts but I have a big smile on my face,” he said.

    Ostberg was third fastest, two-tenths slower than Meeke, to remain well cushioned in second.

    Behind him, Neuville was in trouble – the Belgian losing almost 15 seconds with a left-hand front puncture. “It happened near the beginning, I first felt it when we landed after a jump. But this is rally and sometimes it happens. What can we do?”

    Mikko Hirvonen also had problems – the Finn completing five seconds slower than Meeke. “I think we damaged the right-hand rear damper or something in the suspension when we spun earlier,” he said. “The car is difficult to drive in left-hand corners now - it slides a lot.”

    click: wrc.com/news/finland ss13



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

    SS14: Ostberg: ‘It’s a lottery’

    Mads Ostberg’s faltering challenge for victory in Rally Finland took its most severe blow yet when a broken wheel cost second place and handed Sebastien Ogier a 36.3sec lead over a resurgent Thierry Neuville.

    Ostberg was matching Ogier’s pace through the final forest stage of the day until his Ford Fiesta RS hit a rock in the heavily rutted roads and the impact shattered the front left wheel.

    He limped to the finish dropping 25sec and is now almost 40sec behind the Frenchman, after being ahead of the championship leader just four stages ago.

    “It’s unbelievable,” said the furious Norwegian. “It’s a lottery now, there are rocks everywhere,” he added, before quickly leaving the stage finish.

    Forecasts that the second pass through Lankamaa would cause havoc proved true. Andreas Mikkelsen retired his Volkswagen Polo R after the finish, the car having shed its left rear wheel and suspension.

    The bolts holding the upright sheared and the Norwegian was perplexed. “I hit nothing. Suddenly there was a small vibration in the stage and 2km from the end the wheel flew off. We drove on as the finish was so close,” he said.

    Ogier reeled off his fifth straight win, 4.1sec faster than Neuville’s Fiesta RS. “It wasn’t so easy. We managed to be fast and avoid the problems so I’m happy with the afternoon. It’s a good gap, but it’s a long day tomorrow and it’s not over,” he said.

    click: wrc.com/news/finland ss14



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    SS15:



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

    Ogier takes 38sec lead into Finland finale



    Volkswagen's Sebastien Ogier will start Saturday's final leg of Neste Oil Rally Finland with a 38 second lead after a perfectly-managed performance on today's nine stages.

    The Frenchman began Friday’s action second in his Polo R, trailing Ford Fiesta RS driver Thierry Neuville by 5.2sec, and nestled near the top of a pack of seven drivers separated by less than 23 seconds.

    Things remained tight all morning, with Ogier trading stage wins with Citroen DS3 driver Mikko Hirvonen and Mads Ostberg in a Fiesta RS, so that just 11.4 seconds covered the top four at the midpoint service.

    But it was all change in the afternoon, when Ogier upped his pace on the rutted surface of the repeated stages, winning all of them while one-by-one his rivals hit trouble.

    “It’s been a perfect afternoon,” Ogier acknowledged. “I’m very pleased with the way that the car worked, how we were able to push, and also the way that I managed my pace. But it’s not over yet, there’s still a long day to come tomorrow.”

    Overnight leader Neuville lost the position on today’s opener, but remained close until the 13km Mokkipera (SS13) when he slipped more than 30 seconds behind after driving most of the stage with a punctured left front tyre.

    Another tyre related-problem followed on SS14. “Without the puncture it was an okay day,” said the Belgian. “It was a shame, but okay that’s rallying. I don’t have that many but this time it’s happened.”

    Ostberg is third, less than one second behind Neuville. The Norwegian was right with Ogier until SS15 - the day’s final forest stage - when he hit a rock, shattered his Fiesta’s front left wheel and dropped 45 seconds.

    “We’re still here, and I’m happy about that,” he said. “It was a big shame but you know, punctures happen and it’s just unfortunate. There’s nothing we can do. Okay, we know we have the speed to beat Thierry tomorrow, so that’s what we’ll do.” .............


    WRC 2

    Jari Ketomaa continued his domination of the WRC 2 category by winning eight of today’s nine stages to increase his lead to 70.2sec in the new Ford Fiesta R5. Poland’s Robert Kubica lies second in a Citroen DS3 RRC with New Zealander Hayden Paddon completing the podium 1min 55sec further adrift in a Skoda Fabia S2000.

    WRC 3

    Keith Cronin tops WRC 3 with a comfortable 1min 34.2sec lead over series leader Sebastien Chardonnet. Finland’s Jussi Vainionpaa lies third, 26.1sec behind, with all three drivers in Citroen DS3 R3 cars. Leg 1 leader Alastair Fisher rolled into retirement in SS8.


    click: wrc.com/news/ogier-takes-38sec-lead


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    Day 3

    SS16: Ostberg up to second




    Norway’s Mads Ostberg went quickest on Saturday's opening stage, to overcome Thierry Neuville's slender overnight advantage and move up to second.

    Back in the position he lost yesterday after a puncture, Ostberg is more than 30 seconds off the lead in his Ford Fiests RS but satisfied with his start to the final day. “It was a good stage and I tried to push as hard as I can. So far it’s going quite well,” he said.

    Also in a Fiesta RS, Neuville’s chances of keeping the position had taken a knock on the first junction. “I went straight on at the first right hander and lost about five seconds. On these roads it’s just not possible to get that amount of time back,” said the Belgian, who now trails Ostberg by 3.1sec.

    Volkswagen’s rally leader Sebastien Ogier was only fifth fastest, but relaxed about giving away a few seconds of his advantage to ensure a clean run. “I’m not in a position to take risks, so I took a bit of time to start my day,” he said. “I prefer to start like this and then increase the pace as I find my rhythm.”

    Behind the lead trio, an intriguing battle for fourth was brewing between Citroen ace Mikko Hirvonen and the manufacturer’s stand-in driver Kris Meeke in fifth.

    The gap between the pair had narrowed to just 8.1sec overnight after Rally Stewards credited Meeke with 23 seconds because he had been held up by the damaged Fiesta RS of Evgeny Novikov on Stage eight.

    Novikov received a reprimand from the Stewards for not pulling over promptly to allow Meeke by.

    click: wrc.com/news/finland ss16



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

    SS17: Neuville vows to fight Ostberg

    The duel for second place between Qatar M-Sport team-mates Mads Ostberg and Thierry Neuville intensified as the Belgian upped his pace in a bid to overhaul his Norwegian rival.

    Having lost second to Ostberg in the opening Surkee test after overshooting a junction in his Ford Fiesta RS, Neuville retaliated with fastest time here and vowed to continue fighting his colleague.

    Neuville (left above) was quickest by 0.9sec from Ostberg, to narrow the gap to 2.2sec, despite a close escape over a crest early in the stage.

    “I made a small mistake. At a straight line over a jump the car went sideways. I don’t know why it happened, but I had to come off the throttle and we lost time. It’s close with Mads and I think we should continue the fight,” he said.

    Ostberg was relaxed but admitted conditions were tricky. “It’s drying but in places it’s quite wet and slippery so it’s hard to find the perfect rhythm,” he explained.

    Leader Sebastien Ogier was third in his Volkswagen Polo R, 2.1sec behind Neuville and his advantage is now 32.3sec. “We wake up slowly!” joked the Frenchman.

    click: wrc.com/news/finland ss17



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

    SS18: Ogier dominant on Ouninpohja



    Rally leader Sebastien Ogier threw caution to the wind on the first pass through Ouninpohja, taking victory on the legendary stage by 2.5 seconds and extending his rally lead to almost 40 seconds.

    The Frenchman put his morning’s cautious approach on hold for 33 kilometres to fully appreciate the thrill of driving the legendary test at full chat.

    “It’s long been a dream of mine to do this stage in a World Rally Car and it was amazing,” he said at the stop control. “Just perfect. And I think we can go faster this afternoon…”

    Mikko Hirvonen was second quickest in his Citroen DS3. “It was okay, it went pretty well, although the car was moving around a little too much,” he said. “It looks like the boys behind have done their homework though - they’re fast too.”

    Sure enough, Thierry Neuville was just one-tenth slower than Hirvonen and moved back into second. The Belgian’s Fiesta arrived at the stop control with some light rear damage. “We went slightly wide in one place and lightly clipped a barrier but otherwise it was a good stage,“ he explained. “I took it carefully here and there so I know there are places where I can go faster this afternoon.”

    Now 0.3sec behind Neuville in third, Mads Ostberg was left ruing an overly cautious approach. “I don’t think I pushed enough,” he said. “Okay, you lose time on this stage if you push too much, but maybe I held back more than I should have. It wasn’t a bad stage but I should have been faster. I’ll try to do a better job this afternoon.”

    Kris Meeke set the fifth fastest time and arrived at the finish control in a state of euphoria. “Give me a Citroen,” he grinned. “That was the best 15 minutes 42 seconds of my life. It was my first time here in seven years and my first time in a World Rally Car. Superb. Like sitting in the front seat of a roller coaster.”

    click: wrc.com/news/finland ss18




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    SS19:



    ...............

    No rush for Ogier

    While the fight for second raged behind him, leader Sebastien Ogier consolidated his advantage through this morning's opening loop of the final leg of Rally Finland.

    With a handsome 38.1sec lead after the first two legs, the Frenchman didn’t feel the need to break out of his comfort zone for much of the morning.

    He eased his way through three of the four stages in his Volkswagen Polo R – but the exception was the awesome Ouninpohja test, in which he blasted to fastest time.

    “My only stage today is Ouninpohja,” said Ogier, before he headed back to mid-leg service in Jyvaskyla with a 31.5sec lead. “The others I just drove through. It’s long been a dream of mine to do Ouninpohja in a World Rally Car and it was amazing.”

    Asked whether he would push for extra points in the Power Stage in the Painaa test this afternoon, he grinned: “I’m not sure. I don’t think we need any more points!”

    There was little chance for Mads Ostberg and Thierry Neuville to relax as they fought for every fraction of a second in their Ford Fiesta RS cars in the duel behind.

    Neuville started with a 0.9sec advantage over Qatar M-Sport team-mate Ostberg, but the Norwegian moved ahead when he won the opening Surkee and Neuville overshot a junction.

    The Belgian won the following Leustu stage and reclaimed second in Ouninpohja as Ostberg regretted a cautious approach. But Ostberg won the final Painaa test to move back ahead by 2.8sec.

    “It’s difficult to know from stage to stage how to push but on the final test we managed quite well,” said Ostberg.

    Neuville was unfazed, saying: “I know there are places where we can go faster this afternoon.”

    It’s hard to imagine quite what team director Malcolm Wilson must be thinking as his two drivers blast through the Finnish forests at ten-tenths in pursuit of each other!

    .....
    WRC2

    Ford Fiesta R5 driver Jari Ketomaa remains way out front in WRC 2, the Finn more than 90 seconds ahead of the Citroen DS3 RRC of Robert Kubica. New Zealander Hayden Paddon remains third, 1m32s further back in a Skoda S2000.

    WRC 3

    Saturday morning’s stages brought no changes to the top positions in WRC 3. Keith Cronin leads, despite a scare on the opening test when an electrical connection came loose on his Citroen’s engine. Sebastien Chardonnet is 1m10.2s adrift in second, with Jussi Vainionpaa 41 seconds further back in third.

    click: wrc.com/news/no-rush


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    SS20: Battle rages between Fiesta duo



    With rally leader Sebastien Ogier seemingly untouchable at the head of the field – and taking another stage win here - all eyes were on the fight for second between Ford Fiesta RS drivers Mads Ostberg and Thierry Neuville.

    The pair left the preceding service with Ostberg [pictured] ahead by just 2.8sec, and under instruction from their Team Principal Malcolm Wilson to keep on fighting.

    “In normal circumstances you would probably say, okay, lets hold station, but with Mikko only 20 seconds back and 70 kilometres still to go, they can’t afford to ease off,” said Wilson.

    “Although the car liveries look the same, Mads and Thierry drive for different teams, so the way I see it, they’re going to have to drive the rest of this rally flat-out. I want to see them have a good battle right to the end.”

    Out on stage the pair were as close as ever, with Neuville fractionally faster to reduce the gap between them to two seconds dead.

    At the finish, Neuville said he could have been faster had it not been for a concern about his tyres. “Towards the end it felt like I had a puncture at the rear,” he said. “I had hit a stone and wasn’t sure, so I took it a bit carefully.”

    Ostberg had a clean run, despite a stage surface that was more rutted than the morning pass. “Difficult conditions but we did quite okay I think. Not perfect but not bad. I’m enjoying the fight,” he said.

    click: wrc.com/news/finland ss20



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

    SS21: The duel goes on...



    The awesome roller-coaster Ouninpohja stage, regarded as the sport’s ultimate test of skill and bravery, lies just around the corner and the dueling Thierry Neuville and Mads Ostberg will go into it separated by one-tenth of a second!

    Neuville was fastest in Leustu by 1.9sec from Ostberg and the thousands of spectators packed into the upcoming 33.01km test will be in for a treat as the Ford Fiesta RS duo fight it out over the wide and dauntingly fast roads.

    Both emerged from Leustu with their concerns.

    Ostberg kicked off: “We had a half-spin at a junction. I don’t know what happened but there was no power in the throttle. I almost spun and tried to dip the clutch many times before the power came back again,” he said.

    Neuville countered: “It’s very rough so we have to be careful in places. I could have been faster but I didn’t want to take risks. We must do well in Ouninpohja but I have a bit more tyre wear due to a different differential, so I’m struggling a bit.”

    Leader Sebastien Ogier was third in his Volkswagen Polo R, the Frenchman gearing himself up for another thrill-a-second ride through Ouninpohja. “I will try to drive to a good rhythm there because that’s the best way to have fun. No problems in here, but there are some sections that are quite rough,” he said.

    That’s a view Mikko Hirvonen would certainly subscribe to. The Finn was ninth fastest but counted himself lucky not to be lying upside down in his Citroen DS3.

    “We nearly rolled,” he said. “It’s so bumpy and rutted. I was following the line in a rut and hit a big hole. The car just jumped out and onto two wheels…..”

    click: wrc.com/news/finland ss21



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

    SS22: Record for Ogier, Ostberg spins, Meeke rolls




    Sebastien Ogier gave the Finns an Ouninpohja masterclass on stage 22, the Frenchman recording a fastest time through the 33km classic that smashed the stage record - set by Mikko Hirvonen - by 8.5 seconds.

    Ogier was 4.6sec faster than his closest rival, Thierry Neuville, and will take a 36 second lead into the final, decisive Painaa stage.

    “It was a really nice stage, a lot of fun,” Ogier said as he walked around his Polo R, inspecting its tyres. “The tyres were completely gone though. At the end the rear of the car was sliding around – so maybe not the best tyre choice.”

    Behind him, the fraught battle for second between Mads Ostberg and Thierry Neuville looked to have been settled in Neuville’s favour after Ostberg dropped more than 20 seconds when he drove off the road to avoid a rock.

    “We were about 25km in when I saw it in the middle of the road,” explained Ostberg. “It was massive, so I steered off the road to avoid it, then spun. It was that or hit the rock and risk wrecking the car. It was shame to settle it like this.”

    Neuville also beat Hirvonen’s Ouninpohja record and is now second, with a 19.7sec cushion to Ostberg behind. “I was very fast everywhere, but when the split came in from Mads and I saw a car in the ditch I really backed off,” he said. “I really wanted to beat the record time so I’m very happy about that. My car feels incredibly good. I just love it.”

    The car in the ditch was the Citroen DS3 of Kris Meeke. The Brit reached the final section of the stage, and was on course for a dream result this weekend, when he went off in a narrow section and rolled four times. Both Meeke and his co-driver Chris Patterson are uninjured.

    Hirvonen was third fastest to hold fourth overall. “It was so slippery I thought we had tyre wear, but I think the road was still damp in places,” he said. “Especially at the end I was not so confident. We also had to slow down a little bit where Kris went off.”

    click: wrc.com/news/finland ss22



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    Ogier wins in Finland

    Sebastien Ogier has won Neste Oil Rally Finland to extend his lead in the FIA World Rally Championship.

    The Frenchman safely negotiated the final stage with a 36.6sec lead in his Volkswagen Polo R. It was his fifth WRC victory this season.

    Thierry Neuville finished second in a Ford Fiesta RS, matching the career best result he took on the previous round in Sardinia.

    The top three was completed by Mads Ostberg, also in a Fiesta RS, who finished 21.0sec behind Neuville.

    Neuville rounded off an impressive weekend by going fastest on the rally closing Power Stage and bagging the maximum three bonus points.

    Two points for second fastest went to Ogier with his team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala, who retired on the opening day, taking the final point for third.




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    Ketomaa wins WRC2



    Jari-Ketomaa held his nerve at the head of the WRC 2 competition at Rally Finland to win by a handsome margin of 1m28.9s and secure the maiden WRC 2 victory for the new Ford Fiesta R5.

    Poland’s Robert Kubica was second in a Citroen DS3 RRC, with New Zealander Hayden Paddon completing the podium 1m25.0s further back in a Skoda Fabia S2000.

    “It feels perfect, I have been trying to do this so many times I almost can’t believe it,” said a delighted Ketomaa, who collected a maximum 25 championship points. “Everything has gone perfectly for us and it’s so nice to do it here at home in front of my friends and sponsors!”

    Starting today’s competition well cushioned in second, Formula 1 ace Kubica impressed on the fastest stages of the season to bag 18 points and move third in the WRC 2 standings.

    “It has been a good weekend, a difficult rally, but I think we have done a very good job,” said the Pole. “It’s not easy to come here for the first time and the competition was pretty tough. We went up against a lot of local talented drivers we are happy to be leaving Finland with more knowledge and experience.”

    Padden too felt encouraged by what he had achieved on his WRC 2 season debut. “We wanted to try and match out times against Esapekka Lappi and I think we’ve done ourselves justice on his home turf,” he said.

    “We’re not back at 100 per cent yet, that’ll take more time because I’ve been away for a long time, but at long last we have a result on the board. Hopefully this is the start of more to come.”

    click: wrc.com/news/18885

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

    Cronin takes top spot in WRC 3



    Citroen DS3 R3 drivers Keith Cronin, Sebastien Chardonnet and Jussi Vainionpaa made up the podium in the WRC3 category of Neste Oil Rally Finland.

    Cronin, from Ireland, took the lead on day two after his chief rival Alastair Fisher crashed out. He held the position until the end of the rally, taking eight stages wins along the way.

    Cronin is now second in the WRC 3 driver standings, 20 points behind championship leader Chardonnet.

    “This is the first time we have competed at Rally Finland but we really had a good feeling on these roads which are still very special,” said a delighted Cronin, who now heads Citroen’s own Top Driver Series.

    “The DS3 R3 was perfect and fast and we can’t wait for Germany to begin the series of tarmac rallies. We’re going to give it our best shot to hold onto our position as leader of Citroen’s series.”

    Chardonnet had a tough opening day but fought back on Friday, overhauling local driver Vainionpää to establish a clear lead in second spot. He held the position throughout Saturday’s stages to finish 1m14.5s adrift of Cronin.

    With his championship lead intact, the Côte d’Azur-based driver admitted he was pleased with his weekend’s work.

    “It’s true that the start of the race was complicated for us, but we then found a good feeling in the car and the DS3 R3 was really great,” he said.

    click: wrc.com/news/18889

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

    WRC on YT: youtube.com/wrc


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

    Next Rnd 9 - WRC Germany - Aug 22-25




    ADAC Rallye Deutschland is receiving a makeover for the 2013 season. For the first time since its introduction to the WRC calendar in 2002, this year's German event will begin in Cologne. The event will begin with a presentation of the championship's cars and drivers at Roncalliplatz, with Cologne cathedral providing a stunning backdrop.

    On leaving the Domplatte square in Cologne, the rally's first special stage will commence near Blankenheim. Following this, the second special stage near Sauteral will be held on the evening of 22nd August, posing a unique night time challenge.

    From there, ADAC Rallye Deutschland heads towards its base city of Trier in Germany's wine-making Mosel district. The championship's three days in Germany are an asphalt rally like no other with three different types of sealed surfaces used.

    Official Website: adac-rallye-deutschland.de/

    Listen Live: wrc.com/fanzone/wrc-live/



    ...
    Last edited by Weasel 555; 08-26-2013 at 04:55 AM.
    ScoobyDMC #000,HawkEyeAlliance#000,Blobeye Syndicate #000, SQC-NY #009, "Dragon Slayer"
    "All We'll Drive"

    I <3 boobies: rallyarmor/keepabreast/mud flaps limited edition

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