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Henri Toivonen’s Lancia Delta S4 in Rally Finland Harju Special Stage show run

May 2, 2016

Through his contacts, Harri Toivonen has been able to get Henri’s winning car from the 1985 RAC Rally, the Group B Lancia Delta S4, for a visit to Finland. Harri will be doing a show run with the car on the Harju City Special Stage on both the opening day of Neste Rally Finland, Thursday 28 July, and on Friday 29 July. A more detailed schedule will be announced closer to the event.

Henri Toivonen Tribute at Neste Rally Finland 28 – 31 July 2016

Henri Toivonen

This year marks the 60th anniversary of Henri Toivonen’s birth, and on 2 May 2016 it will be exactly 30 years since his fatal accident in Corsica. Toivonen will forever remain as one of motorsport’s great legends, both in Finland and around the world.

The Finnish round of the FIA World Rally Championship, Neste Rally Finland, will celebrate the memory of Henri Toivonen in collaboration with his brother Harri by launching a project called “Henri Toivonen Tribute at Neste Rally Finland”, which honours the memory of the talented driver in a worthy manner.

Through his contacts, Harri Toivonen has been able to get Henri’s winning car from the 1985 RAC Rally, the Group B Lancia Delta S4, for a visit to Finland. Harri will be doing a show run with the car on the Harju City Special Stage on both the opening day of Neste Rally Finland, Thursday 28 July, and on Friday 29 July. A more detailed schedule will be announced closer to the event.

– With this project we want to honour Henri’s career as one of the brightest stars in the world of rallying and remind people of the fact that he was Jyväskylä’s own son. That’s the reason why the Harju City Special Stage in Jyväskylä is the best possible place for celebrating his memory, says Neste Rally Finland Promoter Jani Backman.

Henri Toivonen’s World Rally Career

The Jyväskylä-based Rally Finland was an important event for Toivonen. The 1000 Lakes Rally of 1975 was Henri’s first rally – and not just his first World Rally Championship rally, but his first rally ever, as the 19-year-old rally driver had by then just managed to get rid of his “fresh-out-of-driving-school 80 km/h restriction”.

Henri Toivonen competed in his hometown rally a total of ten times, every year until his crash in Corsica. His first proper result in Jyväskylä came in 1984, when he finished third with a Lancia 037.

During his almost 10-year career on the world rally scene, Toivonen took part in 40 WRC rallies altogether being victorious in three of them. His first win was the 1980 RAC Rally, driving a Talbot Sunbeam Lotus. Toivonen won the RAC again in 1985 – driving the very same Lancia Delta S4, which is going to be seen on the Harju City Special Stage show run this summer. Toivonen’s biggest dream was to win the Monte-Carlo Rally, and he just managed to achieve that in 1986, with the same Lancia Delta S4.

Four months on from Monte, on 2 May 1986, Henri Toivonen and his co-driver Sergio Cresto died in an accident in the Tour de Corse rally in Corsica. Soon after that fatal accident, the FIA intervened by reassessing the WRC safety regulations, and as a result, the fairly un-restricted Group B rally cars for example were banned from competing, because they had become too dangerous for their drivers.

The old Group B cars are seldom seen on show runs around the world. The last time a Group B rally car was seen in Finland was in the Neste Oil Rally Finland Helsinki Battle event in 2014, when Juha Kankkunen took his Audi Quattro S1 out for a spin.

Finland’s Slot Machine Association (RAY), a not-for-profit Finnish gambling company, is also a partner in the tribute project. Information on other events organised by RAY in connection with the “Henri Toivonen Tribute at Neste Rally Finland” will be published later on, at the beginning of summer.


Hyundai i20R5 tarmac testing heads to Italy

April 28, 2016

We’ve had another busy test with our New Generation i20 R5 as we prepare for the car’s planned homologation this summer.

Following the first successful tarmac test in France in late March, we moved to Italy from 21-23 April, for an intense three-day test session. The New Generation i20 R5 was once again in the capable hands of our test and development driver Kevin Abbring and co-driver Seb Marshall. The duo completed an impressive 900 kilometres on roads just south of Turin – nearly a full WRC round on each day!

“To have completed more than 900 kilometres of testing over three days is a great sign at this point in the New Generation i20 R5’s development,” confirmed our Customer Racing Department Manager, Andrea Adamo. “It shows we have the car running reliably, something our customers will need when competing on events.”

A Complete Workout

Our New Generation i20 R5 was put through its paces in a variety of conditions to assess gearbox and braking development. Initial work centred on fast flowing roads at altitudes similar to those experienced at Rallye Monte-Carlo. The following days looked at the car’s handling through long sequences of hairpins and under heavy braking on downhill tests.

We ran with new tarmac specification gear ratios over the three days. The varied nature of the roads will help us to develop a versatile five-speed sequential gearbox for competitive use on tarmac events around the world.

“In building a car that is designed to be driven on rallies all over the world, it is important that we test on different types of stages,” continued Andrea. “After the rough gravel and quick tarmac sections in France, the shift to Italy gave us two very different courses. It was a great setting to work on the braking system and to continue to develop the gearbox.”

We’ll be staying in Italy into May with tests planned on both gravel and tarmac at a different location.

“We have a full schedule ahead of us now with more tests to come before the homologation date in the summer and the launch of the car,” added Andrea.

We are offering our fans the chance to design a livery for the rally debut of our New Generation i20 R5! Remember our “zebra” test car with the R5 logos? We think our Hyundai fans have the creativity to come up with even better designs.

The winner will not only get to see their design take to the stages, they will also receive a unique co-drive experience in a rally car!

Download the vector outline and competition details here to get started. Entries close Tuesday, 10 May at 12PM CEST.


Tremendous ten to start Drive DMACK Fiesta Trophy

April 20, 2016

Ten crews representing 12 different countries will line-up for the start of the third edition of the Drive DMACK Fiesta Trophy at Rally de Portugal next month. And, with an eclectic mix of experiences and ambitions, it looks set to be another fierce season of competition for the biggest prize in world rallying.

Boasting the most experience is 28-year-old Portuguese driver Bernardo Sousa – he has contested selected WRC 2 rounds over the previous two seasons, finished fourth in SWRC in 2011 and has 38 WRC starts to his name.

Welshman Osian Pryce comes to the series from a strong season in Junior WRC where he was one of the leading and quickest runners. He’s joined by last year’s Vatanen Touch winner Jon Armstrong from Northern Ireland with England’s Gus Greensmith, current rookie champion, making it three drivers from the UK.

The series continues to attract Scandinavian rally driving sons. Finland’s Max Vatanen returns for his third season while Oscar Solberg, son of Henning, is hoping to make it two Norwegian winners in two years.

There are four drivers making their WRC debuts on the opening round. American driver Dillon Van Way has experience of the Fiesta R2 having competed in the FIA NACAM series last year while Poland’s Jakub Brzeziński makes the step up from his national rally series.

Nicolas Ciamin from France is the youngest of the pack aged 18 and popular Kenyan driver Karan Patel will represent the continent of Africa.

Widely considered as the most affordable way to experience the FIA World Rally Championship, the Trophy allows competitors to move into the official WRC support series.

Continuing the successful format, competitors will battle behind the wheel of identical Ford Fiesta R2T rally cars built by M-Sport and powered by Ford’s 1.0 EcoBoost turbo-charged engine. They will use DMACK’s latest gravel and asphalt rally tyres, which are well-proven on both surfaces,

While the huge prize of seven events in the WRC 2 championship remains, it has been split up to provide more opportunities for competitors. The driver accumulating the most points over Portugal and Poland wins two WRC 2 drives. It’s the same situation for

Poland and Finland while asphalt aces will be attracted to the pairing of Germany and Spain.

The flexible nature of the Trophy means that organisers expect the next two rounds in Poland and Finland to specifically appeal to drivers from Scandinavia and eastern Europe.

Competitors will attend M-Sport on 27-28 April for pre-season training and the opportunity to test drive the Fiesta R2T. A launch event for media will then take place at Rally de Portugal on Thursday 19 May.

Crews starting round one Rally de Portugal:

Jon Armstrong (Northern Ireland) / Noel O’Sullivan (Ireland) Rookie
Jakub Brzeziński (Poland) / Bartłomiej Boba (Poland) Rookie
Nicolas Ciamin (France) / Thibault de la Haye (France) Rookie
Gus Greensmith (England) / Alex Gelsomino (Italy)
Karan Patel (Kenya) / Phil Hall (England) Rookie
Osian Pryce (Wales) / Dale Furniss (Wales)
Oscar Solberg (Norway) / TBA Rookie
Bernardo Sousa (Portugal) / Hugo Magalhaes (Portugal)
Dillon Van Way (USA) / Andrew Edwards (Wales) Rookie
Max Vatanen (Finland) / Jacques Julien Renucci (France)

Rookie Award – for drivers with less than two WRC starts at the beginning of the season.

Bernardo Sousa said: “I’ve decided to do the Trophy as it’s a great chance to re-launch my career. My goal will be to fight for the win, I have a good knowledge of the rallies and quite a lot of experience but not much experience of two-wheel-drive so I will have to learn this. However, I’m really happy to start the season with my home rally and support from the fans.”

Gus Greensmith said: “We always had a two year plan for the DMACK Trophy from the beginning and I got so much experience from it last year. It really is the strongest series in terms of competition for young drivers and I wanted to be here again to compete against the quickest people.”

Oscar Solberg said: “I decided to compete to get as much experience as possible of the roads and stages in WRC, with rallies on gravel and Tarmac it’s the best option for me. The prize is great, but there are many other really good drivers so it will be tough. But I’m already looking forward to Rally Finland.”

Malcolm Wilson, M-Sport managing director, said: “Once again we’ve got a diverse group of drivers and experiences but I expect the competition to again be extremely intense. The Fiesta R2T shone on its debut in 2015 and we’re in for another exciting year.”

Dick Cormack, DMACK managing director, said: “The DMACK Trophy is all about providing young and aspiring drivers with the opportunity to experience and compete in WRC. Once again the series has appealed to drivers from across the world and I’m looking forward to seeing who shines above the rest.”


Citroën Racing completes initial testing of its 2017 World Rally Car

April 19, 2016

On schedule, Citroën Racing has completed initial testing of the car that will be entered by the brand in the World Rally Championship from next season. On the gravel roads around the Château de Lastours and then in Fontjoncouse, Kris Meeke has already tested the reliability and performances of this new generation model.

First and foremost, it is worth remembering what a 2017-spec World Rally Car actually is. Because compared with the models that first appeared in 2011 the change is set to be dramatic, for eyes and ears alike! 55mm wider, the bodywork enjoys great aerodynamic freedom, with a front bumper fitted with a splitter, prominent air inlets and outlets, a rear diffuser, and so on. It is no accident that comparisons have been made with the legendary Group B cars of the 1980s!

Under the bonnet, the 1.6-litre direct injection turbo engine is now fitted with a 36mm booster flange, like the Citroën C-Elysée WTCCs. With some 380bhp under the right-hand pedal, the drivers will be able to savour the power on offer, especially as the minimum regulatory weight has been reduced by 25kg and the four-wheel drive now comes with a central differential that improves traction…

You think that sounds exciting? Well, that’s hardly surprising! This new generation of World Rally Cars has been designed by FIA and the manufacturers to given the WRC new impetus. After announcing its return to the category in 2017, Citroën is now determined to play a full part in breathing new life into the WRC, with the aim of winning rallies and adding to its collection of world titles.

Just for the record, the very first outing of the brand’s latest model was held on Saturday, 9 April in Versailles on the small track right next to Citroën Racing’s Satory site. Alexandre Bengué, the team’s test driver, was handed the responsibility of completing the first few miles. The following Monday, Kris Meeke got behind the wheel of the prototype for another shakedown session. As he climbed out of the car at the end of his first run, the Northern Irishman’s wide grin spoke volumes about how much he had enjoyed driving the new car!

Overseen by Laurent Fregosi, Citroën Racing’s new Technical Director, the development team then headed for the south of France for the first proper test session. Engineers Alexis Avril (project manager) and Didier Clément (chief operations’ engineer) didn’t go for the easy option in choosing the roads around Château de Lastours and Fontjoncouse as the base for testing. Regularly used by cross-country rally vehicles, the rocky gravel roads provided a demanding environment in which to test the strength of the chassis, the suspension, the gearbox and the bodywork.

To hide the aerodynamic features as much as possible, Citroën Racing’s latest creation was decorated with a special “camouflage” livery, with a red, white and black pattern created by Citroën’s design office. At 9.12am on Thursday, 14 April, Kris Meeke and Paul Nagle began the test programme defined by the team. Although this moment represented an achievement of sorts for the engineers and technicians in charge of designing and building this first version, it also marked the start of a new adventure!

Without ever losing his broad smile, Kris Meeke switched between testing sessions and technical debriefings. Whilst racking up the miles to flush out the inevitable teething problems, he also tried hard to analyse the reactions of the car to changes in the set-up.

On the fourth day, Kris handed over driving responsibilities to Craig Breen. Tasked with analysing the work done using his own experience and feeling, the talented young Abu Dhabi Total WRT driver turned out to be just as enthusiastic about the potential and performances of this new generation World Rally Car!

Back in Versailles, the team now has to go through and analyse the gigabytes of data acquired and prepare the changes that will be made in time for the next test session. Where and when? Watch this space!


What do these initial test mean for the team?
“It is one of the major stages in a project of this size. The lead-times established for the design phase were very tight. Thanks to its expertise and experience, the team has done a fantastic job to design a car based on the new regulations. Having seen our World Rally Car begin road testing on schedule and complete runs without experiencing any major problems, we can take our time in confirming the upcoming milestones. Once again, what the men and women at Citroën Racing have achieved is quite exceptional.”

What are your impressions, having seen the car in action?
“It is very much in line with what we had imagined when we talked about the new regulations, which were devised to make the cars more spectacular. All the factors we had wanted to improve – the noise, impression of speed and aggressive design – are already in evidence, even though this was only the car’s very first test outing! I think rally fans are going to like the new generation of WRCs.”

It may not be one of the points that has been given the most attention, but these new cars are also safer…
“The FIA has been working on improving safety for a number of years and we are supportive of this approach. As far as we’re concerned, we have always been something of a pioneer in this field, even if it has meant imposing additional restrictions on ourselves. It will be no different with this car, which will be even safer than its predecessor.”

Does having competed in a track racing championship in the last few years represent an advantage or a disadvantage?
“We have never strayed far from the WRC and have been constantly updating our knowledge base. Our WTCC programme will be a bonus, because it will enable us to have a different approach. Before, we had virtually no real experience in aerodynamics. It is now a field in which we have genuine expertise. Similarly, we have an engine that has been running for more than two years with a similar power level and lifespan to those stipulated in the WRC specifications. All of this will be beneficial for the rest of the development phase and when it comes to running the car.”

What are the next key stages for the project?
“We are going to continue testing on gravel and then we’ll begin testing on tarmac. One of the key stages will be the point at which we set the technical definition to start building the cars that will be competing in 2017.”


You are surrounded by a lot of people at this first test session, with several engineers and technicians working on the car…

“Yes, everyone is absolutely 100% committed and it’s fantastic! When I joined the Citroën Racing fold two years ago, the priority was the WTCC and the development of the WRC was fairly limited. Now, you can feel there’s a real energy, with engineers coming back to rally with experience they have gathered on the track. The Citroën Racing machine is up and running at full power and that motivates me to work even harder. Together, we can all do something really special in the future!”

How did your first outing in the car feel?
“It’s always exciting to drive a car for the first time. But this is different, this is the start of a major new programme for Citroën Racing and new era for the WRC. That’s what makes this moment so special. I know that everyone has put in a lot of work to build this new car. So it’s special for them too! Now, we’re moving into a new stage of the process and it’s up to me to step up to the plate.”

This new generation of cars have been frequently compared to the Group B cars. What do you think?
“Obviously, it’s a period of the history of rallying that everyone remembers with affection. The cars were spectacular, with their bold design and big spoilers. We’re returning to that spirit, with more aggressively-designed cars but adding in the technological advances that we now have in 2016. Having driven one or two Group B cars, I can confirm that there really is no comparison. The potential of our new World Rally Car is incredible!”

What did you feel when you started to push?
“With the power and the aerodynamic efficiency, these cars are fascinating. After my first run, one of the mechanics filmed the expression on my face. I didn’t realise it at the time, but the big smile on my face spoke volumes about how much I had enjoyed driving the new car!”

There are not many of you who are able to speak in practical terms about this increase in performance. Is it really a good thing for rallying?
“I’ve always thought that aerodynamics shouldn’t become too important, because rallying shouldn’t become like track racing. I think we have a good balance and these cars will be just as exciting to drive as to watch. But I think the human factor will become more important than it is currently. In my opinion, the 2017 WRCs must remain exclusive to the World Championship, like the F1 cars or the MotoGP bikes.”

These increased performances go hand in hand with improved safety…
“Every year, even if the regulations remain unchanged, we always go a little bit quicker. You can’t stop technology from moving on. This new generation will enable us to make a big step forward in terms of the safety of the cockpit and protection in the event of a side impact. We’re heading in the right direction.”

Let’s finish with the most important aspect: what was the feeling like on gravel?
“As soon as we set off, I felt that I was driving a genuine rallying machine, a well-designed car. I have been involved in the development of several cars in my time; generally speaking, you spend more time waiting around than driving in the first few test sessions. But with this, I was able to rack up the miles and start to explore the set-up options. It was like a dream!”


Meanwhile in France…

April 15, 2016

Citroën Racing has started testing it´s WRC 2017 weapon C3 WRC!

The team published the first photos, when Kris Meeke was testing in France.

Autoexpress / New Citroen C3 WRC begins prep for 2017 glory

Abu Dhabi Total WRT to compete in Portugal and Poland

April 11, 2016

After featuring among the frontrunners in the opening two rounds of the World Rally Championship, the Abu Dhabi Total World Rally Team has confirmed it will be competing at Rally de Portugal (19-22 May) and Rally Poland (1-3 July).

After taking part in the Rallye Monte-Carlo and then Rally Sweden, the Abu Dhabi Total WRT took a break from the WRC during its American leg. Three cars have been entered at Rally de Portugal for Kris Meeke/Paul Nagle, Stéphane Lefebvre/Gabin Moreau and Khalid Al-Qassimi/Chris Patterson.

Last year, when the rally returned to the region of Porto, Kris Meeke finished fourth whilst Stéphane Lefebvre claimed a top-five spot in the WRC2 category.

Six weeks after Portugal, the team’s WRC programme will continue on the gravel stages of Rally Poland. This time, two cars will be entered for Stéphane Lefebvre/Gabin Moreau and Craig Breen/Scott Martin. Winner of the FIA Junior WRC round in 2014, Stéphane Lefebvre also competed here last year. Craig Breen has experience of the Polish round of the WRC too, since he competed here in 2013 as part of the European Rally Championship.


Rallye Monte-Carlo
Kris Meeke/Paul Nagle: retirement
Stéphane Lefebvre/Gabin Moreau: 5th

Rally Sweden
Kris Meeke/Paul Nagle: 23rd (Rally2)
Craig Breen/Scott Martin: 8th
Khalid Al-Qassimi/Chris Patterson: 19th


Neste Rally Finland Route 2016

March 22, 2016

Thursday 28 July 2016

8:00 Shakedown: Ruuhimäki – 4,30 km
18:42 Start: Jyväskylä Paviljonki
19:00 SS 1: Harju 1 – 2,27 km
19:30 Service: Paviljonki – 45 min

Friday 29 July 2016

6:05 Service Paviljonki – 15 min
7:13 SS 2 Mökkiperä 1 – 13,84 km
7:46 SS 3: Halinen – 6,75 km
9:02 SS 4: Jukojärvi 1 – 21,25 km
10:39 SS 5: Surkee 1 – 14,95 km
11:32 SS 6: Horkka 1 – 15,10 km
12:47 Service: Paviljonki – 30 min
14:10 SS 7: Äänekoski‐Valtra – 7,40 km
15:08 SS 8: Mökkiperä 2 – 13,84 km
16:38 SS 9: Jukojärvi 2 – 21,25 km
18:15 SS 10: Surkee 2 – 14,95 km
19:08 SS 11: Horkka 2 – 15,10 km
20:30 SS 12: Harju 2 – 2,27 km
21:00 Service: Paviljonki – 45 min

Saturday 30 July 2016

6:30 Service: Paviljonki – 15 min
8:08 SS 13: Ouninpohja 1 – 33,00 km
9:11 SS 14: Päijälä 1 – 23,50 km
10:34 SS 15: Pihlajakoski 1 – 14,51 km
11:52 SS 16: Saalahti 1 – 4,40 km
12:55 Service: Paviljonki – 30 min
14:48 SS 17: Ouninpohja 2 – 33,00 km
15:51 SS 18: Päijälä 2 – 23,50 km
17:14 SS 19: Pihlajakoski 2 – 14,51 km
18:32 SS 20: Saalahti 2 – 4,40 km
19:32 Service: Paviljonki – 45 min

Sunday 31 July 2016

7:00 Service: Paviljonki – 15 min
8:28 SS 21: Lempää 1 – 6,90 km
9:21 SS 22: Oittila 1 – 10,20 km
Regroup – 30 min
11:15 SS 23: Lempää 2 – 6,90 km
Regroup – 30 min
13:08 SS 24: Oittila 2 (Power Stage) – 10,20 km
14:16 Service: Paviljonki – 10 min
15:00 Podium: Paviljonki

Special Stages total: 333,99 km
Route total: 1370,66 km



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