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Citroën Racing set to debut the C3 R5!

March 26, 2018

INTERVIEW WITH FRANÇOIS WALES

Development Director, Customer Racing Vehicles

“WE STARTED FROM SCRATCH”

What were the specifications for the C3 R5?

Well, clearly, the idea was to start from scratch. Obviously, the aim was for it to be reliable and fast, especially given that the standard in the R5 class – which was already high a year and a half ago when we began development work – just keeps on going up as new competitors join the category.

What are the challenges posed by the R5 category?

There are many of them. First of all, there is very little room for manoeuvre (five upgrade tokens in the first 24 months, five others after) once the car has been homologated. It therefore has to be well designed from the outset. Similarly, in terms of the chassis and suspension systems, the number of potential interfaces is very limited. And yet we set ourselves the ambitious target of developing both the tarmac and gravel versions, opting for different designs. On tarmac, the front strut is angled towards the rear, whilst it leans forwards on gravel. We are the only manufacturer to have proceeded like this, and whilst it is fairly straightforward to do this in the WRC, it’s a lot less easy in the R5 class! Lastly, as regards the engine, the restrictor/pop-off valve combination makes these machines particularly complicated: everyone has more or less the required power and torque on the engine test bench, but the differences then come at the rallies, when factors like altitude and temperature vary, as well as in all the transition phases. This is why we invested in a much more powerful ECU, involving considerably more fine-tuning, but which has delivered very good results.

How did development work go?

Although the overall timing left us very little room for error, everything went well. We started work on preliminary project drawings at the end of 2016, but we didn’t really begin proper design work, based on the C3, until January 2017, the first road tests being held in September 2017. We haven’t had any issues with any of the major components since then. Engine endurance tests were completed without incident and we now have what is beginning to feel like a reasonable number of testing miles under our belt. We have tested on pretty much all types of tarmac and have defined a good basic set-up. The same goes for gravel, where we have held sessions at a wide variety of test bases. We are now going to use this year to fine-tune our set-up at specific events such as Monte-Carlo, Sweden, Finland, Wales GB and Germany.

A lot of drivers were involved in testing: Stéphane Lefebvre and Yoann Bonato, as well as the likes of Craig Breen, Kris Meeke, Yohan Rossel, Paolo Andreucci and Simone Tempestini. What was the aim?

We believe that a fast, powerful rally car must also be versatile, especially when it comes to a customer racing product. This is why we decided to use a small panel of drivers – so we could not only get a comprehensive view but also go quicker in understanding any areas that needed to be corrected on the car, by comparing several opinions.

PIERRE BUDAR

Citroën Racing Team Principal

“The title is the aim for Stéphane Lefebvre!”

“The target we have set Stéphane Lefebvre in entering him in the WRC2 in the C3 R5 is to win the championship, in order to show the potential of the car, both in terms of performance and reliability on a wide variety of surfaces and in what is a highly competitive series. There is a considerable sales & marketing side to it too. Stéphane will be in the spotlight, showcasing the brand. He has two undeniable assets, starting with the fact that he participated in a large part of the development testing. So he knows the car well and will be sharp coming into the rallies, especially as each time, he will have a pre-event test. He also has experience of the events since he contested most of them last year in the WRC. After the Tour de Corse, he will be competing in Portugal and Sardinia, and then we’ll see what happens after that. In any case, we have faith in his speed, and in his consistency, to get the most out of our new flagship product.”

 

A ROOT AND BRANCH REVIEW WITH PROMISING RESULTS!

Following last year’s introduction of the C3 WRC, 2018 is set to see the competitive debut of the R5 version of Citroën’s muscular city compact, this time aimed at the customer racing market. To ensure it is competitive in the WRC-2 – the feeder category to the WRC – and in the various FIA regional championships (ERC and MERC), as well as in the wide array of national championships, Citroën Racing has undertaken a root and branch review of the design, producing a radically different car to its predecessor. Led by Olivier Maroselli, an experienced engineer renown for having developed several accomplished rally cars, the team of twenty or so people involved in the project started from scratch, in order to be sure of making the best technical choices. This approach was also guided by the fact that the standard in the category is higher than ever before, with several high-profile manufacturers seriously involved. The main challenge concerns the regulations, which are much more restrictive than in the WRC as regards homologation, competitors only being allowed five upgrade tokens in the first two years (only two of which are allowed for safety or reliability reasons) and then five more in the next two years. This is why is so important to get things right first time! In other words, produce a reliable and fast car from the outset. After the traditional design stage in the engineering office, in September 2017 – date on which the car’s first road tests were held – the project team therefore began work testing the car in the wide range of conditions that make rallying such a great but also difficult sport. To assess its handling with a wide variety of grip levels and therefore fine-tune the set-up, the tarmac version of the C3 R5, fitted with its large eighteen-inch tyres, was put through its paces on the demanding roads of Corsica, as well as in the east (Vosges) and south (Tarn) of mainland France. The car also had its first outing in a competitive setting as one of the zero cars at the Rallye du Var in November of last year, driven by Yoann Bonato. A full-scale test session that proved highly successful, both in terms of its popularity with the fans and the times posted by the car. Meanwhile, work continued on the version intended for use on gravel – the most common surface in the WRC – with sessions conducted on gravel roads in Fontjoncouse, near Narbonne, Cardona in Spain and Mazamet, to the north of Carcassonne, all renown for providing cars with a very serious examination. Six thousand kilometres of testing later, Citroën Racing is now able to present an accomplished product, the development of which will be fine-tuned on some very specific surfaces. Further test sessions are scheduled for later this year. Designed for the most ambitious talented young rally drivers as well as gentlemen drivers, teams with international aspirations and those with more modestly-sized operations, this car is all about competitiveness, endurance, versatility and ease of maintenance. But don’t take our word for it, judge for yourself…

ENGINE

Developed in-house, the engine represented an enormous challenge for Citroën’s technical team. “We set ourselves some very ambitious targets,” explained Olivier Maroselli, the project manager. “Targets that we have met by working in three major areas. First of all, reliability and heat management with all the internal parts of the engine, which proved to be very sophisticated. We also paid very special attention to the cylinder head, to increase permeability as much as possible on the intake and exhaust ducts. The last major area of development was the car’s electronics, with a more advanced ECU than what we have had in the past. On the one hand, the purpose of this was to have a much more functional anti-lag system and therefore get much better response from the accelerator during in-gear acceleration. But the idea was also to be constantly as close to the maximum authorised booster pressure, without opening the pop-off valve, which always has a highly detrimental effect on power. All of this means that the engine is now undoubtedly one of the car’s major strengths. All the drivers were in agreement that the car has bags of torque, but we also know that it is also well placed in terms of power, with a higher rating than its rivals.”

GEARBOX

The C3 R5 is fitted – like its famous big sister, the WRC – with a Sadev gearbox. However, the similarities end there, the model used for the C3 R5 having been specially designed for the specific requirements and constraints of the category. “It’s a question of safety, really,” commented Olivier Maroselli. “Although some of the internal components are familiar, and therefore tried and tested, we nonetheless chose to design our own architecture. Our packaging is different in terms of both the width and the height of the gearbox outlets. This is because they have a direct influence on the transmission angles, and therefore the maximum travel allowed. We therefore paid very special attention to this point.”

CHASSIS AND SUSPENSION SYSTEMS

Like its big sister, the C3 WRC, the C3 R5 has two different front suspension geometries depending on whether it is being used on tarmac or gravel. The idea is, in each situation, to optimise both versions of Citroën’s iconic new model, with the chassis and suspensions systems meeting the specific constraints of the surface in question. “As the number of interfaces authorised between the hub carrier, the strut, the suspension arm and the toe rod are very limited, this was no mean feat,” explained Olivier Maroselli. “But we chose to incline the strut towards the rear on tarmac, for the purposes of kinematics, and towards the front on gravel, mainly to do with travel. This is another of the car’s strengths, because we didn’t have to compromise on the designs chosen at all. We were also determined to ensure all of these parts were at the minimum weight. This involved using Reiger shock absorbers. Not only are they very fine-looking products, which provide plenty of room for manoeuvre when it comes to defining the appropriate set-up, but their aluminium struts also helped us to keep the weight down.”

EASE OF MAINTENANCE

Constantly attentive to the concerns of its customers, Citroën Racing were equally determined to ensure the best possible maintenance conditions for the C3 R5, whilst also paying special attention to the durability of the parts selected. “Yes, this was clearly one of the areas we worked on, without however compromising on performance,” admitted Olivier Maroselli. “The gearbox and the front end, for example, can be removed very easily. We have also made a lot of progress on the bodywork, by investing in multi-material technology so that there are rubberized components in all the lower parts of the bumpers and in some areas on the wings. They are therefore more resistant to wear and distortion. Similarly, we covered a lot of miles in tests on really rough gravel surfaces such as at Fontjoncouse, and we noted a vast improvement in the ageing of the body and all of the subframe. Damage to consumable parts, like the protective skidplate, is at a really very good level and that is undoubtedly a plus for running costs.”

STÉPHANE LEFEBVRE / GABIN MOREAU

A pure product of French promotional formulas, Stéphane made his rallying debut in 2010 at just eighteen years old, making a name for himself in 2012 when he finished as overall runner-up and won the junior category in the “Volant Peugeot 207”. His performance earned him a place in the European Rally Championship as part of the Peugeot Rally Academy in 2013, whilst he again finished second overall and first in the Junior class in the 208 Rally Cup. 2014 proved to be an incredibly successful year for Stéphane: he won both the Junior WRC and the WRC3 titles in a DS3 R3, and won the ERC Junior crown in a 208 R2. His potential was such that Citroën Racing decided to gamble on him and instead of contesting just six races in the WRC2 – as initially planned – the JWRC winner competed in all thirteen rounds of the World Championship in 2015, five of which in a DS3 WRC. The highlights of his season came in Germany, where his finished tenth on his WRC debut, and at Wales Rally GB, where he grabbed eighth position. In 2016, the talented young Frenchman began working with co-driver Gabin Moreau, at the same time as joining the Abu Dhabi Total WRT in order to continue honing his skills. He made the perfect start to the season with fifth place in Monte-Carlo, before then producing some promising times in Portugal and Poland. However, his progress was brought to an abrupt halt in Germany in mid-August by a violent crash, which left him on the sidelines until the end of October. Gabin, meanwhile, had to wait until the end of November before he could return to competitive action. Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT renewed their faith in the pair for 2017 and the launch of the C3 WRC. After a tough start to the year, they enjoyed a strong second half to the season, finishing fifth in Poland, sixth in Catalonia and setting some good times in Australia. At the same time, they also played an active role from the outset in the development programme of the C3 R5, Citroën’s latest customer racing product, and took part in the majority of the test sessions. For 2018, armed with experience acquired in the world championship in four-wheel drive cars, Stéphane and Gabin have been tasked by Citroën Racing with showing off the C3 R5’s qualities in the highly competitive WRC2 class.

STÉPHANE LEFEBVRE IN FIGURES

Date and place of birth: 16 March 1992 in Noeux-les-Mines (France)
Competitive debut: 2010
First WRC rally: 2013 Rallye de France
Number of WRC starts: 34
Best result in the WRC : 5th (Monte-Carlo in 2016 and Poland in 2017)

GABIN MOREAU IN FIGURES

Date and place of birth: 28 September 1988 in Saint-Martin-d’Hères (France)
Competitive debut: 2005
First WRC rally : 2013 Rallye de Portugal
Number of WRC starts: 20
Best result in the WRC: 5th (Monte-Carlo in 2016 and Poland in 2017)

THREE QUESTIONS FOR MAYEUL TYL
Peugeot Citroën Racing Shop Manager

What sort of welcome can C3 R5 customers expect here?

I think it’s safe to say we will be really looking after them! We already have about twenty confirmed orders, from France, of course, but also from Belgium, the UK, Spain and Portugal, which just goes to show how successful the car has been throughout Europe. However, it has already become popular outside of Europe since we have also had a lot of potential interest from elsewhere, particularly including requests from Latin America. It is true, of course, that it was designed to impress on all surfaces and locations! However, so that we can be sure of providing the very best in quality of service, we have deliberately limited our assembly capabilities to about thirty cars this first year, before ramping up to close to seventy next year. After that, we’ll adapt according to market demand.

In what specification is the car sold?

The aim is that the car is pretty much ready to go and set times straight away! It is therefore sold fully-assembled, with equipment that meets the highest market standards. By which I mean lamp pods, two spare tyres, a set of wheel rims, intercom/radio, helmet storage net, co-driver torch, harness cutter, a collection of shims, springs, and there are doubtless other items I’ve omitted.

What customer follow-up is planned for the launch?

Obviously, we have a dedicated team of technical advisors, and as part of the market launch of the C3 R5, they will be available as much as possible to provide on-the-ground support and advise the crews and teams as they get used to their new machine. They are equally capable of guiding the drivers about set-up options as advising the mechanics if they are unsure as to how to carry out a technical operation of one kind or another.

TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS C3 R5

CHASSIS
Structure Reinforced body with welded, multi-point roll cage
Bodywork Steel and composite fibre
ENGINE
Type Citroën Racing – 1.6-litre turbocharged direct injection engine with FIA regulated 32mm restrictor
Bore x stroke 77×85.8 mm
Capacity 1,598cc
Maximum Power 282bhp at 5,000rpm
Maximum torque 420Nm at 4,000rpm
Specific output 178bhp/litre
Distribution Double overhead camshaft valve train driven by chain, 4 valves per cylinder
Fuel feed Direct injection controlled by SRG Magneti Marelli unit
CLUTCH
Type Cerametallic Twin-disk
TRANSMISSION
Type Four-wheel drive
Gearbox Sadev Five-speed sequential – Manual control
Differential Front and rear mechanical, self-locking
BRAKES
Front Ventilated disks, 355mm (tarmac) and 300mm (gravel), Alcon 4-pistons calipers
Rear Ventilated disks, 355mm (tarmac) and 300mm (gravel), Alcon 4-pistons calipers
Handbrake Hydraulic control
SUSPENSION
Type McPherson
Shock absorbers REIGER three-way adjustable shock absorbers (low-and-high-speed compression and rebound)
STEERING
Type Hydraulic power-assisted steering
WHEELS
Tarmac 8×18″ wheels – Michelin tyres
Gravel 7×15″ wheels – Michelin tyres
DIMENSIONS, WEIGHT AND CAPACITIES
Length / Width 3,996mm / 1,820mm
Wheel base 2,567mm
Track 1,618 mm (front and rear)
Fuel tank 81 litres
Weight 1,230kg without driver pairing (regulations) / 1,390kg with driver pairing (regulations

Source:
media.citroenracing.com

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Neste Rally Finland Route 2018

March 6, 2018

Year after year, the route of the Finnish round of the FIA World Rally Championship, Neste Rally Finland, has brought about a sense of excited anticipation amongst the drivers. This year, their skills and mental strength are put to a real test on the extremely challenging gravel roads of Central Finland, with different road types and changes in both driving direction and rhythm.

The route features up to 40 per cent of previously unused roads, and the percentage of roads not seen in last year’s rally is as high as 65.

This year again, the intense battle for fractions of a second starts in the heart of Jyväskylä, when the rally car engines are fired up for the Harju city special stage on Thursday 26 July. The rally finishes on Sunday 29 July with the hair-raising jumps of Ruuhimäki. There are 317.26 special stage kilometres in this year’s rally, with the total length of the route being 1 427.49 kilometres.

– The planning of this year’s route has been done with passion. There will be plenty of challenging aspects for everyone – guaranteed – as different road types with different rhythms played a significant role in the road selection process, says the Assistant Clerk of the Course Kari Nuutinen, who is responsible for the rally route.

– Kicking things off is the Shakedown stage that is a good indication of things to come, as it has now been moved from Ruuhimäki to Vesala, located near the city of Jyväskylä. This means that the drivers will have to get used to new roads right from the get-go.

The words “Harju special stage” carry a lot of meaning, history and memories, and they anchor the 2018 Neste Rally Finland to the birthplace and roots of the event, the rally’s spiritual home.

– Everybody wants to drive Harju! It seems to be the least opinion dividing stage on the route. And not only is it run in the immediate vicinity of the city centre – which makes it easily accessible for the fans – it is also a stage that is made to be driven, it’s not just a case of “going around some barrels”.

– We owe a big thank you to the City of Jyväskylä for the fact that Harju is indeed included in the route, as their positive attitude has made it possible for the city special stage to be driven.

Mixed Moksi, brand-new Ässämäki, revamped Oittila

On 27 July, the Friday morning peace and quiet will be disturbed straight after eight o’clock, when the driver leading the championship at that point starts onto the Moksi special stage. The name Moksi is well known from years past, and the road very well-known from the not-so-distant past.

– Moksi is a great summary of this year’s route philosophy. A lot of road changes, with sections from the Vellipohja, Surkee and Parkkola special stages. A truly fantastic stage!

After Moksi, the stages of Urria and Äänekoski are driven before Friday’s first service – but there is also the brand-new, 12.40 kilometres long Ässämäki special stage. Urria features some never-before-driven sections, but the famous giant jump is of course still there. And the driving direction of Äänekoski has been changed from last year.

– In the Ässämäki stage, the first part is actually a section from Halinen that was in last year’s route, but that section is now driven in the opposite direction. And from there, the cars turn onto a totally new road section, which features some small road with a lot of character.

After service, the Friday route heads towards Oittila, which in the last couple of years had become known as the Neste Rally Finland Power Stage. However, Oittila has now grown in length and using the old pacenotes is not really a possibility.

After Oittila, drivers will again tackle the loop familiar from that morning, starting from Moksi. Friday’s finale is the second run on the Harju city special stage, where we will find out who is the true “king of the hill”.

Pihlajakoski – the only stage from last year kept intact

Päijälä gets the honour of starting things off on Saturday. From Päijälä, the route heads via Kuhmoinen to the Pihlajakoski special stage, from where the best rally drivers in the world move onto the Kakaristo special stage. For the most part, the new Kakaristo stage follows the road that is familiar from Ouninpohja – and includes the namesake of the new stage, the legendary Kakaristo junction. Saturday’s morning loop ends with the Tuohikotanen special stage in the Korpilahti area. The rally caravan also returns to Tuohikotanen right after the Jyväskylä Paviljonki service break.

– Just like Friday, Saturday is a tough day. It’s just relentless from morning ‘til night, with the new stages adding their own twist into the mix. This year, the drivers really have to be careful with their pacenotes, as Pihlajakoski is the only special stage in the whole rally that has remained the same as last year.

After the second pass of the Tuohikotanen special stage, Saturday’s afternoon loop consists of Kakaristo, Päijälä and Pihlajakoski – driven for the second time, in that order. And traditionally, Saturday afternoons have often been “the deciders” that determine the result of the day, or even the entire Neste Rally Finland. The day is wrapped up with Saturday’s final service at the Jyväskylä Paviljonki, after which the drivers are given a break for the night.

New partnership with Laukaa, Ruuhimäki’s mega jump

On Sunday, the final battles of Neste Rally Finland 2018 will all take place in the municipality of Laukaa. The Laukaa special stage, which is rich in tradition, made a comeback in 2017. This year, it will be the opening stage of the last day of rallying and it is guaranteed to well and truly wake the drivers up. The final day of Rally Finland won’t be much easier on the drivers either. The Laukaa stage will be driven in the opposite direction, and after that the drivers will get a taste of things to come in the afternoon, as they have a first go on the rollercoaster that is the Ruuhimäki Power Stage.

– We are very pleased and honoured to form an even closer partnership between the municipality of Laukaa and our event. We are building and developing the special stage together with the municipality, just like we have been doing with Äänekoski. This year, Sunday is purely a Laukaa day, Kari Nuutinen explains.

– The final special stage of Neste Rally Finland 2018 is Ruuhimäki, which has undergone a dramatic change. The first part of the stage is totally new and it swings by the Ruuhimäki village. The stage features a lot of different roads and junctions – and there is even a little bit of tarmac road in there too. The rally ends with a brand-new “monster of a jump” that fans really should come and see from far and wide. It’s a never-before-seen spectacle, Nuutinen enthuses.

A total of 317.26 special stage kilometres. Total length of the route being 1 427.49 kilometres.

More detailed information on the Neste Rally Finland route with special stage maps, spectator services and instructions of approach will be published 12 July in the Official Programme. This year, the Rally Finland Official Programme is going to be produced together with Ilta-Sanomat and it will come out as a special issue of the Finnish “Urheilulehti” sports magazine.

Rally Guide 1

Itineraries

Map

360 degree view of the spectator areas

Entry List

KSML.fi – Rally Finland, historic photos

KSML.fi – Rally Finland, historic sites – year by year

Monday 25 June at 18:00 (17:00 CET)

Closing date for entries

Friday 29 June 

Publication of Draft Entry List (Subject to FIA approval)

Thursday 26 July

8:00-13:30 Shakedown Vesala – 4,26 km
12:30 Meet the Crews (invited drivers), Service Park Paviljonki
13:00 FIA Pre-Event Press Conference, Media Centre
13:30-15:00Promotional event with invited drivers, Service Park Paviljonki
18:37 Start of the rally, Service Park Paviljonki
19:00 SS 1 Harju 1 – 2,31 km (road closed at 10:00- 27th July 23:59) Recce Onboard
19:25 Overnight Parc Fermé, Rally HQ
Competitive distance: 2,31 km (Liaison 7,12 km, Total 9,43 km)

Friday 27 July

7:15 Huolto Paviljonki 15 min
8:18 SS 2 Moksi 1 – 20,04 km
9:21 SS 3 Urria 1 – 12,28 km
10:13 SS 4 Ässämäki 1 – 12,33 km
11:36 SS 5 Äänekoski 1 – 7,71 km
12:51 Service Paviljonki 30 min
14:24 SS 6 Oittila – 19,34 km
15:27 SS 7 Moksi 2 – 20,04 km
16:30 SS 8 Urria 2 – 12,28 km
17:22 SS 9 Ässämäki 2 – 12,33 km
18:45 SS 10 Äänekoski 2 – 7,71 km
20:00 SS 11 Harju 2 – 2,31 km (road closed at x:x-x:x) / Vetomies 1st car x:xRecce Onboard
20:30 Service Paviljonki 45 min
21:15 Overnight Parc Fermé, Rally HQ
01:30 All cars must be returned to Parc Fermé no later than

Competitive distance: 126,37 km (Liaison 413,58 km, Total 539,95 km)

Saturday 28 July

6:00 Service Paviljonki 15 min
8:13 SS 12 Päijälä 1 – 23,92 km
9:29 SS 13 Pihlajakoski 1 – 14,90 km / Recce Onboard
10:38 SS 14 Kakaristo 1 – 23,66 km (road closed at x:x-x:x) / Vetomies 1st car x:x
12:13 SS 15 Tuohikotanen 1 – 8,95 km
13:31 Huolto Paviljonki 30 min
14:55 SS 16 Tuohikotanen 2 – 8,95 km
16:08 SS 17 Kakaristo 2 – 23,66 km
17:36 SS 18 Päijälä 2 – 23,92 km
18:54 SS 19 Pihlajakoski 2 – 14,90 km / Recce Onboard
20:55 Service Paviljonki 45 min
21:40 Overnight Parc Fermé, Rally HQ
01:30 All cars must be returned to Parc Fermé no later than

Competitive distance: 142,86 km (Liaison 542,83 km, Total 685,69 km)

Sunday 29 July

7:30 Service Paviljonki 15 min
8:38 SS 20 Laukaa 1 – 11,74 km
9:38 SS 21 Ruuhimäki 1 – 11,12 km
11:01 SS 22 Laukaa 2 – 11,74 km
13:18 SS 23 Ruuhimäki 2 (PS) – 11,12 km
14:21 Service Paviljonki 10 min
16:00 Podium Paviljonki
16:45 FIA Post-Event Press Conference, Service Park Paviljonki

Competitive distance: 45,72 km (Liaison 146,70 km, Total 192,42 km)

all times local

Rally total:
23 special stages
Special Stages total: 317,26 km (22,2 %) = the percentage of the total distance of special stages
Liaison 1110,23 km
Route total: 1427,49 km

Vetomies-competition

x special stages
Special Stages total: x,x km
Liaison x,x km
Route total: x,x km

Source:
www.nesterallyfinland.fi

All over the world: First customers confirmed for the new Volkswagen Polo GTI R5

January 23, 2018

The anticipation is half the fun: Shortly before the start of the 2018 rally season, Volkswagen has now provided the first 15 customers with information on the delivery of their new Polo GTI R5*. Development of the four-wheel drive rally car for the customer sports scene, which is based on the new sixth generation Polo, began at the start of last year, and the new car was presented to the public for the first time in December. Demand for the new rally Polo is great – not least because the Polo GTI R5 incorporates all the know-how of its predecessor, which won four world titles in the pinnacle of rallying, the WRC.

“We are overwhelmed by the positive feedback on the Polo GTI R5,” said Volkswagen Motorsport Director Sven Smeets. “The customer demand is enormous. We are obviously pleased about this, and it is an additional motivation to provide the teams with the best possible rally car.”

No distance is too great: Roughly 11,000 kilometres as the crow flies to reach the customer

15 of the 272-hp Polo GTI R5 are set to be delivered to the first customers in the second half of this year. Three cars will be sent to Austria and the Baumschlager Rallye & Racing GmbH team run by Austria rally champion Raimund Baumschlager, who won the 2017 Austrian Rally Championship with a Polo R WRC. Three cars have also been sold to teams from Belgium: two to BMA and one Polo GTI R5 to THX Racing.

Two Polo GTI R5s will be on their way to the Printsport Oy team in the home of rallying, Finland. Printsport has succesfully implemented projects with young and talented drivers like Esapekka Lappi, Ole Christian Veiby and Jari Huttunen. They currently have Lukasz Pieniazek from Poland and Emil Lindholm, son of multiple Finnish champion Sebastian Lindholm, in their team. A further two Polo GTI R5s will be run by the HK Racing team in Italy. One rally GTI will also be sent to Portugal. And a GTI R5 has also been sold to Sweden and Kristoffersson Motorsport.

The longest journey – almost 11,000 kilometres as the crow flies – will be undertaken by three Polo GTI R5s, as they are shipped to the South American country of Paraguay. Miguel Carrizosa/DIESA S.A., a Volkswagen importer in Paraguay, will run the cars at national events there.

“We assemble each car by hand in our workshop in Hannover,” said Juliane Gründl, head of sales and distribution at Volkswagen Motorsport. “We are on schedule. However, we are still in the process of structuring production, and in the implementation phase in the aftersales area. We obviously want to be ideally positioned in time for the sales launch.”

Source:
volkswagen-motorsport.com

WRC – Summary of regulation changes for 2018

January 16, 2018

Throughout the course of last year the World Motor Sport Council approved a number of changes to the Sporting Regulations for the 2018 FIA World Rally Championship. The main amendments are as follows:

Private teams or individual drivers will be permitted to enter 2017 specification World Rally Cars on WRC events, without the obligation to be entered by a manufacturer. P1 status will be given to all drivers entered with 2017 WRC Cars. Such entries will however remain subject to the approval of the FIA Rally Department.

Dedicated testing regulations for P1 drivers entered with a 2017 WRC Car but who are not nominated to score points for a manufacturer have been introduced. These drivers are not permitted to test outside Europe, bringing them into line with the restrictions placed on the other P1 teams.

If a driver is shown in the Power Stage classification but is not classified in the Final Classification, the Stewards will decide whether the next competitor should be moved up in the Power Stage classification for the attribution of Power Stage points.

DMACK, Michelin and Pirelli are the official tyre suppliers for 2018. Pirelli is the official partner of the FIA Junior WRC Championship and for competitors registered solely in the FIA WRC 3 Championship there is no imposed tyre supplier.

Tyres used during the shakedown will not count in the overall quantity for the rally. For WRC Cars, the four tyres used during the shakedown must be from the same compound, as defined by the tyre suppliers.

The FIA WRC 2 Championship will continue to be contested over seven events, with the best six scores counting towards the title. However there will no longer be mandatory rallies.

Drivers entered with R5 cars who are not registered in the FIA WRC 2 Championship, or who have not been entered by a registered WRC 2 Team during the year, may use any tyre brand, including those not nominated by the FIA for the WRC.

There will be no WRC Trophy title, although 2016 World Rally Cars remain eligible in the Championship events.

Source:
www.fia.com

Pierre Budar, appointed Director of Citroën Racing

January 15, 2018

Pierre Budar succeeds Yves Matton, who joins the FIA as FIA Rally Director, after having initiated the return of the brand to the WRC.

The Citroën Racing Team, under the leadership of Pierre Budar, to reconnect with the brand’s prestigious victories in motorsport, with 8 World rally championship titles, 3 WTCC World championship titles and 4 victories at Paris-Dakar Rally.

A graduate of the Ecole Centrale de Nantes, Pierre Budar joined Groupe PSA in 1989 as an engineer before being an official 309 Group N driver for the Peugeot Talbot Sport Team in 1991 and pursuing a brilliant career in engineering in France and in Asia.

After having created in 2010 the department of sports road versions (DS3 Racing, 208 GTi 30th, 308 GTi, DS3 Performance), he expanded his scope in 2016 to activities related to the Customer Competition. With his teams, he notably developed the 308 TCR and the C3R5.

His passion and his skills are undoubtedly an asset to reinvigorate Citroën Racing who is preparing to start the 2018 season of WRC at Monte Carlo rally with his C3WRC entrusting young talents Kris Meeke / Paul Nagle and Craig Breen / Scott Martin

On the occasion of his appointment Pierre Budar says: “Groupe PSA has given me a unique opportunity to reconcile my passion for motorsport with an engineering career. I never imagined one day running one of the most prestigious competition teams in the world. I measure the challenge that is proposed to me at the head of an extraordinary team and I will strive to obtain the best of its talents”

Jean Marc Finot, Senior Vice President of PSA Motorsport, adds: “I am proud that the FIA nominates Yves Matton to this prestigious position and would like to thank him for his contribution. I am pleased to give Pierre Budar the opportunity to express all his energy and enthusiasm in the service of our passion: motorsport”

Source:
media.groupe-psa.com

M-Sport confirm Suninen for eight rounds in Ford Fiesta WRC

January 12, 2018

M-Sport Ford World Rally Team are pleased to confirm that Teemu Suninen and Mikko Markkula will take to the wheel of the Cumbrian squad’s third EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta WRC on eight rounds of the 2018 FIA World Rally Championship.

With his Fiesta in essentially the same livery as team mates Sébastien Ogier and Elfyn Evans, Suninen will form a part of the manufacturer team at Rally Sweden, Rally Mexico, Rally de Portugal, Rally Italia Sardegna, Rally Finland, the Rally of Turkey, Wales Rally GB and Rally de España.

In addition, the Finn will also take to the wheel of the Ford Fiesta R5 as part of the FIA World Rally Championship’s premier support series – WRC 2 – at Rallye Monte-Carlo and Rallye Deutschland.

Following an impressive debut at the highest level of competition in 2017, Suninen is thoroughly deserving of further WRC outings and was the clear choice to assist M-Sport in the defence of their manufacturer title.

The Finn made his top-flight debut at last year’s Rally Poland. Securing an impressive sixth place finish on his competitive debut, he also had no hesitation in claiming his first stage victory – setting the fastest time through the Polish event’s seventh speed test.

Next time out at Rally Finland, he went even further – claiming a further three fastest stage times and challenging for a podium position on only his second outing with the Ford Fiesta WRC.

With eight events behind the wheel of the top-specification Fiesta in 2018, Suninen will have plenty of opportunity to prove his potential once more – and could well be knocking on the door of a maiden WRC podium.

Teemu Suninen said:

“This will be a nice season for us and I am very happy about my programme for 2018. The highlight will of course be the eight rallies with the Ford Fiesta WRC as part of the M-Sport Ford World Rally Team where I think we have a good opportunity to prove our potential.

“The plan is to start those rallies in a relaxed state of mind. There’s no now or never situation or anything like that and no need to focus on our position in the drivers’ championship. We’ll just take it rally by rally and make the most of every event we do.

“We need to ensure that we make the most of this opportunity, and that is exactly what we plan to do. I’m really looking forward to getting back behind the wheel of a top-specification world rally car and aim to learn as much as I can.”

Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:

“There is no doubting Teemu’s potential and I am sure that he will prove himself a very valuable member of our team this year. More than a few heads were turned when he got behind the wheel of the Ford Fiesta WRC for the first time last year. To secure a stage win on your debut outing is one thing, but to be challenging for a podium on your second is quite another.

“There is no denying that Teemu is a very talented young driver, and a future rally winner. With eight rallies this year he’ll get the vital experience needed to develop his career at this level and I would not be at all be surprised if we saw him challenging for a podium or two.”

Source:
m-sport.co.uk

WRC 2018 season launch

January 11, 2018