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HMDP ready for 2018 debut

January 9, 2018

The 2018 season for Hyundai Motorsport´s driver development program (HMDP) will get off to an exciting start at the Autosport International show in the UK this week.

Hyundai Motorsport´s HMDP crew, Jari Huttunen and co-driver Antti Linnaketo, will join selected rounds of the WRC2 championship this season. The Finnish crew, who were chosen after a competitive selection process last year, will participate first in Sweden before heading overseas to Mexico.

“I am honoured to be representing the HMDP in WRC2 this season,” said 23-year-old Jari. “It will be a learning curve and I intend to make the most of the opportunity.”

WRC2 promises to be a thrilling battle in 2018 with plenty of top name manufacturers and drivers vying for victory. “The competition is going to be tough,” adds Jari. “We have a great car and a lot of optimism, which we will try to translate into positive results.”

The popular Autosport International event will also mark the debut of a new livery for our NG i20 R5 car, which will feature the HMDP logo prominently on the front, side and rear.

Team Manager Alain Penasse commented: “HMDP perfectly showcases our commitment to identify and nurture new rallying talent. With Jari, we feel we have a real star in the making. Our NG i20 R5 with its new livery will look fantastic on the WRC2 stages.”

Jari and Antti’s first WRC2 event in Sweden takes place February 15-18.



Bouffier confirmed for Monte Carlo and Corsica

January 8, 2018

M-Sport Ford World Rally Team are pleased to confirm that Bryan Bouffier will take to the wheel of the third EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta WRC for two rounds of the 2018 FIA World Rally Championship – Rallye Monte-Carlo and the Tour de Corse.

The Frenchman has strong knowledge of both events, and his unrivalled experience will provide a significant asset on what are considered two of the championship’s most specialised rallies.

Having contested the Monegasque event for the past eight years, and the Corsican event for the past seven, Bouffier’s knowledge is unequalled. As a past winner of both rallies, the Frenchman has expertise when it comes to understanding the challenging conditions that have come to typify the two legendary events.

Whilst contesting the Intercontinental Rally Challenge in 2011, Bouffier secured something every driver wants to achieve – a Rallye Monte-Carlo victory.

Three years later as part of the FIA World Rally Championship, he came close to a second victory – mastering the elements to take an early lead with his Fiesta before having to settle for second place behind Ogier.

In 2013, he also mastered the Tour de Corse as part of the FIA European Rally Championship. Locked in an intense battle for the win, the tricky final day conditions saw Bouffier pull clear with a proficient approach to tyre strategy.

All of these elements will make the Frenchman a strong addition to the team when the Cumbrian squad start their title defence in just over two weeks’ time.

Bryan Bouffier said:

“My nights are a lot shorter now that I know I will be driving one of these amazing cars, and I have already done a lot of kilometres with the Ford Fiesta WRC in my dreams.

“I honestly didn’t think I would get an opportunity to drive this car – not even on test – so I am very excited. It’s always a great pleasure to work with Malcolm and the M-Sport team, and their amazing success in 2017 makes me very proud to work with them again.

“Monte and Corsica are two very different events, but they are also two of my favourites. They’re the two ‘French’ rounds of the season and it is always a pleasure to drive on home soil – even more so with this new car!

“My plan is to be relaxed and to have fun. I would also love to score some manufacturer points for the team – that would just be the icing on the cake!”

Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:

“It’s great to have Bryan on board for Rallye Monte-Carlo and the Tour de Corse. When it comes to these events, it’s fair to say that his experience is unrivalled. These are two of the most specialised rallies on the calendar and the conditions and tyre selections can so often determine who succeeds. With Bryan’s knowledge, we will have another string to our bow as we look to defend our championship titles.”


2018 FIA WRC

December 22, 2017

Manufacturer Entrants






Citroën unveils its driver line-up for 2018

December 20, 2017

Contesting the full season next year, Kris Meeke will spearhead the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team, whilst Craig Breen will drive the second Citroën C3 WRC at ten rounds of the championship and Khalid Al Qassimi will appear in a third car at a handful of rallies.

Sébastien Loeb will be making a much-anticipated return to the WRC with the brand in Mexico, Corsica and Catalonia.

Meanwhile, Stéphane Lefebvre will be tasked with driving the Citroën C3 R5 on its debut season in the WRC2.

Reaching the historic figure of one hundred World Rally Championship wins is one of the objectives that Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT has set itself for 2018. To secure the two victories needed to break this record, or indeed even surpass it, the team will once again be putting its faith in Kris Meeke, now capableof winning on any surface, as demonstrated by the five WRC rallies he has won since starting to compete for Citroën at world level in 2013. On the return of Citroën to the WRC as a works team this year, the 38 year-old Briton bagged the Citroën C3 WRC’s maiden victory in only its third race, on the Mexican gravel, before also excelling on the tarmac in Corsica. The second part of the season confirmed his ability to take on the responsibilities of team leader. The highlight being a second, resounding win on the gravel and tarmac of Rally Catalunya, and a determined attitude, befitting that of a leader.

Kris will be supported in showcasing the qualities of the Citroën C3 WRC at ten rounds of the championship by Craig Breen, who enjoyed an incredibly consistent first full season in the WRC, so much so that he racked up no fewer than six fifth-place finishes. After learning about rallying at world level in 2016 as part of the Abu Dhabi Total WRT and finishing an impressive third overall in Finland, the 27 yearold Irishman is very determined to build on the experience acquired this year and secure more podiums in 2018.

The 2018 season will also see the Loeb-Elena crew back competing for Citroën, thus reforming a partnership that has already claimed nine world drivers’ and co-drivers’ titles (2004 to 2012), eight manufacturers’ titles (2003 to 2005 and 2008 to 2012) and some seventy-eight rally wins. After retiring from full-time involvement in the WRC at the end of 2012, and having contested only four rallies in 2013 and made a one-off appearance at the 2015 Rallye Monte-Carlo, Sébastien Loeb will be looking to find the feeling specific to rallying when he drives the second works Citroën C3 WRC in Mexico, Corsica and Spain. It will be a chance for the rally legend to enhance his illustrious record even further at events where he has previously won on six, four and eight occasions respectively, whilst also enabling Citroën’s ‘Red Army’ to benefit from his immense, almost unrivalled experience.

The team’s loyalty is also reflected in the continuing involvement of Khalid Al Qassimi, who will drive a third Citroën C3 WRC on a few occasions, whilst Stéphane Lefebvre will be given the task of promoting the new Citroën C3 R5 in the highly competitive WRC2 class.


Yves Matton, Citroën Racing Team Principal
“For 2018, we have decided to capitalise on what we’ve been building for a number of seasons now with Kris and Craig. Kris’ speed is unquestionable, and with the more relaxed mindset he had at the end of the year, he proved he had it in him to be a leader. The aim will be to target podiums, secure some wins, but Kris can also go for position in the championship. Meanwhile, Craig proved that he was the perfect foil, with some very consistent performances. There is still room for him to improve and aim even higher. I’m also delighted to see that there will be another chapter in the great history between Sébastien Loeb and Citroën: he couldn’t have returned to the WRC with anyone other than us! Seb confirmed that he has lost none of his speed and skill during the test sessions completed, although he is bound to be short of knowledge of the stages and time in the car, compared with the increasingly tough competition. We still believe in Stéphane: we are convinced that he will be a good ambassador for the Citroën C3 R5, for which the brand has great hopes. And this programme will allow him to continue to add to his experience and therefore keep improving.”

Kris Meeke
“We learned a lot during the first season with the Citroën C3 WRC and we’ve gathered a lot of informationto help us do better in 2018. Despite a few tough moments, we managed to show our potential. We are now going to try even harder to be more consistent on the variety of surfaces used in the championship. We won’t be taking anything for granted but by working in a relaxed and calm manner, we can achieve good things. We’ll be aiming to score heavily at Monte-Carlo and in Sweden in order to get off to a good start in this second campaign.”

Craig Breen
“I’m delighted to stay with the team for another year. I had a lot of things to learn this first full year in the WRC, but I managed to be consistent. We also worked a lot on fine-tuning the handling of the Citroën C3 WRC, and the progress made on gravel at the end of the season fills me with optimism. We have to keep going in order to obtain even better results. In any case, I’m going to do everything I can to get my first win at events like Rally Finland or Wales GB Rally, where I have a bit of experience.”

Sébastien Loeb
“Everyone was pleased after the test sessions done this year, myself first and foremost, and these three appearances were the next logical step. The feeling you get in rally is one of the most thrilling feelings I have ever experienced, and I was excited about driving one of these new WRCs in a race. And it’s nice to be able to do it in the team with which I have enjoyed so much success! I don’t have any expectations, I just want to enjoy myself. I thought it made sense to take part in the French round, especially since I’ve always loved racing on tarmac, although I’m not familiar with the current route of the Tour de Corse. Spain seemed like a good option too. And although I’m expecting it to be pretty tough given the time that has passed since I last competed there, I also wanted to contest a gravel rally. We opted for Mexico, since I have good memories of racing there and the route hasn’t changed too much since I was last involved in the championship.”

Khalid Al Qassimi
“We focused on 2018 as regards the development of the Citroën C3 WRC and it was therefore important to continue with the drivers who already know the team and the car well. Kris and Craig make a good duo. Like many fans, I’m also very excited at the idea of seeing Sébastien Loeb back in the WRC driving a Citroën! My commitments mean that I’ll only be taking part in a handful of rallies this year. Although I won’t be able to be in Monte-Carlo, which is held just after the Dakar Rally, I will obviously be following the start to our season with great interest.”

Stéphane Lefebvre
“It’s a new challenge for the new year: sometimes, you have to take a step back, before taking two steps forward. I’ve been given a great opportunity to show just how competitive the Citroën C3 R5 is, whilst still competing as a works driver in the WRC2, a very closely contested championship. The aim is to win the title, and make the car the new benchmark in the category. Having driven it already in tests, I know that it is a well-designed car. Given that there is a need to finalise its development, I’ll come into the races with a lot of miles under my belt, and that’s what really matters at this stage of my career.”


VOTE! WRC 2017: @rallyparadise´s Driver of the Year & Moment of the Rally

December 11, 2017

FIA WRC 2018 / World Motor Sport Council decisions

December 7, 2017

From 2018, 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. Such entries will remain subject to the approval of the FIA Rally Department, and specific restrictions on testing will apply.

The FIA confirms DMACK, Michelin and Pirelli as the nominated tyre suppliers for the 2018 FIA World Rally Championship.

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.

From next season, 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. This will ensure more local drivers have the possibility to compete in WRC events.

There will be no WRC Trophy title from 2018, although 2016 World Rally Cars remain eligible in the Championship.

The calendar for the 2018 FIA World Rally Championship is:

26‐28 January Monaco Rally of Monte Carlo
16‐18 February Sweden Rally of Sweden
09‐11 March Mexico Rally of Mexico
06‐08 April France Rally of France‐Tour de Corse
27‐29 April Argentina Rally of Argentina
18‐20 May Portugal Rally of Portugal
08‐10 June Italy Rally of Italy
27‐29 July Finland Rally of Finland
17‐19 August Germany Rally of Germany
14‐16 September Turkey Rally of Turkey
05‐07 October Great Britain Rally of Great‐Britain
26‐28 October Spain Rally of Spain
16‐18 November Australia Rally of Australia

Rally Commission

To increase participation by reducing costs, only the four best results will count towards the final classification of ERC 2.

From 2018 it will no longer be necessary to register for the FIA African Rally Championship, enabling more crews to score points in the series. To aid cost reduction, the minimum total distance of special stages has also been decreased to 150 kilometres and competitors who have retired will be permitted to restart under Rally 2 regulations.

To help increase participation, a Cup will be created for competitors driving SUV cars in the FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship. Homologation of these vehicles will be completed by individual ASNs for final approval by the APRC Executive Committee.

The 2018 FIA European Rally Championship calendar is:

22-24 March Azores Airlines Rallye Portugal, gravel, ERC Junior
3-5 May Rally Islas Canarias Spain, asphalt ERC Junior
1-3 June Acropolis Rally Greece, gravel*
15-17 June Cyprus Rally Cyprus, gravel
22-22 July Rally di Roma Capitale Italy, asphalt ERC Junior
24-26 August Barum Czech Rally Zlín Czech Republic, asphalt, ERC Junior
21-23 September Rally Poland Poland, gravel, ERC Junior
12-14 October Rally Liepāja Latvia, gravel, ERC Junior

*Subject to signing of event promoter agreement

The 2018 FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship calendar is:

05‐06 May New Zealand Whangarei
01‐03 June Australia Canberra
21‐22 July Malaysia Johor
15‐16 September Japan Hokkaido
20‐21 October China Longyou
01‐02 December India Chikmagalur

The 2018 FIA Middle East Rally Championship calendar is:

03‐05 May Jordan Jordan Rally
15‐17 June Cyprus Cyprus Rally
06‐08 or 13‐15 July Lebanon Rally of Lebanon
05‐07 September Iran Iran International Rally
01‐03 November Kuwait Kuwait International Rally
15‐17 November Qatar Qatar International Rally

The 2018 FIA African Rally Championship calendar is:

23‐25 February Ivory Coast Rallye Bandama Côte D’Ivoire
16‐18 March Kenya Safari Rally Kenya
19‐21 April South Africa York Rally South Africa
22‐24 June Zambia Zambia International Rally
20‐22 July Uganda Pearl of Africa Uganda Rally
24‐26 August Tanzania Rally of Tanzania
21‐23 September Rwanda Rwanda Mountain Gorilla Rally

The 2018 FIA European Historic Sporting Rally Championship calendar is:

6‐17 March Spain 66 Rally Moritz Costa Brava
20‐21 April Czech Republic 27 Historic Vltava Rally
24‐26 May Spain 10 Rally Asturias Historico
21‐23 June Belgium Ypres Historic Rally
10‐11 August Finland Lahti Historic Rally
30 August ‐ 01 September Italy 23 Rally Alpi Orientali Historic*
20‐22 September Italy XXX Rally Elba Storico
12‐13 October Hungary 51 Mecsek Rally
01‐03 November Germany 20 ADMV Lausitz Rally


World premiere of the new Volkswagen Polo GTI R5

December 4, 2017

The stage is set for the rally GTI: The Volkswagen Polo GTI R5 enjoyed a successful world premiere. The four-wheel drive rally car for customer sports, which is based on the sixth and latest generation of the new Polo, was introduced to the public for the first time at the official driving presentation of the Polo GTI in Mallorca on Monday evening. The development of the new rally sports car incorporated the experience and know-how acquired whilst winning four world titles in the pinnacle of rallying, the WRC, from 2013 to 2016.

“Presenting the new Polo GTI R5 to the public was a magnificent moment,” said Volkswagen Motorsport Director Sven Smeets. “The close relationship to the road-going Polo GTI is unmistakable. In the rally Polo, the GTI family has another spectacular ambassador. Our team and the colleagues at Volkswagen Design in Wolfsburg deserve great credit for this. Over the coming months, the Polo GTI R5 must prove itself in a series of tough scenarios, in order to ensure that it can build on the success of its predecessor in the customers’ hands.”

Initial tests successful, homologation planned for late summer 2018

Development of the Polo GTI R5 has been in full swing since the start of the year. Initial tests on asphalt and gravel took place in mid-November in Fontjoncouse, France, and will continue in Great Britain in December. Responsibility for the entire project lies with Technical Director François-Xavier “FX” Demaison, as well as Project Manager Jan de Jongh, who, as race engineer, looked after world champion Sébastien Ogier’s Polo R WRC from 2013 to 2016.

“The Polo GTI R5 came through the initial tests without any problems. The feedback from the test drivers was very positive,” says Demaison. “It is obviously beneficial to be able to call upon an experienced team of engineers and mechanics, who helped to develop the Polo that won the world championship. And it goes without saying that, as we have in the past, we are also taking advantage of the close and excellent cooperation with the colleagues in the technical development department in Wolfsburg, as well as our Škoda colleagues, who have been offering their customers an R5 car since 2015.”

As in the GTI for the streets: four-cylinder turbo engine with direct fuel injection

Like the production model – the new Polo GTI – the Polo GTI R5 has a powerful straight four-cylinder turbo engine with direct fuel injection, which is mounted transversely in front of the front axle. The capacity of the rally car is limited to 1.6 litres, in accordance with regulations. This is sufficient to generate an impressive 200 kW (272 hp) and maximum torque of 400 Newton metres. A close-stepped, sequential, five-speed racing gearbox and permanent four-wheel drive achieve outstanding acceleration on any surface – whether asphalt, gravel or snow. Weighing just 1,320 kilograms, the rally GTI accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h in just 4.1 seconds.

The four-door, steel chassis, which serves as the basis for the assembly, is manufactured at the production plant in Pamplona, Spain. In accordance with FIA regulations, it is strengthened with a role cage and other safety components. The Polo GTI R5 will be homologated in the summer of 2018. The first deliveries to customer sports teams, and the first competitive outings, are planned for the second half of the year.

In 2012, the International Automobile Federation FIA passed the R5 regulations for a new generation of rally cars, aimed primarily at customer teams, talented youngsters and privateers. Since then, more than 400 cars have been produced by five different manufacturers and have been in action in national and international championships all over the world.