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Kennard gives Marshall the nod as Paddon´s co-driver

May 29, 2017

Professional rally driver Hayden Paddon will continue with his new co-driver Brit Sebastian Marshall for all future events following a mutually-agreed decision between Paddon and long-time co-driver John Kennard.

In a decision announced in March, Kennard was scheduled to conclude his competitive career alongside Paddon at Rally Finland. Marshall, who has worked with Hyundai Motorsport for several years, was announced as Kennard’s replacement not long after. But the Blenheim-based co-driver needed to step aside from his co-driving duties for the recent Rally de Portugal due to a hip injury.

Unfortunately for Kennard, his hip has not had enough time to recover in time for the next event in Sardinia. And with just two more rallies – Poland and Finland – before Marshall is in the car full-time with Paddon, Kennard says he feels it is be best for Paddon to continue with Marshall to build the new partnership for the future.

Kennard says: “Unfortunately my hip’s condition still won’t allow me to take on the rough gravel of Sardinia and while I’d dearly love to get back in the car to finish my WRC career with Hayden in Poland and Finland, it really wouldn’t make any sense. We’ve had a terrible start to the year, so it’s most important to grab some positivity and move forward in the last half of the season. We’ve already seen a spark of that with Hayden and Seb in Portugal, so I’m sure by staying together they can keep it going and they’ll be back on the podium very soon, where I’ll be with them in spirit.”

“It’s not an easy decision,” says Paddon, “but it’s something we all feel is best for the future and something that John is very supportive of and recommends himself.”

Paddon continues: “As we’ve said all along, even though he won’t be in the car, John continues to play an important role in our World Rally Championship programme. John will be at all WRC events this year, supporting us on the gravel rallies and helping us as our gravel crew on the tarmac rallies.

“I’m very pleased that John will co-drive for me when we’re back in New Zealand contesting the Coromandel round of the New Zealand Rally Championship in our Hyundai i20 AP4+ car.

“We’re also looking forward to a special send-off at Rally Finland, an event that has special relevance and importance to John’s career.”

Paddon and Marshall line up for their next WRC event with Hyundai Motorsport on the Italian island of Sardinia, running 8-11 June.


Andreas Mikkelsen to compete for Citroën at Rally Italia Sardegna

May 23, 2017

Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team has changed its line-up for Rally Italia Sardegna (8-11 June), with the arrival of Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jaeger in the no.9 Citroën C3 WRC.

At the halfway stage of the season, this mutually beneficial opportunity will enable the team take advantage of the experience of the crew that finished third in the 2016 World Championship. Meanwhile, the Norwegian duo will make their return to the championship’s top category in a 2017-spec World Rally Car.

Citroën Racing remains true to its policy aimed at identifying and developing talented young rally drivers, and shall honour its commitments. Stéphane Lefebvre and Gabin Moreau will be back in the C3 WRC at Rally Poland (29 June-2 July).

When it returned as a works team in the FIA World Rally Championship, Citroën’s main target was to win rallies in normal racing conditions. Having scored one win, secured at Rally Guanajuato Mexico, this target has been partially achieved.

The events of the first half of the season have nonetheless led to Citroën Racing studying the expansion of its driver line-up. Andreas Mikkelsen is therefore set to compete on behalf of the team on a one-off basis at Rally Italia Sardegna. Having finishing third in the 2016 World Championship, winning two rounds in the process, but without a WRC drive this season, the Norwegian will be making his first appearance in the Citroën C3 WRC. In order to prepare as effectively as possible, Citroën Racing will be organising a day of testing before the rally.

Due to this one-off appearance, Stéphane Lefebvre will not be competing at Rally Italia Sardegna. The Frenchman will take part in recce for the event, before focusing on his next competitive outing at Rally Poland.

In taking this opportunity to call upon an experienced, available driver, Citroën has restated its determination to be fully successful on its return as a works team in the FIA World Rally Championship.


Yves Matton, Citroën Racing Team Principal

“After the first six rounds of the season, it would appear that the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT’s results have fallen a little short of the targets set at the start of the year. At the same time, Andreas Mikkelsen has been actively looking for a drive in the WRC’s top category. We have therefore come to an agreement for him to compete at Rally Italia Sardegna in one of our C3 WRCs. I think I can say that we are all delighted with this opportunity! Andreas has a fair amount of experience at this rally, which is not the case for us since the Abu Dhabi Total WRT didn’t compete in Sardinia last year. Given his limited preparation, Andreas won’t have a specific target for the rally. We’ll be just looking for him to drive at a pace that is consistent with how comfortable he feels in the car. We would like to thank the FIA and Skoda Motorsport for agreeing to this change and Stéphane Lefebvre, who is giving up his place on this rally. This is not a sanction of any kind, nor does it call into question our investment in the young drivers. The decision is merely intended to maximise Citroën’s chances. Stéphane accepted that it was necessary to put the team first in this case; he will still be in Sardinia to take part in recce and will then be competing at Rally Poland.”

Andreas Mikkelsen

“It’s an open secret that I have been looking for a solution to keep competing in the top category of the WRC since the end of the 2016 season. I’m therefore very happy to be joining the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT at Rally Italia Sardegna. Citroën has an impressive competitive record in the WRC and I’m delighted to be able to work with a team like this. In winning the season’s opening gravel rally, the Citroën C3 WRC has shown it has potential and it seems to be making regular progress. I can’t wait to get my bearings in testing and then start working on preparing for the rally. I’ll no doubt be short of running time in the car at the start, but the main thing for me is to be back racing in the leading category in a strong team. I would like to thank everyone who has worked to make this opportunity possible.”


Lappi to make World Rally Car debut on Rally de Portugal

April 18, 2017

TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team test driver Esapekka Lappi and his co-driver Janne Ferm will make their first appearances at the top level of the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) on Rally de Portugal in May.

Lappi will join his team-mates Jari-Matti Latvala and Juho Hänninen in the squad for the May 19-21 event, driving a third Yaris WRC at the start of a limited programme of WRC rounds, which will be selected according to development requirements.

The car has performed well since its debut on Rallye Monte-Carlo, and was driven to victory by Latvala on just its second event in Sweden in February, but TOYOTA GAZOO Racing is continuing to learn during the first season of the WRC project. With the team having collected plenty of data from the previous events, adding a third car when needed will help to accelerate the development of the Yaris WRC.

Lappi, who is one of the brightest prospects in rallying and last year won the WRC 2 title, joined TOYOTA GAZOO Racing prior to the 2017 season and has got to know the Yaris WRC well during testing. Through real competition, the 26-year-old Finn will be able to gain further experience to keep him match-fit.

Tommi Mäkinen (Team Principal)
“Esapekka is a very young and very hungry driver, this is for sure, but of course he has not had so much time to test the car before his first rally. I know that he will do his best, and the objective for him personally is the same as the objective for the whole team: he needs to finish the rallies and collect as much information as possible. There is still a lot of progress that we can make with our car and he is going to be an important part of that development process. Of course, you learn a lot from testing on your own but you learn even more from real competition against everyone else when that is part of a testing programme, which is why we have made this decision to run Esapekka and Janne on some rallies this year. It is good to give some young boys a chance as well.”

Esapekka Lappi (Test Driver)
“This is the moment I have been working for all of my life: it is an amazing opportunity to drive a World Rally Car and I am so happy. I actually first met Tommi and Mr Toyoda together on Rally Finland in 2014, just to say hello, but I had no idea back then that I would end up driving for them now! I have not had a lot of testing with Yaris WRC so I will need to build my experience as it is a very big step up from R5. For Janne too, there will be plenty to get used to, as the pace notes are coming so much faster! But step by step we will all learn together. My goal is to try and get to the finish of the rallies without issues. If you can do that, then you always have a good chance of scoring some points.”

Esapekka Lappi Highlights

Date of birth: 17 January 1991
Age: 26 years old
Nationality: Finnish
2007: Karting Finnish Champion
2008: Rally sprint (won all the rounds)
2009: First rally
2011: First WRC rally (Rally Finland, Rookie of the Year award)
2012: Finnish Rally Champion (won all the rounds)
2013: First WRC 2 victory in Vodafone Rally de Portugal
2014: FIA ERC Champion
2016: WRC 2 World Rally Champion (5 wins)
WRC 2 Statistics:
WRC 2 starts: 17, Victories: 7, Podiums: 11,
Points scored: 245, Stage wins: 126


Veiby to enter Asian Pacific Rally Championship with Skoda Motorsport

April 11, 2017

Ole Christian Veiby has signed a deal with Skoda Motorsport and is now Norway’s only works driver in rally. The 20-year-old will help Skoda win the team championship in the FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship.

“This is totally awesome and a big step towards the goal of getting a contract with one of the WRC teams. If I look back, it has gone incredibly fast since I started driving crosskart as a 15-year-old to where I am now. To already get such an adventurous opportunity means extremely much. This is going to be insanely cool” said Ole Christian Veiby, who together with his co-driver Stig Rune Skjærmoen will participate at the six events in the FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) for Skoda Motorsport. The first event takes place in New Zealand already on 28th to 30th of April.

“This is a unique chance. To work with Skoda Motorsport gives us a great opportunity to get a WRC contract later on. We have seen that happen several times with other drivers. Therefore it is very important to do well” he said.

When Volkswagen Motorsport ended their rally commitment, Andreas Mikkelsen lost his job and for the first time in many years, Norway was left without a manufacturer driver in rally. But with Ole Christian Veiby’s new Skoda contract, a Norwegian driver is back in the game.

“I know that Skoda has followed my career for a while and I’ve felt like they have had a good eye for us and how we work in Even Management. After the third place at the Swedish WRC round, it was confirmed that they would give us the chance to do the APRC. Our performance in Sweden was probably a big factor in getting us the contract and was in that way a very important result for us” he explained.

Ole’s team-mates in Even Management, Pontus Tidemand and Esapekka Lappi, have both previously recieved the same opportunity with Skoda and they have told him that there are some quite unique gravel rallies that awaits him on the other side of the planet. Pontus won the APRC in 2015, while Esapekka contested selected events in 2013 and 2014 and won several of them.

“I’ve mostly spoken to Pontus and he said that you can’t compare these rallies to any other events that I’ve done before. I’ve also seen some pictures and videos from the events and there are no doubts that it will be exotic” he said.

With events in New Zealand, Australia, China, Malaysia, Japan and India, the Norwegian youngster needs to prepare himself for a lot of traveling this year.

“There will be big time differences compared to Norway and it is going to be a huge adjustment. With that in mind, I will travel in good time before the rallies to get used to it. I usually deal with it well. But at the same time I haven’t experienced such extreme time differences as between Norway and New Zealand for example. That can obviously become a challenge” he said.

Together with Indian Gaurav Gill, the main goal is to win the team championship for Skoda. Gill, who is the defending champion, is an experienced driver who has participated in the championship for many years and knows the rallies well.

“We will form a two-car-team. Gaurav Gill is one of the championship’s top drivers and will most likely fight for the overall victory. My task is primarily to complete the events and together we will make sure that Skoda wins the team championship” said Ole, who is also going to compete at selected WRC 2 rounds with a Skoda Fabia R5. This past weekend he finished fifth in Corsica and will also be on the start line in Sardinia, Finland, Spain and Wales.

For Even Management this marks another milestone in their development of new talents.

“I am exeptionally proud that our Norwegian management through Ole Christian Veiby’s contract with Skoda Motorsport has brought all our athletes to professional contracts as works drivers. This is a milestone for us. It all began with Andreas Mikkelsen’s first contract with Skoda UK in 2010. With Ole’s Skoda Motorsport conctract in 2017, we have developed four rally drivers and one rallycross driver who have all become factory drivers. There is a lot of hard work from everyone involved in Even Management behind this” said managing director Erik Veiby.

Skoda Motorsport can look back on great success in the APRC. They have won the championship every year since 2012 and well-known drivers like Jan Kopecký (champion in 2014) and Pontus Tidemand (winner in 2015) used the APRC to get important experience on the demanding gravel roads in Asia, Australia and New Zealand.

“Ole Christian Veiby has impressed us with his strong performances, not only at Rally Sweden. I’m really looking forward to see where Ole stands compared to experienced Gaurav Gill” said Michal Hrabánek, head of Skoda Motorsport.

2017 FIA Asia Pasific Rally Championship #FIAAPRC

April 28/30 – International Rally of Whangarei (New Zealand)
May 26/28 – International Rally of Queensland (Australia) CANCELLED
May 26/28 – National Capital Rally (Australia)
July 7/9 – China Rally (China)
August 11/13 – Malaysian Rally (Malaysia)
September 15/17 – Rally Hokkaido (Japan)
November 24/26 – Rally of India (India)


Neste Rally Finland Route 2017

March 23, 2017

Neste Rally Finland 2017 will once again bring world’s best rally gladiators to Finland and Jyväskylä in July, when the competition organised now for the 67th time takes place on 27 – 30 July. This is the first time the new-regulation more powerful World Rally Championship cars will be seen on the legendary gravel roads of Central Finland. Finnish drivers at the wheel of those WRC cars in Jyväskylä will definitely be at least this rock-hard trio: Jari-Matti Latvala and Juho Hänninen of Toyota Gazoo Racing and M-Sport’s Teemu Suninen.

Neste Rally Finland 2017 starts, in the now customary manner, with the Harju city special stage on Thursday night, 27 July, and ends with the Oittila Power Stage driven on Sunday 30 July in the afternoon. These are some of the similarities with last year’s route, as much is new in the route of Jyväskylä’s gravel circus compared to 2016. This year, the Neste Rally Finland route consists of 25 special stages and there will be a total of 316 special stage kilometres during four days of rallying. The total length of the route is 1 422 kilometres.

– As we all know very well, the amount of gravel roads in Central Finland is not increasing, and there are a great number of other things we must also take into consideration when planning the route. However, we do want to renew the route each year, so that the drivers, spectators and media can get more out of the rally. This year’s route is a compact package that features a wide selection of different types of Finnish rally roads, says Neste Rally Finland Assistant Clerk of the Course Kari Nuutinen, who is responsible for the rally route.

The Harju city special stage made a comeback in 2014 and has since then claimed its place in the hearts of rally fans, so it will rightfully get the honour of being the opening stage on Thursday night. After that, the route moves onto gravel, and for Friday the Neste Rally Finland route team has dug out of mothballs the old Jyväskylä classics of Urria, Laukaa and Lankamaa. Also, the traditional Jukojärvi stage has undergone a major revamp.

The route of Neste Rally Finland was approved already in January, but since then, post Rally Sweden, special attention has been paid to the special stage speeds. According to Nuutinen, it’s highly likely this will be seen also in Rally Finland.

– Safety is of course our number one priority, and now the situation has changed from what it was at the beginning of the year. We will be seeking the best possible solution, also sporting-wise, on this matter too.

No Sunday driving on Friday – 145 special stage kilometres on the longest day of Rally Finland

On Saturday, the changes on the route have been accomplished by changing the driving direction of “the Southern loop”, i.e. the Ouninpohja, Päijälä and Pihlajakoski stages. On Sunday, the route features the much-acclaimed pair of special stages from the eastern side of Lake Päijänne, i.e. Oittila-Lempää. Rally Finland will get a worthy ending in the picturesque Central Finnish scenery of Oittila.

– From the spectators’ point of view, Friday is truly a super day of rallying. The way the schedule is planned means that the special stages driven twice in the morning loop follow each other with a very tight schedule. There won’t be much time to kill between the passes, as the zero cars for the second pass will start off almost immediately after the first pass has been run through, Kari Nuutinen says.

Spectators will also have plenty of time after the second pass to get from the morning’s stages to the Laukaa and Äänekoski area for the afternoon/early evening special stages of “the Northern loop” – or to the second run of the Harju city special stage to enjoy some Friday night fever. Worth noting about this year’s route is the fact that Friday is the day with the most special stage kilometres, a total of 145.

Taking flight in legendary Jämsä on Saturday – Sunday culminates in the extra points from Oittila
On Saturday, rally fans will be treated to the fast special stages of the Jämsä region. Crucial actions that affect the outcome of the entire competition can be expected at the latest in Päijälä and Ouninpohja, the longest stages of the rally. Both stages with their hard-surfaced roads and fast-flowing crests and jumps provide the drivers and spectators with the most characteristic piece of Rally Finland. This year Ouninpohja, the crown jewel of the rally, will be driven from Hämepohja towards Kakaristo, so the Yellow house jump will send the cars flying far and it’ll be a high-speed entry into the Kakaristo fields. Also new for this year is the fact that the Pihlajakoski stage will be driven in this shape for the first time ever. Saturday’s route is complemented by the Saalahti stage familiar from last year. The total special stage length of Saturday’s double loop is 138 kilometres.

– I believe that Saturday will again this year be the decisive day in the competition. The stages are fantastic, high-speed roads of the southern part of Central Finland, and the stage times will vary greatly for sure. These stages also provide wonderful TV images of the nostalgic Rally Finland scenery. Spectators will get an added bonus on Saturday in the form of “Vetomies”, i.e. the Finnish national Group F competition, that is a good complement to the WRC classes.

Sunday, the final day of the rally, is route-wise the same as last year. Then too there were decisive moments, especially in Oittila, in both WRC and WRC2. Oittila and Lempää are driven twice, so on Sunday there will be a total of 34 special stage kilometres. And this year the stakes are even higher than before on the Power Stage, as there are even more extra points up for grabs.

– Last year we got a lot of positive feedback on Sunday’s route from the competitors and media as well as the spectators, so we decided to keep “the grand finale” intact. On Sunday, the road types create their own challenging package, and Oittila works very well as a Power Stage, from the televising point of view among other things.

Four glorious days, 25 fantastic special stages, new WRC cars and great rally atmosphere once again make up the most memorable sporting event of the year, bar none. You can’t experience this anywhere else – so see you in July in Central Finland, the Rally Kingdom!

Rally Guide 1



360 degree view of the spectator areas

Entry List – Rally Finland, historic photos – Rally Finland, historic sites – year by year

Tuesday 27 June at 18:00 (17:00 CET)

Closing date for entries

Friday 30 June 2017

Publication of Draft Entry List (Subject to FIA approval)

Thursday 27 July

8:00-13:30 Shakedown Ruuhimäki – 4,62 km (road closed at 05:00-14:00) Recce Onboard
12:30 Meet the Crews’, Service Park, Service Park Paviljonki
13:00 FIA Pre-event Press Conference, Media Centre
18:42 Start Paviljonki
19:00 SS 1 Harju 1 – 2,31 km (road closed at 10:00- 28th July 23:59) Recce Onboard

Competitive distance: 2,31 km (Liaison 6,17 km, Total 8,48 km)

Friday 28 July

6:05 Service A Paviljonki – 15 min
7:12 SS 2 Halinen 1 – 7,65 km (road closed at 04:30-13:30) Recce Onboard
7:45 SS 3 Urria – 12,75 km (road closed at 05:00-14:00) Recce Onboard / YLE Ralliradio Recce Onboard
8:48 SS 4 Jukojärvi 1 – 21,31 km (road closed at 05:45-15:00) Recce Onboard
10:06 SS 5 Halinen 2 – 7,65 km (road closed at 04:30-13:30) Recce Onboard
10:39 SS 6 Urria 2 – 12,75 km (road closed at 05:00-14:00) Recce Onboard / YLE Ralliradio Recce Onboard
11:42 SS 7 Jukojärvi 2 – 21,31 km (road closed at 05:45-15:00) Recce Onboard
13:37 Service B Paviljonki – 30 min
15:00 SS 8 Äänekoski-Valtra 1 – 7,39 km (road closed at 11:45-21:30) Recce Onboard
16:13 SS 9 Laukaa 1 – 11,76 km (road closed at 13:00-22:30) Recce OnboardYLE Ralliradio Recce Onboard
17:11 SS 10 Lankamaa – 21,68 km (road closed at 14:00-20:30) Recce OnboardYLE Ralliradio Recce Onboard
18:09 SS 11 Äänekoski-Valtra 2 – 7,39 km (road closed at 11:45-21:30) Recce Onboard
19:22 SS 12 Laukaa 2 – 11,76 km (road closed at 13:00-22:30) Recce OnboardYLE Ralliradio Recce Onboard
20:30 SS 13 Harju 2 – 2,31 km / Vetomies 1st car 18:30Recce Onboard
21:00 Service C Paviljonki – 45 min

Competitive distance: 145,71 km (Liaison 495,32 km, Total 641,03 km)

Saturday 29 July

7:20 Service D Paviljonki – 15 min
8:58 SS 14 Pihlajakoski 1 – 14,90 km (road closed at 06:00-20:30) / Vetomies 1st car 11:08 / Recce Onboard
10:06 SS 15 Päijälä 1 – 22,68 km (road closed at 07:00-21:45) / Vetomies 1st car 12:31Recce Onboard
10:49 SS 16 Ouninpohja 1 – 24,38 km (road closed at 07:45-19:30) / Vetomies 1st car 13:14Recce Onboard
12:02 SS 17 Saalahti   1 – 4,21 km (road closed at 09:15-18:30) Recce Onboard
13:27 Service E Paviljonki – 30 min
14:55 SS 18 Saalahti 2 – 4,21 km (road closed at 09:15-18:30) Recce Onboard
16:08 SS 19 Ouninpohja 2 – 24,38 km (road closed at 07:45-19:30) Recce Onboard
17:16 SS 20 Pihlajakoski 2 – 14,90 km (road closed at 06:00-20:30) / Vetomies 1st car 15:04Recce Onboard
18:24 SS 21 Päijälä 2 – 22,68 km (road closed at 07:00-21:45) / Vetomies 1st car 16:12Recce Onboard
19:00 Podium Paviljonki (Vetomies-competition)
20:39 Service F Paviljonki – 45 min

Competitive distance: 132,34 km (Liaison 441,21 km, Total 573,55 km)

Sunday 30 July

8:00 Service G Paviljonki – 15 min
9:25 SS 22 Lempää 1 – 6,80 km (road closed at 06:30-15:00) Recce Onboard
10:08 SS 23 Oittila 1 – 10,12 km (road closed at 07:15-16:45) Recce Onboard
11:47 SS 24 Lempää 2 – 6,80 km (road closed at 06:30-15:00) Recce Onboard
13:18 SS 25 Oittila 2 (Power Stage) – 10,12 km (road closed at 07:15-16:45) Recce Onboard
14:21 Service Paviljonki – 10 min
15:00 Podium Paviljonki
15:45 FIA Press Conference, Media Centre

Competitive distance: 33,84 km (Liaison 169,06 km, Total 202,90 km)

all times local

Rally total:
25 special stages
Special Stages total: 314,20 km (22,0 %) = the percentage of the total distance of special stages
Liaison 1111,76 km
Route total: 1425,96 km


6 special stages
Special Stages total: 101,85 km
Liaison 306,93 km
Route total: 408,78 km


Full season in Asia-Pacific Rally Championship for MPart Mitsubishis

March 16, 2017

Swedish constructor of the rally-developed Mitsubishi Mirage/Space Star, MPart AB, is pleased to announce that two of its cars will contest a full season in the FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship. One will be driven by Finnish ace Jari Ketomaa, the other by British National Cup Champion Robert Blomberg from Sweden.


Following the car’s highly successful debut in the APRC, when Ketomaa finished an impressive second overall in October’s Malaysian Rally, the Mirage proved it was ideally suited to the tough and varied demands that are encountered in this long standing and highly regarded championship.

For MPart, the added appeal of contesting the APRC’s six rounds in Australasia, India and the Far East, is the acceptance by championship officials that the Mitsubishi is eligible to battle for overall positions and championship points alongside homologated R5, R4 and NR4 cars in Class AP4, as MPart boss Tomas Weng explains:

“The Asia Pacific Rally Championship provides a great showcase for our Mitsubishi, as it is given parity against cars of the same specification that it wouldn’t otherwise have in the WRC, ERC and some domestic rally championships. Therefore, it is of great interest to us to be able to compete on a level playing field against other cars of similar specification and therefore challenge for overall positions and the championship title.

“Another major attraction of the APRC is in light of our result in Malaysia last year. It confirmed the car is competitive and, if we can repeat the same performance in other events, then I’m confident we will be able to score even more podium results.”

Whilst he admits that last year’s Malaysian event was tough, Ketomaa, is excited about the challenge of contesting a whole season in the APRC:

“In all my years of competing, I have never driven a tougher event than last year’s Malaysian Rally. To get through it and finish second was a fantastic achievement for all of us as a team and testimony to the durability and performance of the car.

“I am extremely motivated about the Asia-Pacific Championship. I would really like to win it – and I think as a team we can win it. It’s a very high profile championship and to add an FIA title to my CV would be fantastic.”

Ketomaa added that competing in this championship sends out an important message for MPart and its cars:

“Tomas and his team have a set up in Sweden that is worthy of any manufacturer-backed operation. Therefore, competing in the APRC can establish the company as a major player in the motorsport industry and is another step towards other high profile global campaigns in the future.”

Blomberg, with his co-driver Lars Andersson, will run the same Mirage that they used with great success in the UK in 2016:

“Competing in the UK last year was a completely new experience for me. Now I’ve done that, been there, it’s time for something else and, when Tomas said he was considering a season in the Asia-Pacific Championship, I thought well, why not! I enjoy new challenges and, having spent some time working in the some of the countries where the APRC takes place, rallying over there was already on my bucket list.

“The Mitsubishi has proved it can be competitive in the region, so I hope I can help Tomas to promote the cars there and, together with Jari, we will try our best to win the constructor title for the team.”

The two Mpart Mitsubishis have now left Sweden and are currently on a six-week journey to New Zealand for the first round of the APRC, the Rally Whangarei that takes place on the East Coast of the North Island at the end of April.

2017 Asia-Pacific Rally Championship calendar:

April 28/30 – International Rally of Whangarei (New Zealand)
May 26/28 – International Rally of Queensland (Australia) CANCELLED
May 26/28 – National Capital Rally (Australia)
July 7/9 – China Rally (China)
August 11/13 – Malaysian Rally (Malaysia)
September 15/17 – Rally Hokkaido (Japan)
November 24/26 – Rally of India (India)


DMACK Trophy Winners Tackle WRC 2 Prize Drive Events

March 15, 2017

Three drivers from the 2016 Drive DMACK Fiesta Trophy will take up their prize drives and tackle rounds of the FIA World Rally Championship WRC 2 series this year.

The one-make DMACK championship offered the biggest prize in world rallying for three years and has now effectively become the Junior WRC for 2017.

Overall winners from 2016, Welshmen Osian Pryce and Dale Furniss, will compete in Poland and Finland at the wheel of the M-Sport-run Ford Fiesta R5.

Finnish star and runner-up Max Vatanen will be first to sample the action when he starts Rally Portugal. He will also tackle his home round of the WRC in Finland – an event he won during last year’s DMACK Fiesta Trophy.

Finally Northern-Irish star Jon Armstrong will drive in Germany and Spain – hoping his Tarmac experience will help him secure a solid result.

The bonus seventh round at Wales Rally GB will go to the driver who scores the most points in WRC 2 across their pair of events, so there won’t be any cruising for the three stars as they step-up to four-wheel-drive.

The talented trio will all benefit from DMACK’s new 2017 range of tyres for WRC, which have already scored six stage victories on both gravel and asphalt this season.

Osian Pryce said: “It’s fantastic to have confirmation that we’re competing in Poland and Finland with the DMACK Fiesta R5 this year. Those events were the ones I really targeted and wanted to go for. I want to thank both DMACK and M-Sport for what’s coming this season. All too often you hear drivers complaining that there aren’t enough doors opening in this sport – we gave one door a bit of a push last year and it’s opened really nicely for us.”

Max Vatanen said: “I’m really looking forward to taking up the prize drive. It’s the right step in my career and it’s up to me to make the most out of it with the great combination of DMACK tyres and M-Sport’s Fiesta R5. Winning my class on my home soil of Finland last year is the highlight of my rallying. Having the opportunity to do it in WRC 2 this year is a dream come true.”

Jon Armstrong said: “I’m very excited to take control of the DMACK Fiesta R5 in Germany and Spain this year. We showed great speed on both events last season, so we are confident of setting some competitive times and getting good results. It’s a dream come true to drive in WRC 2, I want to thank DMACK and will aim to make the most of the opportunity I’ve been handed.”