Citroen Ford Hyundai Volkswagen WRC

2014 Rally Germany in pictures

2014 WRC Rally Germany

WRC cars in aggressive tarmac trim, the stunning beauty of the Moselle Valley, as far as world class rallying goes, it doesn’t get much better than this.

So strap yourself in and enjoy reliving Thierry Neuville’s maiden WRC victory. There’s some awesome photos in our latest rally installment; we hope you’ll like them.

Citroen Ford Hyundai Volkswagen WRC

2014 Rally Finland in pictures

2014 WRC Rally Finland

It seems to be the year of winning your home event. Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg won their home grands prix in Formula 1. Now it’s Jari-Matti Latvala’s turn and he got to spray the champagne first after he won Rally Finland.

Sebastien Ogier will be hoping he can do the same when Rally France rolls around in October. He might just need to as well. Ogier is still very much the man to catch, with a 44 point lead over Latvala, but there’s still five rallies up for grabs.

After the break there’s over 70 images from the Finnish forests and, of course, plenty of spectacular “yumps”!

Citroen Ford Hyundai Volkswagen WRC

2014 Rally Poland in pictures

2014 WRC Rally Poland

While it’s true we have missed out on regular WRC updates you haven’t missed out on anything you couldn’t have guessed for yourself. And that’s Sebastien Ogier has won another rally and is well on the way to his second world championship.

Also happy with his time in Poland was junior Volkswagen driver Andreas Mikkelesen who achieved his best WRC result to date. It was good to see Thierry Nueville at the somewhat pointy end, too. Let’s hope Hyundai can figure more prominently in the second half of the season.

Ogier leads Jari-Matti Latvala by 50 points in the title race. And if you were in any doubt about Volkswagen’s current WRC dominance then consider that Latvala, only in second in the championship, has enough points on his own to lead the manufacturers’ standings.

So now you’re up to speed on where the WRC is at and we promise you won’t have to wait over a month for a Rally Finland update!

2014 WRC Rally Poland

  1. Sebastien Ogier Volkswagen Polo R WRC – 2:34:02.00
  2. Andreas Mikkelsen Volkswagen Polo R WRC – +1:07.7
  3. Thierry Neuville Hyundai i20 WRC – +2:13.5
Citroen Ford Hyundai Volkswagen WRC

2014 Rally Italia in pictures

2014 WRC Rally Italia

You may have noticed our WRC coverage has dropped off the radar for a bit, well in a mad panic before this weekend’s Rally Finland we’re going to bring you back up to speed. First, let’s take a look at Rally Italia, where we have assembled over 75 images from the four major teams for you to enjoy.

Sebastien Ogier won in Italy, extending his championship lead to 33 points over his Volkswagen teammate Jari-Matti Latvala. You may also recall this was the rally where Mikko Hirvonen’s backside got a bit hot.

2014 WRC Rally Italia

  1. Sebastien Ogier Volkswagen Polo R WRC – 4:02:37.8
  2. Mads Ostberg Citroën DS3 WRC – +1:23.1
  3. Jari-Matti Latvala Volkswagen Polo R WRC – +1:32.8
Citroen Ford Hyundai Volkswagen WRC

Jari-Matti Latvala wins 2014 Rally Argentina

2014 WRC Rally Argentina

It’s another belated WRC update, but this time we just wanted to make sure the rest of the field had crossed the line, such was the dominance shown by Jari-Matti Latvala en route to his second win for 2014.

Latvala enjoyed a trouble-free event and finished almost 90 seconds ahead of Sebastien Ogier. But even that doesn’t tell the full story as Ogier had put the cue in the rack around half way through the rally, figuring a secure and safe second place was better than risking a DNF in the chase for victory.

After Mads Ostberg crashed early on Day 1 Citroën’s charge was left to Kris Meeke. This would have given the team cause for concern following Meeke’s big crash in Portugal. However, the Northern Irishman delivered a solid drive and was very relieved to finish on the podium.

Andreas Mikkelsen finished fourth for Volkswagen and but for a slipped alternator belt on the opening day he would have likely given Volkswagen a clean sweep of the podium. In the end he did well to fight back from a five minute time penalty to keep Meeke on his toes.

Hyundai will be pleased with Thierry Neuville’s fifth place, bringing home some valuable points and more experience for his team.

Robert Kubica finished the rally! Even better for the former F1 star, he was the best placed Ford driver and came home in sixth place. The conditions in Argentina were treacherous at times, thanks to heavy rain in the lead up to the event, so it was no mean feat for any of the drivers, let alone the inexperienced Kubica, to get through the rally unscathed.

Ogier maintains a healthy lead in the drivers’ championship, ahead of Latvala. Mikkelsen and Ostberg are currently tied for third place. Similarly, with five wins from five events, Volkswagen has streaked away to a massive lead in the constructors’ race. The team already has more than twice the points of its nearest challenger, Citroën, with M Sport (Ford) further behind.

Latvala’s win and Ogier’s cautious approach breathes new life into the 2014 championship with the first genuine signs that Ogier’s drivers’ title is up for grabs.

Citroen Ford Hyundai Volkswagen WRC

Sebastien Ogier wins 2014 Rally Portugal

2014 WRC Rally Portugal

Okay, so this update is bringing you news that’s a week old, but you get that from time to time with a blog that’s an unpaid labour of love rather than a full time gig.

You’ve seen already, too, that Sebastien Ogier won Rally Portugal. It’s Volkswagen’s fourth win from four rallies in 2014. Coupled with a string of four victories to close out last season they have equalled the best ever run of eight consecutive WRC victories alongside Citroën. That’s a fair effort for Volkswagen and the Polo R WRC, in just their second year of competition.

Ogier had to fight early in the rally to overcome Dani Sordo and Mikko Hirvonen, both men holding the rally lead before Ogier restored the rightful order. For Sordo he became the first Hyundai driver to lead a WRC event. He was unable to maintain his grip for long but was looking secure for a fourth placed finish until a broken driveshaft ended his event, although he impressed team bosses enough to earn himself an extra drive for the next rally.

Mikko Hirvonen proved there’s still life in him and the Ford Fiesta RS WRC by holding for second, ahead of Mads Ostberg who reminded us that Citroën is still capable of mixing it at the front as well.

Andreas Mikkelsen finished fourth for Volkswagen, managing to get himself ahead of privateer Henning Solberg late in the rally.

For the first time Hyundai ran three cars in a rally and Thierry Neuville and Juho Hanninen came home in seventh and eighth places respectively. They team is showing good pace but is still gaining valuable experience and you sense their challenge will begin in earnest in 2015.

You can’t have a WRC without some spectacular accidents and the honour, or should that be the shame, of the best crash was a fight between young M-Sport driver Elfyn Evans and Volkswagen’s Jarri-Matti Latvala. Both crews were unhurt and Latvala even managed to earn himself a couple of points in the power stage on the final day.

Oh, yes, of course, Robert Kubica crashed out again. In 11 days of racing this year he has crashed out in 10.

Volkswagen and Ogier are again establishing themselves at the top of their respective championship tables and both will be hoping they can set a new mark of nine rally wins on end when they tackle Rally Argentina next month.

Until then check out our 2014 Rally Portugal photo gallery and official team videos after the break.

Citroen Ford Hyundai Volkswagen WRC

Jari-Matti Latvala wins 2014 Rally Sweden

2014 WRC Rally Sweden

Jari-Matti Latvala took a peek around the shadow of Sebastien Ogier by winning Rally Sweden on the weekend. It was a dominant result for Volkswagen with rising star Andreas Mikkelsen claiming second and his first WRC podium result.

Defending Rally Sweden winner Ogier gave Volkswagen cause to hope for a clean sweep of the podium when he led the rally in its early stages. An uncharacteristic and simple mistake saw the world champion run wide on a corner into a soft snow bank. No damage was done to him or the car, but his victory chances were shot after taking four and half minutes to get back on course. The best he could manage was a climb back to sixth position.

Mads Ostberg was happy to pick up Ogier’s slack and did so by coming home in third, his first podium result for Citroën. The Norwegian stepped up to take maximum points in the power stage as well.

In fourth place was Mikko Hirvonen who was almost on the pace but not quite in the Fiesta RS WRC. He’ll be happy to lock away some good championship points. Something his teammate Elfyn Evans wasn’t able to do. The Welshman’s inexperience showed in Sweden, although he was heading for a top 10 finish until a late off pushed him out of points contention.

Kris Meeke, who did so well in the very difficult conditions in Monte Carlo, was one of many drivers to succumb to Sweden’s snow banks and he finished in P10, more than 11 minutes behind Latvala.

The raw pace of Robert Kubica can’t be denied, but his propensity to find trouble where others don’t must be starting to become a concern. It’s true that conditions found in Sweden are never likely to be his favourite, but he had a tough time all the same and finished a lowly 24th more than 36 minutes off the pace.

And then we get to Hyundai who endured another trying weekend. Thierry Neuville was joined by Juho Hanninen for driving duties at this event and both were putting in respectable performances running comfortably in the top 10. On Day 2 both drivers clipped rocks on the apex of a corner which put them out of contention for the day. Neither driver was out of shape prior to their respective incidents, it was just bad luck for both.

The Hyundais resumed under Rally 2 conditions on the final day and were able to chalk up some good experience. Hanninen’s 36m leap was enough to win the prize for the Colin’s Crest longest jump. Ogier managed a record 41m jump later in the day, but it wasn’t eligible for the prize as it wasn’t on his first run.

Latvala now leads the championship from Ogier and Ostberg. It was at this event in 2013 that Ogier took the lead in the world championship and he hadn’t relinquished the top position until now.

Rally Mexico is the next rally on the calendar, taking place in early March. Chris Atkinson will get his turn in the Hyundai i20 WRC and will be hoping he has more luck than his teammates have experienced so far in 2014.

More after the break.

Citroen Ford Hyundai Volkswagen WRC

Sebastien Ogier wins 2014 Rallye Monte Carlo

2014 Rallye Monte Carlo

Sebastien Ogier overcame a poor tyre choice on Day 1 to fight back and win the Rallye Monte Carlo in style, getting his world championship defence off to a near perfect start.

To rack up his first Monte win Ogier had to reel in an impressive Bryan Bouffier in his first outing at the wheel of a privately entered Ford Fiesta RS WRC. Bouffier’s name may be familiar to you, he was one of the test drivers who helped develop the Hyundai i20 WRC, so his second place result will be extra sweet after missing out on official driving duties with the Korean team this year.

Conditions during the rally were extreme and presented the drivers with all kinds of hazards, from ice, “shiny” wet patches on slippery tarmac, heavy rain and a snow storm just to top things off.

Kris Meeke took a big step in repaying Citroën’s faith and was delighted to overcome those difficulties unscathed on his way to satisfying third place. He leaves Monte Carlo with increased confidence, acknowledging he has no issue with raw pace, but has in the past made too many silly errors.

Robert Kubica may need to take a few notes from Meeke. The former F1 star was sure fast enough during the rally and was easily mixing it with the established WRC front runners. Yet, he still found his way off course and crashed into a bridge in a manner perhaps only Robert could. Thankfully the impact was at relatively low speed and he was in no real danger of any injury.

Jari-Matti Latvala finds himself in Ogier’s shadow once again, although he lost a bit of time on Day 2 with an annoying puncture. Latvala did register a small win over his teammate when he beat him to first place in the Power Stage by 0.2 seconds. Judging by the look on Ogier’s face immediately afterwards the world of motorsport has another Seb who doesn’t like losing one little bit!

Of course, Hyundai’s return to the WRC spotlight didn’t quite go to plan and they’ll be hoping for more in Sweden next month.

After the break there’s Volkswagen’s official word along with pictures and videos from the leading WRC teams.

Citroen WRC

Meeke and Ostberg signed by Citroën for 2014

Citroen DS3 WRC, 2013 Rally Australia

Citroën Racing announced its 2014 WRC driver lineup overnight and it’s big news, with Mikko Hirvonen shown the door from the French team. With the retirement of Sebastien Loeb behind them Citroën will return with two full-time drivers next year: 34-year-old Northern Irishman Kris Meeke will race alongside 26-year-old Norwegian Mads Ostberg.

It’s big show of faith for Meeke and co-driver Paul Nagle. Meeke’s last appearance for Citroën was at Rally Australia and things didn’t end well after he crashed out twice during the event.

“It’s an incredible opportunity,” Meeke enthused. “I’ve always been close to Citroën over the last few years. I’m really lucky to be able to work with a team that has so much experience and so many titles.”

“I have only competed in ten World Championship rallies in a WRC,” the former MINI driver added. “I think I’ve got some potential, but I still need to get some experience under my belt. The Citroën DS3 WRC is a terrific car and I’m going to be able to use the team’s knowledge to help me improve. I know that I’ll have to be patient in the first half of the season and learn all about the rallies that I haven’t done before.”

With 65 WRC events, and one victory, under his belt Ostberg is ready for the challenge ahead and brings with him a focus for success.

“I’m joining Citroën Racing to get some good results and to try and win some rallies,” the former Ford driver said. “I’ve always shown that I could be quick. I know that the standard in the World Rally Championship is exceptionally high, but I want to be competitive!”

As in 2013, Abu Dhabi driver Khalid Al Qassimi will drive in selected WRC events, which include Sweden, Portugal, Italy and Spain. He will also concentrate on taking part in the entire Middle East rally Championship.

The futures of Hirvonen, Dani Sordo and Robert Kubica remain uncertain. You’d expect Hirvonen to be considered by M-Sport. Meanwhile, the high of winning his first rally this year may be short lived for tarmac specialist Sordo. Kubica has previously said he will only race in the WRC next year if he can secure a full-time drive; his opportunities are fast running out.

Citroen WRC

VIDEO: Robert Kubica crashes out of Wales Rally GB

Robert Kubica, Citroen DS3 WRC, Wales Rally GB

Robert Kubica’s debut in a WRC car hasn’t gone to plan, being forced to retire from the event after crashing out twice.

The new WRC2 champion was on the back foot from the start of the event after his co-driver, Maciek Baran, retired prior to Wales Rally GB. Kubica and Citroën drafted in Michele Ferrara to join the Pole, which brought with it the added difficulty of having his notes read to him in Italian.

It’s not really surprising to learn that misunderstandings with pace notes have been blamed for Kubica’s two accidents. In the first accident, on Friday morning (see video below), Robert’s car suffered only minor damage and he was able to re-start the rally from 36th place on Saturday morning. Unfortunately, on SS11 Kubica went off again and was forced to retire.

It’s been an awful weekend for Citroën with Mikko Hirvonen also crashing out of the event after suffering heavy impact into a muddy bank on Day 1. The crash was blamed on an error from his co-driver Jarmo Lehtinen and the resulting blow left the interior of the DS3 WRC and both crew covered in mud.

Dani Sordo is the sole remaining driver for Citroën with one day left to run in the rally. Sadly for Dani his rally was compromised from the start after being given a five minute penalty for the team using its ninth chassis for the year.

You won’t be surprised to learn that Sebastien Ogier and Jari-Matti Latvala are fighting for the win in their Volkswagen Polo R WRCs. We’ll bring you a full update after the rally is over.

Citroen Ford Volkswagen WRC

Sebastien Ogier wins 2013 Rally de Espana

2013 Rallye de Espana

Sebastien Ogier’s good fortune has continued after he fought back to win Rally de Espana on the weekend. Jari-Matti Latvala’s second place ensured Volkswagen secured the manufacturers’ championship in style, too, registering the team’s first one-two finish.

Rally de Espana is a diverse event covering tarmac and gravel with the extra dimension of night stages. The severe dust during the gravel stages made things very tricky for the drivers.

Ogier started in his usual fashion, building a lead over his rivals. However, he suffered a puncture cutting a corner a little too aggressively and dropped down to fourth place. Latvala and Dani Sordo, in his home event, assumed the battle for the lead.

Sadly, both endured bad luck which put both men out of contention. Latvala’s car had a leaking fuel line on the final day which caused a small fire and scuppered any hopes of Volkswagen duel to the finish line. Alas, Sordo’s misfortune was worse, hitting a small rock which wrecked his suspension and forced him into retirement on the final day while a podium position was his for the taking.

In the difficult gravel stages Ogier was superb fighting his way back from a deficit of over 40 seconds. He put on a rallying masterclass, made his own luck and took the win by over 30 seconds in the end.

Earlier this year Sebastien Ogier raced in the Porsche Supercup at the Monaco Grand Prix, where he became friends with Sean Edwards. After the rally Ogier dedicated his win to Edwards and his family.

It’s been a magical debut season for Volkswagen in 2013 and with just Rally Wales GB in mid-November left on the calendar they’ll be hoping they can finish the season with another victory.

A special note for Robert Kubica, too, who won the WRC2 championship with his class victory in Spain. We’ll have more on that later.

Citroen WRC

Robert Kubica earns WRC drive in Wales Rally GB

2013 Rallye de France-Alsace

Former F1 driver Robert Kubica is on track to win the WRC2 world championship. Driving a Citroën DS3 RRC he’s won for of the six events he’s entered this year and needs only a second place finish in the Rally RACC Catalunya to secure the title.

Unsurprisingly, his excellent results have not gone unnoticed, and with the goodwill of Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi and the blessing of the Citröen World Rally Team, Robert will drive a DS3 WRC at the season-ending Wales Rally GB in mid-November.

Kubica and co-driver Maciek Baran, will drive Khalid Al Qassimi’s car who will stand aside from the event to make provide the opportunity.

“This one-off outing for the works team is a great opportunity for me, but it’s also a huge challenge,” revealed Robert. “Wales Rally GB wasn’t part of my original programme, so I’m very happy to be able to have this precious experience. I would like to take this opportunity to thank my partners, and especially the Lotos Group and Citroën Racing for having made this possible.”

Earlier this year Robert said his sights were firmly set on securing a return to Formula 1, we wonder if the promise of a full-time WRC drive, were it to be offered, would make him reconsider his career ambitions?