Kris Meeke scored a solid victory for the Abu Dhabi Total WRT Citroen team by a margin of 29.7 seconds on the Rally of Portugal when he returned to compete in one of the few rounds selected for the Northern Irishman's limited 2016 World Rally Championship campaign.
Meeke led the way from Friday morning's second stage to the finish and is the first Briton to win in Portugal since Richard Burn's win in 2000. Meeke took full advantage of the running order on Friday, benefiting from others sweeping the road for him and consolidated his lead on Sunday's stages to secure his win ahead of Andreas Mikkelsen, who overcame current world champion Sebastien Ogier for second despite the Frenchman having been Meeke's main rival for most of the weekend.
However, Ogier was never a serious challenger for victory and battled with Volkswagen team-mate Mikkelsen and Hyundai's Dani Sordo for second throughout. Sordo was unable to show the same level of pace and fell away from the battle to take fourth behind Ogier at rally's end. Eric Camilli was fifth, with Rally Portugal's attrition aiding his success and Camilli's M-Sport team-mate Mads Ostberg fell away from the top five after damaging his car and running in front wheel drive for most of Saturday.
Jari-Matti Latvala recovered into sixth overall ahead of Ostberg, but the Finn had to bounce back from broken power steering earlier in the rally but the most dramatic retirement befell Rally Argentina winner Hayden Paddon who rolled on SS5, before his i20 WRC caught fire spectacularly and burnt out within five minutes. Both Paddon and co-driver Jonathan Kennard escaped without injury.
Team-mate Thierry Neuville got on the pace after a sluggish start, only to run out of fuel on Saturday's morning loop. Meeke's team-mate Stephane Lefebvre was on course for the top six before retiring when he hit a rock. Martin Prokop finished eighth, ahead of WRC2 winner Pontus Tidemand who won by an impressive margin of 1m28.8s, recovering from a puncture on Saturday afternoon that briefly allowed Nicholas Fuchs the class lead.
Final Results after SS19:
Pos ... Driver ... Team ... Car ... Gap
1. Kris Meeke/P.Nagle Abu Dhabi Total WRT Citroen 3h59m01.0s
2. Andreas Mikkelsen/A.J.Synnevaag Volkswagen Polo 29.7s
3. Sebastien Ogier/J.Ingrassia Volkswagen Polo 34.5s
4. Dani Sordo/M.Marti Hyundai Motorsport Hyundai 1m37.1s
5. Eric Camilli/B.Veillas M-Sport World Rally Team Ford 4m01.6s
6. Jari-Matti Latvala/M.Anttila Volkswagen Polo4m06.9s
7. Mads Ostberg/O.Floene M-Sport World Rally Team Ford 6m53.6s
8. Martin Prokop/J.Tomanek Jipocar Czech Team Ford 10m24.1s
9. Pontus Tidemand/J.Andersson Skoda Motorsport Skoda 11m45.2s
10. Nicolas Fuchs/F.Mussano Skoda 13m14.0s
23rd May, 2016
Fredrik Ahlin and Morten Erik Abrahamsen driving for local team CA1 Sport, made it three different winners from the opening three rounds of this year's MSA British Rally Championship with victory on this weekend's Pirelli Carlisle Rally. The 24-year-old in his Pirelli-shod Ford Fiesta R5 became the first Swedish driver since 1995 to win a round of Britain's premier rallying series. Along with the win, Ahlin played his 'Joker' which doubled his points allowing him to overtake rival Elfyn Evans at the top of points standings. He now holds a five-point advantage after the Cumbrian event.
Local driver Matthew Wilson returned to the series to take second overall while Evans, who initially led the event, suffered a puncture on the opening day plummeting him down the leaderboard. The World Championship star, though, fought his way back up the order to make it three Ford Fiesta R5s in the top three, ensuring three tyre manufacturers - Pirelli, Michelin and DMACK - all shared the podium spoils.
In the DMACK Junior British Rally Championship it was to be a close fought battle between three drivers in three different car marques. Sindre Furuseth in his Renault Twingo R2 returned to the series after missing the Circuit of Ireland and the Norwegian led initially but suffered a puncture on the first day. Stopping to change it, he lost too much time to be in the podium tussle, with fifth
Pos .... Driver .... Time
1 Fredrik Ahlin 1:05:15.6
2 Matthew Wilson 1:05:43.2
3 Elfyn Evans 1:05:46.7
4 Tom Cave 1:06:08.8
5 Martin McCormack 1:06:39.0
6 Jonathan Greer 1:07:10.2
7 Desi Henry 1:08:32.6
8 Neil Simpson 1:08:36.3
9 Jamie Anderson 1:08:48.2
10 Max Vatanen 1:09:02.8
1st May, 2016
Competitors travel to Cumbria this weekend for the Pirelli Carlisle Rally, the third round of the 2016 MSA British Rally Championship (30 April/1 May) Britain's premier rallying series which sees 47 crews returning to the loose to grapple with the gravel as they take in 2 days and 74 stage miles on the high-speed and infamous Kielder Forest.
The opening two rounds have seen two different winners take the spoils, with World Championship star Elfyn Evans taking the laurels on the Mid Wales Stages and the highly talented Josh Moffett claiming the top spot on the legendary Circuit of Ireland last time out. The Circuit was a part of the BRC for the first time since 1991 and it certainly lived up to its iconic status. The event was a battle of attrition on the testing Tarmac, with the lead changing hands countless times before the cars reached the Ceremonial Finish in Belfast city centre.
Leading the crews away into the event from the Pirelli tyre factory will be BRC Championship leader Evans in his DMACK-backed Ford Fiesta R5 followed by Sweden's Fredrik Ahlin, Pirelli-backed Ahlin pushed Evans all the way on the opening round in Mid Wales together with his CA1 Sport team-mate David Bogie, boosted by his recent podium success last time out as he looks to fight at the front of the pack once again in his Skoda Fabia R5. It is the home round for CA1 Sport and they will be fielding two further cars for Alex Laffey (Fiesta R5) and new recruit Tom Preston (Fabia R5), who will look to gain vital experience on the gruelling stages that lie ahead.
Making a return to the BRC is local hero and former M Sport WRC driver Matthew Wilson. The former BRC event winner has not competed since Wales Rally GB in 2014 and he'll hope his local knowledge will make up for a lack of recent competitive mileage. In front of Wilson on the road will be the leading Michelin runner, Welshman Tom Cave in his Fiesta R5 who'll certainly be a front-runner once again.
The Pirelli Carlisle Rally will see crews return to the gravel of Kielder Forest. And as well as a fight between the drivers, there will be a big battle for supremacy between the tyre manufacturers. DMACK, Kumho and Michelin will all want to win on Pirelli?s home patch and all four firms will give all they can to get their cars across the line first. The pace is going to be fast and furious throughout the field and the weekend is going to be just as unpredictable and will add yet another exciting chapter to this rollercoaster of a season.
The new-look BRC takes in seven events across the British Isles as it tours England, Ireland, Wales and Scotland before culminating on the iconic lanes of the Isle of Man. Asphalt special stages and gravel tests will see the country's best drivers in the best cars fight for overall supremacy on the best events, while the action will feature throughout the year on Channel 4 and BT Sport.
The final event will count for double points, while each driver has one 'Joker' to play on one of the first six rounds. Selected a week before each round, a 'Joker' can only be played once and will enable a driver to double the points scored on that nominated event.
Follow BRC developments by visiting:- www.msabrc.com
28th April, 2016
Hayden Paddon steered his Hyundai to his first World Rally Championship win on Rally Argentina after seeing off a late challenge from reigning champion Sebastien Ogier, who'd closed to within 2.6 seconds of Paddon's lead ahead of the final power stage, with the Volkswagen driver closing in following a storming drive through SS17, Mina Clavero-Guilio Cesare, 19s quicker than Paddon. But the Hyundai driver then took the power stage win by 11.2s to secure his maiden win, beating Ogier by 14.3s overall.
Jari-Matti Latvala initially led, the Finn holding a 14.5s lead on Saturday afternoon's SS14 before crashing out, handing Paddon the lead and promoting his Volkwagen team mate Andreas Mikkelsen to third overall and consistently quicker than rival Dani Sordo, culminating in a stage win on Saturday and ensuring his best ever result in Argentina.
Sordo had held the joint Thursday night lead, after tying the opening superspecial with Ogier on the streets of Cordoba, but would finish fourth overall with Mads Ostberg fifth after driving a conservative rally on what is considered one of the roughest events on the calendar. Thierry Neuville began the weekend admitting to a lack of confidence and battling an electrical issue before climbing through the order to sixth.
Behind him, Marcos Sebastian Ligato returned to the WRC for his home event and finished a highly impressive seventh, beating Henning Solberg to the position. Eric Camilli came into the event under pressure from M-Sport to finish the rally. He did exactly that, but rarely showed strong pace, finishing ninth. Latvala's Rally2 return and later power stage crash meant that WRC2 class winner Nicholas Fuchs finished tenth overall after Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari, who'd led the class for most of Saturday rolled on the afternoon loop. Welshman Elfyn Evans retired on Friday and fell out of contention, but he returned to win six stages across the last two days.
Pos .... Driver .... Team .... Car .... Gap
1 Hayden Paddon Hyundai Motorsport N Hyundai 3h40m52.9s
2 Sebastien Ogier Volkswagen Motorsport Volkswagen 14.3s
3 Andreas Mikkelsen Volkswagen Motorsport II Volkswagen 1m05.2s
4 Dani Sordo Hyundai Motorsport Hyundai 1m17.1s
5 Mads Ostberg M-Sport World Rally Team Ford 4m56.7s
6 Thierry Neuville Hyundai Motorsport Hyundai 9m29.5s
7 Marcos Ligato Citroen 9m39.2s
8 Eric Camilli M-Sport World Rally Team Ford 10m16.0s
9 Henning Solberg Ford 10m48.5s
10 Nicolas Fuchs Skoda 24m42.8s
24th April, 2016