With one round of the revitalised 2016 British Rally Championship still to run, Elfyn Evans and co-driver Craig Parry have won 2016 MSA British Rally Championship title by scoring victory on last weekend's John Mulholland Motors Ulster Rally. The DMACK British Rally Team crew made it four wins from six events in Britain's premier rallying championship in their Ford Fiesta R5.
Ulsterman Jonathan Greer, in a Citroen DS3 R5, claimed second, whilst Scottish driver David Bogie took the final step on the podium in his Skoda Fabia R5 on the legendary Ulster Rally which took competitors on 48.62 competitive miles on the first day and 85.24 miles on the second, totalling 133.86 miles through the daunting lanes of Northern Ireland. Heavy rain on both days made the tarmac greasy, creating difficult tyre choices for the crews.
The Ulster Rally also marked a special anniversary as Elfyn's success comes twenty years on since father Gwyndaf won the same title on the Ulster Rally back in 1996. Elfyn becomes the 38th different name on the BRC trophy after a dominant season, picking up four wins along with a third place on the Pirelli Carlisle - the Circuit of Ireland providing the only blot on his copy book as a mechanical retirement forced him out of the event lead.
After the rally Elfyn Evans said, "The event was really tough, in fact it was probably the toughest of the season with the weather changing all the time, stage conditions changing constantly, it was difficult to keep up with everything and do the job in hand. After making a few wrong tyre choices yesterday we played it safe and erred on the side of caution on the second day to make sure we held our advantage and take the win. It feels pretty good to win the BRC title. We had hoped it was possible to wrap-up the title on the Ulster but in rallying anything can happen so we still needed to finish in a certain position and be in front of Tom [Cave] and Fredrik [Ahlin]. To combine it with a win is very special and it's nice to be going home with the championship, especially 20 years since my Dad [Gwyndaf Evans] won the title on this event. It just hasn't sunk in yet, it is amazing. It is a huge team effort from family, friends, the team, everything just clicked and it has been a very good year. We couldn't have asked for much more!"
The final round of the 2016 British Rally Championship is the Manx Rally on the Isle of Man 15/17 September and offering double points. Every driver has to drop one score and all Joker nominations have now been played.
Results - MSA British Rally Championship Round 6 - Ulster Rally
1. Evans (GBR)/Parry (GBR) Ford Fiesta R5 2:11:15.4
2. Greer (GBR)/Riddick (GBR) Citroen DS3 R5 +1:25.4
3. Bogie (GBR)/O'Reilly (IRL) Skoda Fabia R5 +2:00.4
4. Cronin (IRL)/Galvin (IRL) Citroen DS3 R5 +2:07.4
5. McCormack (GBR)/Moynihan (IRL) Skoda Fabia S2000 +4:31.9
6. Moffett (IRL)/ Rowan (IRL) Ford Fiesta R5 +5:53.7
7. Yates (GBR)/ Woodburn (GBR) Ford Fiesta R5 +5:55.4
8. Cave (GBR)/ Morgan (GBR) Ford Fiesta R5 +6:54.3
9. Edwards (GBR)/ Rogers (GBR) Ford Fiesta R5 +7:09.7
10. Laffey (GBR)/ Roughead (GBR) Ford Fiesta R5 +10:24.7
MSA 2016 British Rally Championship for Drivers points after 6 of 7 rounds.
1: Elfyn Evans 135 (Champion)
2: Tom Cave 74
3: Jonathan Greer 66
4: Fredrik Ahlin 65
5: Josh Moffett 52
6: David Bogie 36
7: Desi Henry 29
8: Marty McCormack 18
9: Rhys Yates 17
10: Jamie Anderson 16
23rd August, 2016
Despite a strong showing from Volkswagen team mate Andreas Mikkelsen in the opening stages of the rally, Sebastien Ogier scored his first WRC rally win in 6 months with victory on the 2016 Rally Germany but the smooth asphalt of Germany was always expected to be Ogier's chance to redress the 6 month balance since Sweden in February. But first Ogier and co-driver Julien Ingrassia had to overtake Volkswagen team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen, the Norwegian leading through Friday as Ogier dropped a little time with some small errors and less-than-ideal tyre choices but a stunning run through the famous Panzerplatte stage on Saturday morning was all it took for the reigning world champion to break free from his pursuers.
Jari-Matti Latvala's rally ended early though a gearbox damage on Friday's opener, though he did rejoin under Rally2 rules and scored a couple of useful powerstage bonus points. Team mate Mikkelsen was pushed back to fourth by the Hyundais of Dani Sordo and Thierry Neuville, this being Sordo's first podium of the season and his best finish since taking second behind Neuville in Hyundai's breakthrough one-two in Germany two years ago.
Third Hyundai driver Hayden Paddon finished fifth ahead of Mads Ostberg, helped by Ott Tanak losing fifth place to an alternator failure. The attrition in WRC1 allowed Esapekka Lappi to finish seventh in his WRC2 class winning Skoda Fabia after overcoming early leader Armin Kremer. His factory Skoda team-mate Pontus Tidemand was close behind but chose not to register for class points on this rally!
Results after SS 18:
Pos ..... Driver ..... Car ..... Gap
1. Ogier/Ingrassia Volkswagen Motorsport Polo 3h00m26.7s
2. Sordo/Marti Hyundai Motorsport Hyundai 0.3s
3. Thierry/Gilsoul Hyundai Motorsport Hyundai 0.4s
4. Mikkelsen/Jager Volkswagen Motorsport II Polo 27.2s
5. Paddon/Kennard Hyundai Motorsport N Hyundai 3m34.8s
6. Ostberg/Floene M-Sport World Rally Team Ford Fiesta 4m31.2s
7. Lappi/Ferm Skoda Motorsport Skoda Fabia 8m36.8s
8. Tidemand/Andersson Skoda Motorsport II Skoda Fabia 8m52.5s
9. Kopecky/Dresler Skoda Motorsport Skoda Fabia 9m44.2s
10. Kremer/Winklhofer BRR Team Skoda Fabia 10m10.6s
WRC Championship Positions after 9 of 13 Rounds:
1. Sebastien Ogier 169
2. Andreas Mikkelsen 110
3. Hayden Paddon 94
4. Thierry Neuville 94
5. Jari-Matti Latvala 89
6. Dani Sordo 86
7. Mads Ostberg 78
8. Ott Tanak 52
9. Kris Meeke 51
10. Craig Breen 25
22nd August, 2016
At the end of day one, Volkswagen's Andreas Mikkelsen leads Rally German on the first full asphalt event of the World Rally Championship season, but after setting the pace on SS3, the re-run of the rally-opening Mittelmosel stage, he dropped time on SS4 to team-mate Sebastien Ogier and Hyundai's Thierry Neuville - ending the stage just 4.7 seconds ahead of third-placed Ogier.
Frenchman Ogier then won the afternoon's final stage, the Ollmuth superspecial, but was only 0.4s faster than his VW team-mate, who carries a 4.3s lead into the second day. Neuville dropped to fourth behind Ogier with Hyundai team-mate Dani Sordo in the hunt in the second i20 WRC just 6.8s behind Neuville, after a strong afternoon.
Ott Tanak ended the day the best part of a minute down on Mikkelsen, but content with the way his Ford Fiesta's DMACK tyres had performed throughout the leg. Citroen's sole representative Stephane Lefebvre is sixth and ended the day 25s clear of M-Sport's Mads Ostberg. Hayden Paddon sits eighth in the third Hyundai after picking up a puncture on the second stage of the day, Moselland, and then suffered a "massive moment" on SS3 through a downhill left-hander while in sixth gear, ripping the rear bumper from his i20.
Retirements included VW's Jari-Matti Latvala and M-Sport's Eric Camilli allowing WRC2 leader Armin Kremer to occupy ninth at the end of the day and heading title hopeful Esapekka Lappi by 28.4s.
Positions after SS5:
Pos .... Driver .... Team .... Car .... Gap
1. Mikkelsen/Synnevaag Volkswagen Motorsport II Polo 59m42.6s
2. Ogier/Ingrassia Volkswagen Motorsport Polo 4.3s
3. Neuville/Gilsoul Hyundai Motorsport Hyundai 5.9s
4. Sordo/Marti Hyundai Motorsport Hyundai 12.7s
5. Tanak/Molder DMACK World Rally Team Ford 55.4s
6. Lefebvre/Moreau Citroen 1m06.6s
7. Ostberg/Floene M-Sport World Rally Team Ford 1m32.4s
8. Paddon/Kennard Hyundai Motorsport N Hyundai 1m45.0s
9. Kremer/Winklhofer BRR Baumschlager Team Fabia 3m03.1s
10. Lappi/Ferm Skoda Motorsport WRC2 Skoda Fabia 3m31.5s
19th August, 2016
In winning the 2016 Rally Finland; formerly known as the 1000 Lakes Rally and Rally of the Thousand Lakes, Kris Meeke has become the first Briton to win this iconic round of the World Rally Championship in its 65 year history and only the 6th non-Scandinavian driver to do so.
Volkswagen's Jari-Matti Latvala was second and Meeke's Northern Irish team mate Craig Breen third, producing two very welcome podium places for Citroen. Meeke's victory was also his second consecutive victory in the two rallies he's competed as part of his limited 2016 WRC campaign after Portugal in May. It is only the third WRC win of Meeke's career.
Meeke and co-driver Paul Nagle made their break on Friday's stages and a consistent day allowed them to build an 18-second lead over Latvala, responding to consolidate his lead when Latvala upped his pace. Meeke then made a big break on Saturday morning's first stage Ouninpohja, pulling out 13.4s over the rest of the field and added a further 6s to his advantage at the start of Saturday afternoon before backing off on the final six stages of the rally to win by 29.1s and deny Latvala his third-straight win at home.
The fiercest battle of the rally was for third, eventually going to Craig Breen in the second PH Sport Citroen DS3 who emerged in third on Saturday afternoon after having had to drive slowly following Eric Camilli's crash, but a timing allowance negated his loss. Breen was gradually caught by DMACK driver Ott Tanak, who himself had challenged for the lead early in the rally before damaged suspension dropped him down the order on Friday and he dramatically crashed near the beginning of Oittila, bringing his weekend to an abrupt end.
A late charge from the Hyundais of Thierry Neuville and Hayden Paddon meant that Breen had to keep his composure, but he did enough on the final stage to hold on to third by 4.6s, securing his first WRC podium in only his fourth event and he later paid an emotional tribute to his former co-driver Gareth Roberts, who died in a crash in 2011.
Neuville and Paddon went into the final stage just 1.2s apart with the position eventually going to Neuville, who also grabbed maximum powerstage points with the fastest time ahead of Paddon. Mads Ostberg always looked like a place in the top five was just beyond him, the M-Sport driver eventually falling away on Sunday morning with a problem at the rear of his Ford Fiesta to finish sixth ahead of Norwegian compatriot Andreas Mikkelsen, who'd tumbled down the order after he had to run first on the road on Saturday because a brake problem delayed Sebastien Ogier at the start of the morning.
Ogier was already out of the reckoning after crashing on Friday, uncharacteristically finishing his weekend without a point, although this makes little difference to his championship lead! Finn Esapekka Lappi took WRC2 victory and was rewarded with three WRC points after finishing eighth, with Hyundai's third driver Kevin Abbring; standing in for Dani Sordo, between Lappi and WRC2 runner-up Teemu Suninen.
Results after SS24:
Pos .... Driver .... Team .... Car .... Gap
1. Meeke/Nagle Abu Dhabi Total WRT Citroen 2h38m05.8s
2. Latvala/Anttila Volkswagen Motorsport Volkswagen 29.1s
3. Breen/Martin Abu Dhabi Total WRT Citroen 1m41.3s
4. Neuville/Gilsoul Hyundai Motorsport Hyundai 1m45.9s
5. Paddon/Kennard Hyundai Motorsport Hyundai 1m48.2s
6. Ostberg/Floene M-Sport World Rally Team Ford 2m04.6s
7. Mikkelsen/Synnevaag Volkswagen Motorsport II 2m22.4s
8. Lappi/Ferm Skoda Motorsport Skoda 4m53.8s
9. Abbring/Marshall Hyundai Motorsport Hyundai 5m22.4s
10. Suninen/Markkula Team Oreca Skoda 5m35.5s
World Rally Championship Positions after round 8 of 14
1 Sebastien Ogier 143
2 Andreas Mikkelsen 98
3 Jari-Matti Latvala 87
4 Hayden Paddon 84
5 Thierry Neuville 76
6 Mads Ostberg 70
7 Dani Sordo 68
8 Ott Tanak 52
9 Kris Meeke 51
10 Craig Breen 25
1st August, 2016