Kris Meeke goes in to this weekend's Rally Finland as favourite according to Volkswagen team boss Jost Capito. Although Citroen is only contesting a part-season in this year's Rally Championship, Meeke goes to Finland ninth in the standings and will therefore start the rally eighth on the road given the injured Dani Sordo's absence.
Though Sebastien Ogier, VW's lead driver, still holds a comfortable advantage in the championship, he has not won on gravel all season and VW boss Capito sees no sign of that changing given the current running order rules, placing the points leader first on the road for the majority of each event.
Meeke dismissed Capito's prediction he was near-certain to become the first Briton to win Finland this weekend as "bullshit," he said. "Finland's nothing like Portugal, or Sardinia or Poland. Even if it's bone dry this week, there are only a few places where it'll be more tricky. The weather here has been wet in the run-up to the event. Running first on the road will be no disadvantage at all this week. In fact, it's quite possible it might be an advantage."
Meeke's pace in Finland in 2013 when he was seeking his seat with Citroen was one of the most significant drives of his WRC career, as he ran fifth on his event début before crashing. In 2014 he was third and led early on in 2015 before going off. Having not competed in the DS 3 since his Portugal win in May, Meeke doubts he can win this weekend. "I would have to really stick my neck out to be on the pace in Finland, that's not what this rally is about for me. I had to do that last year, I had to set those times to try and get the long-term deal that I wanted."
PROVISIONAL FINLAND START ORDER
1 Sebastien Ogier
2 Andreas Mikkelsen
3 Hayden Paddon
4 Jari-Matti Latvala
5 Mads Ostberg
6 Thierry Neuville
7 Ott Tanak
8 Kris Meeke
9 Eric Camilli
10 Henning Solberg
27th July, 2016
Doesn't time fly, it's nearly that time of year again! The details of the 20th edition of Rallye Monte-Carlo Historique are beginning to form and once again the International Rally Drivers Club are entering a team in Januarys event.
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25th July, 2016
Andreas Mikkelsen scored his second World Rally Championship victory on the Rally Poland after being locked in a lead battle with Ott Tanak and Hayden Paddon for the whole weekend. Up to the last day it looked as if Tanak had done enough to secure his first WRC win and also that of the DMACK tyre team too, also bringing M-Sport Ford its first victory since Rally GB 2012.
But when the fat lady eventually sang it was Mikkelsen, with new-for-2016 co-driver Anders Jaeger, who came through to win by 26s as Tanak only just hung on to second but still scored DMACK's first podium position - ahead of Hyundai's fast closing Paddon and Thierry Neuville.
Only 14.1s covered second to sixth at the end of the rally after VW pair Jari-Matti Latvala and Ogier won the final two stages. Ogier had hung on just behind the podium battle on day one when running first on the road proved less painful than on recent events. But the Saturday stages were tougher and the world champion fell to a distant sixth place.
Craig Breen emerged on top of a head-to-head with his rival for a 2017 Citroen drive Stephane Lefebvre after they'd completed most of the rally tied together, Lefebvre first having the advantage with a maiden stage win, only to then crash on Sunday's second stage but despite severe left-rear damage, Lefebvre and PH Sport were able to get the car repaired and he finished 12th, while Breen was seventh.
Mads Ostberg finished eighth and Camilli limped home in ninth in the sister car after he'd damaged his rear suspension in a crash after the finish of the penultimate stage. Dani Sordo was closing on them both before first damaging the front of his car and then his rear suspension, the latter terminal. This allowed Teemu Suninen to claim 10th overall and victory in WRC2 in his ORECA Skoda after a hard-fought weekend battling M-Sport's Elfyn Evans and works Fabia men Esapekka Lappi and Pontus Tidemand.
Results after SS21:
Pos .... Driver .... Team .... Car .... Gap
1. Andreas Mikkelsen/A.J.Synnevaag Volkswagen Motorsport II 2h37m34.4s
2. Ott Tanak/R.Molder DMACK World Rally Team Ford 26.2s
3. Hayden Paddon/J.Kennard Hyundai Motorsport Hyundai 28.5s
4. Thierry Neuville/N.Gilsoul Hyundai Motorsport Hyundai 29.3s
5. Jari-Matti Latvala/M.Anttila Volkswagen Motorsport 33.8s
6. Sebastien Ogier/J.Ingrassia Volkswagen Motorsport 40.3s
7. Craig Breen/S.Martin Abu Dhabi Total WRT Citroen 2m01.4s
8. Mads Ostberg/O.Floene M-Sport World Rally Team Ford 3m04.6s
9. Eric Camilli/B.Veillas M-Sport World Rally Team Ford 5m23.1s
10.Teemu Suninen/M.Markkula Team Oreca Skoda Fabia 5m53.3s
5th July, 2016
DMACK British Rally Team driver Elfyn Evans and co-driver Craig Parry won the 2016 RSAC Scottish Rally and in doing so, took a commanding lead of the MSA British Rally Championship by 20 points. Evan's parring partner for the championship Fredrik Ahlin retired from the event.
Rising-star Tom Cave put his Michelin-backed Fiesta R5 into second place with Irishman Desi Henry taking his first BRC podium place with third in his Pirelli-shod Skoda Fabia R5, making it three tyre manufacturers on the rostrum. Local-hero David Bogie held a solid second overall until damage to his Skoda Fabia's radiator but paid to his weekend on the final stage, denying his home fans the chance to see him on the podium.
The exciting one-day Scottish Rally provided a thrilling fourth round of Britain's premier rallying championship and started to the sound of a traditional bagpipe player as crews set off from the Ceremonial Start in the centre of Dumfries - heading into 62 miles of fast and furious forestry action. Classic gravel tests including Castle O'er, Gubhill Rig and Burnfoot providing an exciting day of rallying action with dust being a particular challenge in the morning loop while heavy rain showers made the competitive stages slippery in the afternoon.
Ever-consistent Welshman and IRDC member Cave continues his 100% finishing record by returning to a podium position he's longed for since the Mid Wales Stages. The Spencer Sport driver suffered a lack of power on a number of stages early on and was never able to challenge Evans for victory on the flat-out Scottish stages as a result. Although holding a comfortable third place going into the final stage, the rising star went on a late charge to wrestle runner-up spot from home-grown hero David Bogie. As Cave had played his double-points 'Joker' he has moved back into championship contention.
Bogie's demise meant Irishman Desi Henry (Skoda Fabia R5) recorded his best finish on a British Championship event by chalking up a fine third overall snd has shown glimpses of pace on previous events, but it all came together on round 4 while Jonathan Greer mades it three manufacturers in the top four in his Citroen DS3 R5. CA1 Sport driver Fredrik Ahlin had led the series coming into the Scottish but on stage four, had to retire, with a broken propshaft.
After the rally Elfyn Evans said, "This win is what we wanted as we have had a lot of bad luck on the last few rounds and we wanted to get on back track in Scotland. I am really happy that we managed to do it and we can go to the next round pretty happy and with confidence as well. It is a shame Fredrik [Ahlin] and David [Bogie] retired the way they did, but fortunately luck has gone our way this time and I look forward to the battle resuming on the Nicky Grist Stages in two weeks time."
MSA British Rally Championship Round 4 - RSAC Scottish Rally
1. Elfyn Evans (GBR)/Craig Parry (GBR) Ford Fiesta R5
2. Tom Cave (GBR)/James Morgan (GBR) Ford Fiesta R5 +52.4
3. Desi Henry (IRL)/Liam Moynihan (IRL) Skoda Fabia R5 +2:14.4
4. Jonathan Greer (GBR)/Kirsty Riddick (GBR) Citroen DS3 R5 +2:42.6
5. Josh Moffett (IRL)/John Rowan (IRL) Ford Fiesta R5 +2:56.0
6. Jamie Anderson (GBR)/Ross Whittock (GBR) Ford Fiesta R5 +2:58.8
7. Matt Edwards (GBR)/Will Rogers (GBR) Mitsubishi Evo 9 +3:59.8
8. Thomas Preston (GBR)/Jack Morton (GBR) Skoda Fabia R5 +6:41.4
9. Sindre Furuseth (NOR)/ Jim Hjerpe (SWE) Renault Twingo R2 +7:08.8
10. Ollie Mellors (GBR)/ Ian Windress (GBR) Proton Satria S2000 + 7:14.5
MSA British Rally Championship for Drivers points (after 4 of 7 rounds)
1: Elfyn Evans 85*
2: Fredrik Ahlin 65*
3: Tom Cave 56*
4: Josh Moffett 36
5: Jonathan Greer 31
6: Desi Henry 19*
7: David Bogie 18*
8: Matthew Wilson 15
9: Jamie Anderson 13
10: Matt Edwards 8*
* Drivers have played their double points 'Joker'
The full results and championship points can be found at www.msabrc.com
27th June, 2016