Tom Cave wins Exciting West Cork Rally

IRDC member Tom Cave took his first four wheel drive British Rally Championship win on the West Cork Rally 16 & 17 March. With co driver James Morgan, Cave won the event by 4.8 seconds in their Hyundai i20 R5 from reigning champion Matt Edwards Ford Fiesta R5 in second, with defending Irish Tarmac champion Josh Moffett Ford Fiesta R5 rounded out the podium. This win was the first BRC win for the Korean manufacturer Hyundai since David Higgins in 2004.

The Clonakilty Park Hotel West Cork Rally formed the second round of the BRC for the very first time and the event provided two days and over 200km of exciting rallying action. On some of the most iconic roads in Irish rallying, the weather also provided a formidable challenge as a wet and slippery first day was coupled with a flat out blast on bone dry asphalt on the second.

FIA World Rally Championship regulars Craig Breen and Paul Nagle took a comfortable overall win on the rally, but it was the fight in Britains premier rallying series that kept everyone on the edge of their seats right until the end. Defending Irish Tarmac Champion Josh Moffett with Keith Moriarty on the notes were quickest out the blocks, making their aspirations very clear and over the course of the opening five stages pulled out a 14.4 second lead. However, driveshaft woes forced them into two wheel drive on stage six, dropping them down to third and out of the leading battle.

Desi Henry was another driver keen to make his mark but unfortunately, he and navigator Liam Moynihan crashed out of second place on the first loop of stages in their Skoda Fabia R5, thankfully both were unhurt. Up stepped 2018 British Rally Champion and series leader Matt Edwards and co driver Patrick Walsh in their Pirelli supported Ford Fiesta R5. The Welsh crew were building the pace as the opening day unfolded and went into the overnight halt with a slender lead over Tom Cave.

Going into the final day, the two Welsh crews fought for the BRC win. Cave woke up in an inspired mood to go eight seconds quicker than Edwards and leap frogged the M Sport star in the process. The tussle for victory was to be a seesaw affair as the duo traded times and positions all afternoon with only 4.9 seconds going into the final stage.

Despite Edwards best effort, Cave was to be too strong this weekend and he and James Morgan won the BRC section of the event by 4.8 seconds to take their first BRC win together. After coming so close to an event win in recent times, Tom was elated at the finish. Matt Edwards did all he could, but a strong second place stretches his championship lead going into the Pirelli International Rally, an event he won last year. Josh Moffetts rhythm was effected after his driveshaft issues, but did enough to round out the final rostrum position.

BRC Championship Positions after two rounds
1. Matt Edwards 43
2. Marty McCormack 27
3. David Bogie 26
4. Tom Cave 25
5. Josh Moffett 25
6. Desi Henry 12
7. Jonny Greer 10
8. Meirion Evans 8

18th March, 2019

Sebastien Ogier wins Rally Mexico

Beginning the final day of Rally Mexico with a 27 second advantage over Elfyn Evans, Ogier took victory from Ott Tanak, who had past Elfyn Evans on the loop opening Alfaro test to finish 19.7s ahead of the Welshman, who completed the podium. Ogier had eclipsed Kris Meeke for the Power Stage victory by only 0.025s, ending up with 30.2s in hand over Tanak and secured the maximum 30 champiopship points, moving him up to second in the table ahead of Thierry Neuville on 61 points and four behind Toyota driver Tanak on 65.

Neuville finished a distant fourth, also collecting three bonus points for third on the Power Stage, but now lies 10 points adrift of Tanak. Following tyre and wheel issues, Kris Meeke, completed the top five after coasting through the morning stages to save his tyres for a push on the Power Stage, which yielded the Toyota driver four bonus points.

Mexican driver Benito Guerra scored his first WRC2 win on home soil with sixth overall in his Skoda Fabia R5 amid high attrition in the top class. Jari Matti Latvala, who retired with alternator failure on Friday and returned under Rally2, lost out to WRC2 driver Marco Bulacia Wilkinson in their fight over seventh place, his Yaris completing the stage with its radiator sealed by glue and its front bumper missing. But, he collected a 40 second penalty due to emergency repairs forcing him to check out late from the regroup. Dani Sordo, Hyundai, finished ninth on his return from Friday retirement and also picked up two bonus points for fourth on the Power Stage, with Ricardo Trivino completing the top 10 in his Fabia R5.

Final Results - Rally Mexico
Pos. Driver/Co-driver Car Class Time/Gap
1. Ogier/Ingrassia  Citroen RC1 3h37m08.0s
2. Tanak/Jarveoja Toyota RC1 +30.2s
3. Evans/Martin  Ford  RC1 +49.9s
4. Neuville/Gilsoul  Hyundai RC1 +1m27.0s
5. Meeke/Marshall Toyota  RC1 +6m06.2s
6. Guerra/Zapata  Skoda RC2 +15m35.5s
7. Wilkinson/Cretu  Skoda RC2 +18m51.5s
8. Latvala/ Anttila  Toyota  RC1 +18m55.9s
9. Sordo/del Barrio  Hyundai RC1 +22m41.1s
10. Trivino/Marti  Skoda RC2 +30m13.8s

2019 World Rally Drivers Championship
1. Ott Tanak 65
2. Sebastien Ogier 61
3. Thierry Neuville 55
4. Kris Meeke 35
5. Elfyn Evans 28
6. Esapekka Lappi 20
7. Sébastien Loeb 18
8. Jari-Matti Latvala 14
9. Andreas Mikkelsen 12
10. Benito Guerra 8
11. Gus Greensmith 6
12. Marco Bulacia 6

11th March, 2019

Tanak Extends Rally Sweden Lead

At the end of day 2 on Rally Sweden, Andreas Mikkelsen and Esapekka Lappi are tied for second place behind Ott Tanak. With three stages remaining and Thierry Neuville a close fourth, Tanak managed his gap on Saturday's final two stages on the short Karlstad superspecial first used on Thursday and a shortened version of Friday's last stage, Torsby Sprint.

The main action however was between Mikkelsen, Lappi and Neuville over second place, with Lappi 1.9s behind in fourth and Neuville 4.5s off his Hyundai team-mate after the afternoon rerun of Saturday morning's three stages. Citroen driver Lappi carved 1.5s out of Mikkelsen's advantage on the Karlstad superspecial and then won back another 0.4s through Torsby Sprint, leaving the pair dead level, both 54.5s behind Tanak's Toyota.

Hovering close behind, Neuville won the day-ending Torsby Sprint, taking over a second out of Mikkelsen on each of the two short tests to finish 2.3s behind the tied pair. Elfyn Evans lost four seconds to Neuville across those two stages, casting him further adrift of the podium battle that he had been part of this morning. He remains fifth, 11.9s off Neuville.

A battle for sixth between Kris Meeke and Sebastien Loeb had looked set to go Loeb's way based on his pace earlier in the afternoon, and they headed to the pair of superspecials separated by only 0.5s. A strong run from Meeke opened that gap up, though Loeb claimed half a second back on Torsby Sprint to finish the day 1.6s adrift of Meeke in seventh. Pontus Tidemand continues to hold eighth place.

Leading positions after SS16
Pos Driver Team Car Gap
1 Ott Tanak, M.Jarveoja Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT 2h19m31.7s
2 Esapekka Lappi, J.Ferm Citroen Total WRT 54.5s
2 Andreas Mikkelsen, A.Jager Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT 54.5s
4 Thierry Neuville, N.Gilsoul Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT 56.8s
5 Elfyn Evans, S.Martin M-Sport Ford WRT 1m08.7s
6 Kris Meeke, S.Marshall Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT 1m36.5s
7 Sebastien Loeb, D.Elena Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT 1m38.1s
8 Pontus Tidemand, O.Floene M-Sport Ford WRT 3m08.0s
9 Janne Tuohino, M.Markkula Janne Tuohino 7m17.3s
10 Lorenzo Bertelli, S.Scattolin M-Sport Ford WRT 11m58.3s

16th February, 2019

Suninen leads in Sweden

M-Sports. Teemu Suninen leads his first WRC event in Sweden from Ott Tanaks Toyota and Andeas Mikkelsens Hyundai. Jari-Matti Latvala and Sebastien Ogier had been fighting in the leading group of cars but both went off into snow banks and lost varying amounts of time, retiring for the day to return under Rally 2 conditions for the second day.

Elfyn Evans is fourth, Esapekka Lappi fifth for Citroen and Sebastien Loeb sixth on his first snow rally for 6 years. Thierry Neuville is 7th and Kris Meeks eighth, 53 seconds down on the leader.

15th February, 2019

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