Friday 31 July 2015

Rally - Finland Day 1

There were 8 stages on the first day of Rally Finland with Kris Meeke and Paul Nagle setting the second-fastest time on the opening stage (SS2) to grab the overall lead. Throughout the leg, with a stage win on Päijälä (SS7), he matched the pace of Jari-Matti Latvala and Sébastien Ogier. Despite a minor moment on Ouninpohja (SS4) and a penalty for arriving late at a time control at the end of the afternoon, the Northern Irishman remained among the front-runners and made it back to Jyväskylä in third place overall tonight, around twenty seconds behind the leader. Mads Østberg completed the top four at the end of Day 1.

Kris Meeke: “I felt just as good in the car as I did last year on this very fast course. I had a strange feeling with the car after the first run on Ouninpohja. I heard a noise at the front; first of all, I thought it was a puncture and then that it was a transmission issue. We’re going to take a look in service. In the afternoon, I concentrated even harder to keep the car on the racing line and even managed to claim a stage win!”

Mads Østberg added: “The day went well. We lost a few seconds at the start of the morning. From stage three onwards, we were more or less on the pace. We are going to keep going and continue to push in order to put pressure on the leaders.”

Latvala and Ogier were opn their own at the head of the field. Team mate Andreas Mikkelsen is out: “Today was not our day and we crashed out. My pace notes were a little too optimistic on the fifth stage. I lifted in a long left-hander with a slight crest, which can be taken flat-out in perfect conditions. However, that did not prove to be enough. We ran out of road and rolled several times.”

It wasn't  good day for the M-Sport team either with Ott Tanak down in 10th place and Elfyn Evans in 20th. Ott Tänak explained: "A couple of kilometres before the end of the second stage [of the morning, SS3] I over-corrected one corner. It looked tighter than what we had it down as in the notes and we were fully sideways on the exit. There was a big stone and we clipped it which damaged the damper. Thankfully, we were able to get the car back to service, but we have lost a lot of time as a result.

Elfyn Evans lost even more time: "We ran wide at the start of Ouninpohja [SS4] and there was a huge stone on the exit of the corner which we hit and damaged the rear suspension arm. We managed to make a temporary repair that got us back to service, but we lost so much time and the whole afternoon was mainly about nursing the car back. It's been frustrating, but it's from my own doing so I have nothing to blame other than myself. It's been a long afternoon, on what would have been massively enjoyable stages, so we're obviously very disappointed."

"We were feeling really good in the car for the first two stages [SS2 and SS3]. It didn't feel particularly risky and we felt that we were reasonably clean so we just need to put today behind us and focus on developing that same pace tomorrow."

Leaderboard after 10 (of 20 stages):
1. Jari-Matti Latvala / Miikka Anttila (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) 1:16.19.2
2. Sébastien Ogier / Julien Ingrassia (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) +2.6
3. Kris Meeke / Paul Nagle (DS 3 WRC) +24.0
4. Mads Østberg / Jonas Andersson (DS 3 WRC) +34.1
5. Thierry Neuville / Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) +1:49.6
6. Dani Sordo / Marc Marti (Hyundai i20 WRC) +1:52.3
7. Juho Hänninen / Tomi Tuominen (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +2:22.5
8. Martin Prokop / Jan Tomanek (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +2:46.6
9. Esapekka Lappi / Janne Ferm (Skoda Fabia R5) +3:18.5
10. Ott Tanak / Raigo Molder (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +3:30.2…

Rally - Mach1 Blethers

A look back at the Mach1 Stages. Late night revelry, harbour dookings, camping for the elderly, bonfires and cremations, and excessive perspiration. It can only be another event in the life of Scottish rallying ...

Thursday 30 July 2015

Rally - Meeke's new team?

In a shock move this morning it has been revealed that Kris Meeke might be all set to leave the Citroen WRC squad to join the little known Autoliitto team. Kris was spotted getting some driver tuition from one of Finland’s rising stars at a secret test facility ahead of this weekend’s Rally Finland. Kris went for a seat fitting in the heavily disguised, revolutionary new WRC contender where it became instantly apparent that some modifications will need to be made to accommodate the lanky Northern Irishman. Apparently the pedal box was set too high and the seat mountings require more adjustment.  Kris was very non-committal about the test, but professed great interest in the fledgling team.

Only kidding. Kris enjoyed some down-time yesterday after 4 days of testing  and ahead of today’s shakedown which comprises a minimum of three runs on the Ruuhimäki stage which was the final stage in last year’s rally.

Able to draw on his growing experience, Kris regards this event as one of his favourites. He finished third last year behind Latvala and Ogier in only his second appearance at Rally Finland in the DS 3 WRC.

Ahead of the rally Kris commented: “I have more experience on the events in the second half of the season. Finland is therefore a round that I am really looking forward to. The stages are fairly similar to the ones we saw last year. There’ll be plenty of excitement and everyone is delighted that the long version of Ouninpohja is back this year.”

Talking about the shakedown, Kris added: “It’s essential to be effective starting with taking pace notes. Adopting the right pace makes the job of reading the lines easier. We’ll also be able to work on the set-up, which is very specific to the high speeds and the big jumps. One of the challenges will be adapting the car to the conditions if the roads become rutted on the second runs. In 2014, I kept up with the front two until the start of the final day. It would be perfect to maintain the same kind of pace, although I know there are quite a few of us who want to fight at the front!”

Rally - Question time

Think of Somerset and you probably think of cider, cheese and a leisurely way of life, but not for one man, Phil Barrett. Originally from Ilminster he is the engineer responsible for Volkswagen Polo WRC engines at each round of the World Rally Championship series. Formerly with Jaguar/Land Rover and before that Cosworth, Prodrive, Ilmor and Mitsubishi, amongst others, Phil faces one of his biggest challenges this weekend.

With the return of the ‘Ouninpohja’ stage on this weekend’s Rally Finland, the demands on engine and chassis are huge. On the 33 km route last used on the 2013 Rally Finland, the WRC machines took off exactly 77 times and were in the air for a total of 30.4 seconds – unrivalled by any other special stages in the world.

What makes the Rally Finland magical for an engine engineer?
Phil Barrett: “Quite simply: it is all about speed. Finland is one of several rallies in which the engine performance is more crucial to the performance of the overall package of the World Rally Car than in other places. In addition to Finland, other rallies where this is the case include Mexico and Sweden. On top of this, Finland has the longest history and greatest tradition as a full throttle rally. Finland is the greatest challenge for the engine department, so to speak.”

 What are the exact demands that the Rally Finland places on engines?
Phil: “You need as much horsepower as possible, that much is clear. But there is another, lesser known effect. According to the regulations, the speed of an engine must not exceed 8,500 rpm. Getting as close as possible to this value without exceeding it on the long, full throttle sections and on the many jumps sounds easier than it is. If the rpm is exceeded, an FIA system intervenes – extremely sharply and abruptly. So you need to make sure that you keep the maximum speed as high as possible without this system intervening. However, you can also lose five kilometres per hour at top speed if the engine control is too conservative.”

The Polo R WRC holds the record for speed on ‘Ouninpohja’. Do you think it will be broken this year?
Phil (laughs): “I would love to answer with a definite ’yes’. But I think that it depends on the circumstances of the rally. If it is as close again as it was in Poland, all the drivers will go at full throttle without compromise. And as far as the Polo R WRC is concerned, it has improved in all areas since 2013, which is when ’Ouninpohja’ was last held. The engine has developed further, but so have the aerodynamics and the chassis. The chassis in particular is what has improved the overall package – so in theory it is possible.”

Wednesday 29 July 2015

Rally - 2016 BRC latest

The organisers of the 2016 MSA British Rally Championship will hold an open meeting for competitors and teams on Friday 18th September at Castle Combe Circuit, Chippenham, Wiltshire SN14 7EY.

The event will enable those considering an entry in any of the classes of the 2016 BRC to find out more about the championship and ask any outstanding questions.

The meeting will begin at 1.30pm on Friday 18th September with a sandwich lunch available from 12.30pm. Those wishing to attend should email their details to as access to the circuit will be restricted on the day. Those not able to attend are also invited to register their details at so that full information can be sent to them on the day.

Since this meeting will be held the day before Rallyday (19th Sept), why not stay over? BRC representatives will also be available for further discussions throughout Saturday's Rallyday on the main Wales Rally GB stand.