Block calls on Latvala for Finland
Ken Block says a test with factory Ford driver Jari-Matti Latvala in
Finland last Friday has helped him to overcome some of the challenges he
will face when he makes his debut on the country's FIA World Rally
Championship round this week.
The Gymkhana star will contest the high-speed gravel round in his
regular Monster World Rally Team Ford Fiesta RS WRC and has been in
Finland since last week to prepare for his third world championship
appearance of 2012.
“We did about 32 kilometres with Jari and it was quite an experience
and amazing to see how unique these road are,” said Block. “The road we
used was like a rollercoaster with so many turns over crests and jumps.
It was great for me to see how Jari was setting up for the different
situations throughout the road and it was very nice of the Ford World
Rally Team to let me do that so thank you to those guys.”
Block completed his own test on Saturday ahead of the reconnaissance
for Neste Oil Rally Finland getting underway on Monday. The American
said it had been an invaluable exercise.
“I have a little more knowledge about car set-up and how to set my
notes up because it’s quite unique how dramatic these roads are,” said
Block. “It’s one thing to see them on camera but it’s a whole other
thing to look at these lines when driving down the road.”
Block used part of his test to offer friend and professional
snowboarder Iikka Backstrom a high-speed ride in his Fiesta. Like Block,
Backstrom is a DC Shoes-backed athlete. In an interview afterwards
Backstrom said it was “the most scariest experience of my life”.
Chris Atkinson I'm Ready For Finland
Chris Atkinson says his participation in the FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship will make up for his lack of running in the global series when he contests Neste Oil Rally Finland this week.
Atkinson has only tackled two FIA World Rally Championship rounds since the end of 2008 but has been a regular in the regional competition for the last two seasons and currently leads the standings by 45 points following the recent Malaysian Rally.
The 32-year-old Australian returns to rallying’s top tier in Finland in a Qatar World Rally Team Citroen DS3 WRC in place of Nasser Al-Attiyah, who is representing his country in the skate shooting section of the London Olympics.
“Although I have moved away from the WRC, I’m still actively involved in rally,” said Atkinson, a podium finisher on six occasions in the world championship. “I am very pleased to get this opportunity and really enthusiastic about competing again [in] Finland. I’ve already taken part in this rally five times and I finished on the podium last time I was here in 2008. I hope I can get on the pace with the DS3 quickly, which seems currently to be the best World Rally Car. The four works drivers seem very determined to fight it out for the win, but I hope I can mix it with the leaders.”
Al-Attiyah, meanwhile, will begin his bid for Olympic gold tomorrow (Monday) when he takes part in the qualifying round. The final is scheduled to take place the following afternoon.
Gronholm closes gap
Finland's Marcus Gronholm won
the Rally of Turkey to close the gap on championship leader
Gronholm led from start to finish for his
fifth win of 2006
He now trails the Frenchman, currently out of action with
a broken arm, by 25 points with three races left. Ford team-mate and compatriot Mikko Hirvonen took second
with Norway's Henning Solberg in third in a Peugeot. Britain's Colin McRae, hired by Loeb's Kronos Citroen
team to try and peg back Gronholm, retired on the final
stage in his first WRC event of 2006.
Between them, Gronholm and Loeb have won every rally this
season with the Frenchman, who could also miss the next
rally in Australia, taking eight so far. "It will be difficult, but it's possible," said the Finn
of his championship chances. Gronholm's latest win also moved Ford ahead Citroen in
the constructors' championship, and they now lead by eight
points. The remaining events are Australia (27-29 October),
followed by the Rally of New Zealand (17-19 November) and
the Wales Rally GB (1-3 December).
Rally of Turkey result:
1. Marcus Gronholm
(Fin) Ford 3:28:16.300
2. Mikko Hirvonen (Fin) Ford +02:23.400
3. Henning Solberg (Nor) Peugeot 03:06.000
4. Xavier Pons (Spa) Citroen 03:27.400
5. Kosti Katajamaki (Fin) Ford 03:28.500
6. Chris Atkinson (Aus) Subaru 03:36.500
7. Daniel Sordo (Spa) Citroen 04:24.800
8. Manfred Stohl (Aut) Peugeot 04:30.300
9. Francois Duval (Bel) Skoda 05:35.600
10. Andreas Aigner (Aut) Skoda 06:57.400
McRae steps in for
Colin McRae will make a world
rally comeback in Turkey as replacement for injured champion
McRae was Britain's first world rally
Kronos Citroen driver Loeb, on the verge of a third
straight WRC title, broke his arm in a cycling accident and
misses the 13-15 October event.
According to French newspaper L'Equipe, Loeb says he is
unsure when he will be able to return to action.
McRae, the 1995 world champion, was Loeb's team-mate at
Citroen in 2003 but lost his drive at the end of that year.
The 38-year-old Scot's last WRC appearance came at the
end of 2005 with Skoda, when he competed in two events.
McRae will be partnered by long-time co-driver Nicky
Grist of Wales.
The pair parted company in 2002 after several successful
seasons together, with McRae saying their relationship had
A statement from Kronos said: "(Team boss) Marc van Dalen
and (Citroen Sport director) Guy Frequelin have searched for
the best solution to help the team defend its lead in both
the drivers' and manufacturers' championships.
"Colin McRae has been chosen to help the team, and he is
highly motivated to do his maximum to serve Sebastien and
Kronos Citroen's interests."
Frenchman Loeb, who has a 35-point advantage over
Finland's Marcus Gronholm with four races left this season,
has backed McRae's appointment.
"Of all the drivers who were available, Colin is the one
who has the best record, the greatest experience and who's
also probably the fastest," said Loeb said.
"Another important trump card is that he knows the car
Loeb damaged his arm after falling off his mountain bike
during training but still hopes to claim the championship
"As long as I won't be there, it will be easier for
Marcus to win rallies," said Loeb.
"That said, if he has the slightest problem, he could be
out of it without me having to get involved.
"How soon I will return will depend on how it all
develops and for the moment, it's impossible to say.
"When you drive in rallies all year, you don't imagine
that you can put your career at risk by riding a bike, but
that's part of my physical preparation."
Title-chasing Loeb hit by injury
Sebastien Loeb's hopes of
clinching a third successive World Rally crown in Turkey
next month have been dashed after he suffered a broken right
Loeb's title charge has been halted
The Frenchman, 32, was hurt while mountain bike training
in Switzerland and will miss the Rally of Turkey.
Kronos Citroen driver Loeb leads the standings after 12
of 16 events by 35 points from Finland's Marcus Gronholm.
He only needed to finish in front of Gronholm, or in the
top four if his rival wins, to seal another title.
"It is a really tough blow," Loeb said on his website. "I
was going down a dirt track in a forest and my front wheel
"I went over the handlebars and landed on my shoulder."
Kronos team boss Marc van Dalen refused to put a time
frame on Loeb's recovery.
"He underwent surgery on Wednesday and will not be
available to compete in Turkey. We can't really look beyond
that at the moment," he said.
"We feel bad for him because he's an exceptional
individual. But he's an athlete and athletes recover faster
After the Rally of Turkey (13-15 October), the next WRC
round takes place in Australia from 27-29 October.
Loeb secures Cyprus win hat-trick
Sebastien Loeb clinched his third successive Rally of
Cyprus victory on Sunday to stretch his lead in the World
Rally championship to 35 points.
The Citroen driver's eighth win of the season was secured
when he came home 21 seconds clear of Marcus Gronholm.
Loeb now only needs to finish in front of Gronholm next
time out in Turkey, or in the first four if the Finn wins,
to clinch his third straight world title.
Gronholm finished in third place, 26 seconds behind Loeb.
Going into the third day, Loeb had a 21.8 second lead
over Gronholm, which he extended when he won Sunday's
But the Ford driver proved he was not going
down without a fight, winning the rest of the day's stages.
"It's my third win in a row in Cyprus," said Loeb after
his eighth win of the season. "It doesn't get much better."
"I gave everything I could from start to finish.
"Marcus pushed me very hard for two days. Now we can
hopefully go to Turkey and confirm the championship."
A disappointed Gronholm shrugged off his own setback,
saying: "We are fighting to win rallies and manufacturers'
(points). We are a bit down now, but wait, wait," he said.
"It was a big ask to try and catch Seb. The team decided
that it was more important that we confirmed second place
and collected championship points. After the first stage
this morning it was time to be sensible."
Gronholm's team mate Mikko Hirvonen was third overall and
said he would pay particular attention to the set-up of his
Ford Focus in Turkey next month.
"I made a big mistake with the car set-up," Hirvonen
Cyprus final result:
1. S Loeb (Fr) Citroen Xsara 4hr 40min
2. M Gronholm (Fin) Ford Focus @ 21.2 secs
3. M Hirvonen (Fin) Ford Focus @ 5:16.1
4. M Stohl (Aut) Peugeot 307 @ 6:39.7
5. T Gardemeister (Fin) Citroen Xsara @ 8:40.4
6. X Pons (Sp) Citroen Xsara @ 10:05.9
7. H Solberg (Nor) Peugeot 307 @ 14:40.0
8. P Solberg (Nor) Subaru Impreza @ 15:21.5
9. C Atkinson (Aus) Subaru Impreza @ 17:15.0
10. M Wilson (GB) Ford Focus @ 25:21.0
1. S Loeb (Fr) 112 pts
2. M Gronholm (Fin) 77
3. D Sordo (Sp) 41
4. M Hirvonen (Fin) 39
5. M Stohl (Aut) 33
6. P Solberg (Nor) 23
7. T Gardemeister (Fin) 20
8. H Solberg (Nor) 18
9. G Galli (It) 15
10. C Atkinson (Aus) 14
1. Kronos Citroen 142
2. Ford 135
3. Subaru 79
4. OMV-Peugeot 59
5. Stobart-VK Ford WRT 30
6. RedBull-Skoda 22
for rampant Loeb
Sebastien Loeb, driving a Kronos Citroen, claimed
his second successive victory in the Rally of Corsica.
Loeb was in fine form on the Mediterranean island's
The French world champion led the event from start to finish
and crossed the line 29 seconds ahead of Ford driver Marcus
Gronholm of Finland in second.
Rising Spanish star Dani Sordo put in another solid performance
in his first WRC season for third place.
Loeb's triumph extends his lead in this year's World Rally
Championship to 11 points after wins in Spain and Mexico.
Finland's Mikko Hirvonen, in his Ford, finished fourth 10.5
seconds behind Sordo while Frenchman Alex Bengue, driving a
BSA-Peugeot, took fifth place.
Petter Solberg's hopes of cutting Loeb's lead in the championship
standings ended on Friday when the Norwegian's Subaru went off
the track during the first stage.
Loeb said: "I did not win all the stages like last year and
it was not easy. I really had to fight to beat Marcus."
"I'm happy to have taken so many points in these Tarmac rallies
which are most suited to the Xsara. Remember Marcus is very
strong on dirt.
"I got into a good rhythm, my car handled the tight turns
really well and the gap began to open up naturally.
"He (Gronholm) was less comfortable from then on and he must
have said to himself it was better to take eight points than
lose 10. You can understand that."
Gronholm was disappointed not to win but happy enough with
another good showing on a surface not as suitable to his car
"I couldn't do much more," said Gronholm. "I knew on Friday
when Sebastien had already gone 19 seconds clear that I'd find
it hard to pull him back."
Rally of Corsica
1. Sebastien Loeb (Fra) Citroen 3:43:05.400
2. Marcus Groenholm (Fin) Ford +00:29.000
3. Daniel Sordo (Spa) Citroen 01:48.700
4. Mikko Hirvonen (Fin) Ford 01:59.200
5. Alex Bengue (Fra) Peugeot 02:47.700
6. Xavier Pons (Spa) Citroen 03:10.200
7. Manfred Stohl (Aut) Peugeot 05:01.300
8. Stephane Sarrazin (Fra) Subaru 05:21.900
9. Gianluigi Galli (Ita) Peugeot 05:42.500
10. Jan Kopecky (Cze) Skoda 06:11.400
on for Mexico success
World champion Sebastien Loeb of France claimed
his first victory of the season with a win in the Rally of Mexico.
Loeb kept his nerve to emerge victorious in
The Citroen Xsara driver took the lead on the second day
from Norway's Petter Solberg and won Sunday's three stages to
Solberg finished second, 48.9 seconds behind Loeb, with Austrian
Manfred Stohl third, nearly five minutes back.
The win sent Loeb to the top of the standings after three
rounds with 26 points, five ahead of Marcus Gronholm.
The Finn, who had won the first two rallies of the season,
crashed out on day one but was allowed to rejoin the race with
a 20-minute penalty, five for each stage he missed, and he fought
back to claim a point for eighth.
Loeb's new team Kronos also took over at the
top of the constructors championship with 34 points, three ahead
of Gronholm's Ford.
"This is a great win because it's the first for the Kronos
team," said Loeb, who was WRC champion in 2004 and 2005.
"I'm really happy. For Kronos, it's a big moment. This is
a difficult rally and I lost a lot of time on the first day.
"It was also important to put an end to Gronholm's run of
Daniel Sordo, a protege of former world champion Carlos Sainz,
scored an impressive fourth place in his Citroen, while Henning
Solberg was fifth in a Peugeot.
Irishman Gareth MacHale put in his best performance in a
world championship rally to claim points for sixth place in
his Ford, one ahead of Subaru's Chris Atkinson.
Rally of Mexico result
1 Sebastien Loeb (Fra) Citroën Xsara 3hr 47min 08.8sec
2 Petter Solberg (Nor) Subaru Impreza at 48.9
3 Manfred Stohl (Aut) Peugeot 307 4:39.1
4 Daniel Sordo (Sp) Citroën Xsara 5:27.7
5 Henning Solberg (Nor) Peugeot 307 12:35.4
6 Gareth McHale (Irl) Ford Focus RS 16:02.3
7 Chris Atkinson (Aus) Subaru Impreza 20:39.5
8 Marcus Gronholm (Fin) Ford Focus RS 21:44.2
9 Toshi Arai (Jpn) Subaru Impreza 22:34.6
10 Ricardo Trivino (Mex) Peugeot 206 22:47.7
(after three rounds)
1 Sebastien Loeb (Fra) Citroen 26pts
2 Marcus Gronholm (Fin) Ford 21
3 Manfred Stohl (Aut) Peugeot 11
4 Petter Solberg (Nor) Subaru 8
5=Toni Gardemeister (Fin) Peugeot 6
5=Dani Sordo (Spa) Citroen 6
5=Daniel Carlsson (Swe) Mitsubishi 6
8=Henning Solberg (Nor) Peugeot 5
8=Chris Atkinson (Aus) Subaru 5
8=Gian-Luigi Galli (Ita) Mitsubishi 5
1 Ford 39pts
2 Citroen 34
3 Peugeot 21
4 Subaru 20
5 Skoda 3