Author Archives: Pierre Vella
The 2018 World Rally Championship is to launch at Autosport International ahead of the season-opener in Monte Carlo. It is the first time a top-tier FIA World Championship has launched at the show in its 27-year history.
All of the lead drivers, co-drivers and team principals will be in one place and on hand to talk about the 2017 championship and share their opinions on what the new season will bring across all four days of Europe’s biggest pre-season motorsport show at the NEC Birmingham from 11-14 January 2018.
Each manufacturer team contesting the 13 rounds of the 2018 season, Citroen, Hyundai, M-Sport and Toyota will parade their 2018 rally cars on the Autosport main stage across the Thursday of Autosport International in what will truly be a WRC takeover day. All of the cars will remain on display at the show throughout the weekend.
Recent Wales Rally GB winner Elfyn Evans supported the launch at Autosport International, outlining the benefits to fans as well as those inside the industry. Evans said: “The Autosport show is something that, certainly the likes of Kris [Meeke], Craig [Breen] and all of our co-drivers, have grown up with and it’s a good show in its own right. There’s a bit of everything from across all aspects of motorsport and for the World Rally Championship to be right at the heart of that is very good news.
“I’m looking forward to it. It’ll be good to do something a bit different and it’s a great chance for the fans to come over and have a look – it’s good for Britain to have a second major event in the WRC season.”
M-Sport Team principal Malcolm Wilson added his delighted to see the series being given a high-profile boost ahead of the opening round.
Wilson said: “I’ve been going to Autosport International since it began and it really is seen, industry-wide, as the start of the season, so to have an event with this sort of global reach is fantastic for the World Rally Championship. Coming at it from the other side, I’ve always championed more rally content at Autosport International and next year we’re going to have more than ever!
The 2017 WRC season saw some substantial revisions to the technical regulations aimed at improving the look and the performance of the cars, while allowing a greater degree of technical and design freedom for teams. The series is supported by the WRC 2 and WRC 3 championships with the Junior World Rally Championship at selected rounds. Sebastien Ogier and co-driver Julien Ingrassia successfully defended their WRC title at the last rally event – Wales Rally GB.
Visitors will be able to get up close to the cars, drivers and team personnel who will be at the show and on the Autosport stage to talk to host Henry Hope-Frost across the four day event.
A dedicated WRC stand at the show will be the perfect place for rally fans to get up to speed ahead of the 2018 WRC season, a little under two weeks after Autosport International. The Dayinsure Wales Rally GB stand will also form a significant part of the rally celebrations at the show, with cars and drivers from both the world and British Rally Championships present.
Autosport and Motorsport News Rally Editor David Evans said: “I’ve always seen Autosport International as the perfect place to launch the World Rally Championship, so I’m delighted to see these plans coming to fruition next year. As a journalist in the World Rally Championship, the opportunity to have all the teams, drivers, co-drivers, team principals and even some of the cast of the support series in one place two weeks ahead of the opening round of the 2018 season Monte Carlo, is manna from heaven. But as a member of Autosport and Motorsport News, it’s a with a huge sense of pride that we will all welcome the World Rally Championship to the NEC in January.
“Just three months after enjoying arguably the most thrilling Wales Rally GB ever, Britain will host the start of what’s certain to be another exceptionally competitive year. And, what’s even better is that fans can come along and see their heroes up close throughout the four days of Autosport International.”
Oliver Ciesla, WRC Promoter managing director said: “What better occasion to kick-off next year’s FIA World Rally Championship than at the fantastic Autosport International, which is rightly regarded as the start of the new motorsport season.
“It provides a wonderful opportunity to showcase the 2018 WRC, featuring the impressive World Rally Cars which have proved such a massive attraction to fans this year, and all the leading drivers from our manufacturer teams.
“Thursday at the show will truly be a WRC takeover, but fans attending later in the weekend will still have the opportunity to whet their appetite for the season ahead as the cars will remain on display and there will be plenty of driver appearances.”
Billy Monger will partner Terry Grant and the Mission Motorsport team performing a series of nail-biting stunts in the Live Action Arena across all four days at Autosport International.
Thanks to a progressive recovery and rehabilitation process, aided by Mission Motorsport, Monger will play a feature role in a variety of high-octane manoeuvres alongside a team of drivers from Mission Motorsport. Four Jaguar F-Type cars will take to the arena performing a set of dynamic stunts in front of a packed audience.
Mission Motorsport is a charity run by veterans, serving officers and motorsport professionals. It exists to aid the recovery and rehabilitation of those affected by military operations, by providing opportunities through Motorsport, that offers training, direct vocational support and assistance using the mantra – ‘Race, Retrain, Recover’.
The Live Action Arena is once again set to thrill, with a varied line-up of leading motorsport categories and competition drivers from across the world.
With the walls and ceiling keeping all those wonderful sounds and smells close-by, it is set to be an intense 60 minutes that can really only be described accurately as “petrolhead heaven”, offering an unrivalled variety of racing action, driving demonstrations, record-breaking stunts and celebrity interviews and appearances.
NASCAR is set to be another highlight, as fans will be able to see the extraordinary power of an American cup car showcased with 2000 NASCAR Winston Cup Series champion Bobby Labonte at the wheel.
Thrills and spills will come courtesy of a unique and thrilling drifting sequence, while present day Rallycross will be represented in a sequence that will see a Ford Fiesta World Rallycross car from XITE Racing, driven by racer Oliver Bennett, taking on a unique challenge which fans will not want to miss.
Crowds of all ages will witness further thrilling action as a variety of Ginetta racing cars will be put through their paces. The Ginetta Racing Drivers Club racers will have the opportunity to go head-to-head in what is sure to be a highly competitive race and showcase a variety of cars from the Ginetta stable.
Further high-octane action will come courtesy of Aston Martin, as the British firm will proudly parade its gorgeous Vantage in front of adoring fans. Always a crowd-favourite in the arena, more high-speed action will come from Autograss and the BriSCA F1 stock cars, who will be completing a series of showcase races and interview segments. Hosted by Sky F1 Lead Commentator, David Croft, alongside popular social media vlogger Shmee150.
Autosport International offers families the best live racing entertainment yet with shows in a 5,000-seater arena, all included with every ticket.
Autosport International Show Director Kate Woodley, said: “Mission Motorsport is a charity created to help the recovery of those affected by military operations through motorsport and we are delighted to have them, Terry and Billy conducting our stunt at this year’s show.
“With so many different aspects of motorsport represented, from the grassroots to the highly prestigious NASCAR series, we have some truly great and inspiring motorsport content to share with fans this week. There will be something for everyone.”
Motorsport Network is the world’s largest independent automotive and motorsport-related digital platform, connecting millions of people who love motorsport and cars. The network also creates key industry events including Autosport International and the annual Autosport Awards.
Season 4 of the FIA Formula E Championship continues this weekend as the series takes to the streets of Marrakesh (MAR). Formula E made its African debut at the “Circuit Automobile International Moulay El Hassan” last season, and the series now returns for its second appearance there. BMW works drivers António Félix da Costa (POR) and Tom Blomqvist (GBR) will race in Morocco for MS&AD Andretti Formula E.
The third round of the season in Morocco offers the chance for further good results to add to points earned in Hong Kong (HKG) for MS&AD Andretti Formula E. At the season opener, Félix da Costa finished sixth for the squad from Indianapolis (USA).
The MS&AD Andretti Formula E team is in its fourth season of Formula E in 2017/18. So far, Michael Andretti’s (USA) team has contested 35 races, claimed three pole positions, and scored 210 points. BMW works driver Félix da Costa is again in action at the wheel of the number 28 MS&AD Andretti ATEC-003 in Season 4. Joining the Portuguese driver in Marrakesh will be fellow BMW driver Blomqvist. He will make his debut in Morocco, driving car number 27.
Tom Blomqvist, MS&AD Andretti Formula E: “I am super happy and excited to be making my debut for MS&AD Andretti Formula E in Marrakesh. I feel as prepared as I can be with the limited time I’ve had testing in the car. It’s going to be a massive challenge, but I am up for it! I have to say thank you to MS&AD Insurance, BMW and Andretti for giving me this huge opportunity. I believe the FIA Formula E championship has a bright future and I’m so proud to be a part of it.”
António Félix da Costa, MS&AD Andretti Formula E: “I am really excited for Round 3 of what has started as a promising season. The team worked really hard through the Christmas break and we are really hungry for more this year. We don’t go into Marrakesh with huge expectations, but we want to do our best and give it everything we have to score points. It was really cool last year to go to Marrakesh for the first time during the United Nations Climate Change conference, which is incredibly important for our partners MS&AD Insurance, as it shows the impact that Formula E can have in the world.”
The race in Morocco is unique in Formula E, as the only event held on a semi-permanent racetrack. It is making its second appearance on the calendar, having also featured in Season 3. The layout was designed by Hermann Tilke, and is the longest on the calendar at 2.97km. Three big straights and the long, fast second turn, combined with the North African climate, make the track a challenge for battery economy, but heavy braking zones provide plenty of overtaking opportunity.
The BMW i Fleet
BMW i is once again “Official Vehicle Partner” of the FIA Formula E Championship in Season 4. The BMW i8 (combined fuel consumption: 2.1 l/100 km; combined CO2 emissions: 49 g/km)* continues to take to the track as a powerful and efficient Safety Car. The same goes for the new BMW i3s (combined energy consumption: 14.3 kWh; combined CO2 emissions: 0 g/km)* as “Medical Car” and “Race Control Car”, and the BMW X5 xDrive40e (combined fuel consumption: 3.4 – 3.3 l/100 km; combined CO2 emissions: 78 – 77 g/km)* in its role as “Rescue Car” and “Extrication Car”.
- Second stage win for Al Attiyah/Baumel
- Solid performance by De Villiers/Von Zitzewitz
- Good result for Ten Brinke/Périn despite two punctures
It was arguably the first opportunity for #Toyotagazoo #racing SA to measure its performance on Dakar 2018. The opening stage was too short, with lots of strategy at play; while Stage 2 saw Nasser Al Attiyah/Mathieu Baumel open the road, with the French navigator falling ill mid-stage. Bernhard ten Brinke/Michel Périn followed hot on the heels of their teammates, but only Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz were in a position to attack.
Stage 3, however, saw Al Attiyah starting in 7th place and the Qatari superstar quickly pounced. Together with Baumel, the pair attacked right from the start, pushing hard and making up time throughout the 296 km-long special stage. With that said, their blitzkrieg was hampered by two punctures, which cost them the best part of three minutes mid-stage.
“If it weren’t for the punctures, we would’ve been in an even stronger position,” said Al Attiyah from the bivouac at San Juan de Marcona. “But even so we are happy with today’s result, and we are now right back in the fight.”
Al Attiyah/Baumel completed Stage 3 04:05 ahead of Peugeot’s Stephane Peterhansel. Carlos Sainz (Peugeot) was third-fastest, and he was followed home by Cyril Despres and Sebastien Loeb, both also driving Peugeots.
“We had a strong start, and quickly caught up with Sebastien Loeb, who started three minutes ahead of us. This clearly showed that we had some pace, but Loeb’s dust made it tricky for us,” said De Villiers after finishing the stage. “In the end, there were some tricky spots, and we decided to back off a bit in the dust. Maybe we were too cautious, but we’re still very much in touch with the race, and there’s a lot of #racing to come.”
Further back, Dutch driver Ten Brinke, paired with French navigator Périn, had a solid day in the dunes, though they also suffered two punctures.
“The #Toyota Hilux performed extremely well in the sand,” said Ten Brinke from the bivouac. “But the reality is that we had no confidence in the roadbook, and couldn’t push as hard as we had wanted to.”
Ten Brinke/Périn finished the day with the 7th-fastest time on the stage, 8 minutes behind teammates De Villiers/Von Zitzewitz. In the overall standings, Peugeot’s Peterhansel still leads by 03:11 over his teammate Despres. Al Attiyah had leapfrogged into third place, 07:43 behind the leader. De Villiers dropped into 5th in the standings, but is only 01:12 behind Peugeot’s Loeb in 4th place. Ten Brinke is in 7th, 31:18 off the lead.
“Two stage wins in the first three stages sound like a fairy tale to me,” said #Toyotagazoo #racing SA Team Principal, Glyn Hall, after all three #Toyotagazoo #racing SA crews made it safely to the bivouac. “With that said, we could have been in a better position, were it not for Mathieu falling ill, and two of our crews suffering multiple punctures. But then the Dakar isn’t a race of ‘ifs’ and ‘maybes’ – it is a grueling event where every second won is ground out the hard way. We simply have to keep pushing as hard as we can, and today we saw that we certainly have the pace to take the fight to the competition.”
The Dakar bit hard over its opening stages, with American driver Bryce Menzies crashing out in his Mini; former #Toyotagazoo #racing SA driver Yazeed Al Rahji losing time after a mid-stage crash with another competitor; and Nani Roma rolling his Mini near the end of Stage 3. #Toyota Hilux driver Lucio Alvarez, with South African navigator Rob Howie beside him, also suffered a roll on Stage 2, but posted the 10th-fastest time on Stage 3.
Stage 4 is another looped stage, with the competitors returning to the bivouac at San Juan de Marcona after the stage. It features a novel start with four cars at a time lining up next to each other on the beach. When the flag drops, a mad dash for the first corner – nearly 40 km down the beach – will ensue, making for very exciting viewing.
The stage is 330 km in length, with a 114 km-liaison to the start. Some 57% of the route will take place on soft sand; 20% on dirt tracks; and the balance taking place over really rough and rocky terrain.
STAGE 3 RESULTS:
1 N. Al Attiyah (TOYOTA)
2 S. Peterhansel (Peugeot) +04:05
3 C. Sainz (Peugeot) +06:07
4 C. Despres (Peugeot) +07:43
5 S. Loeb (Peugeot) +08:34
6 G. De Villiers (TOYOTA) +10:11
7 B. Ten Brinke (TOYOTA) +18:07
8 M. Prokop (Ford) +18:56
9 J. Przygonski (Mini) +22:42
10 L. Alvarez (TOYOTA) +23:01
OVERALL STANDINGS AFTER STAGE 3:
1 S. Peterhansel (Peugeot) 06:34:58
2 C. Despreas (Peugeot) +03:11
3 N. Al Attiyah (TOYOTA) +07:43
4 S. Loeb (Peugeot) +10:11
5 G. De Villiers (TOYOTA) +11:23
6 C. Sainz (Peugeot) +14:47
7 B. Ten Brinke (TOYOTA) +31:18
8 O. Terranova (Mini) +35:19
9 M. Prokop (Ford) +38:56
10 N. Roma (Mini) +42:56