Neuville wins from Breen in Sweden

Thierry Neuville scored a dominant performance on Rally Sweden, while Craig Breen took a career-best second. Neuville had controlled the rally from the first stage proper on Friday but a spin on Saturday morning's loop allowed Breen to close. Neuville then re-established his lead on Saturday afternoon and sealed victory by 19.8 seconds.

Rounding out the podium was Andres Mikkelsen. The third Hyundai of Hayden Paddon held fourth for most of the rally, but he was beaten to the position by the leading Toyota - the car that won last year's event in Jari-Matti Latvala's hands - of Esapekka Lappi on Sunday morning.

Lappi had been in a fight for the podium but a mistake on Friday left him scrabbling to rebound. He did so emphatically on Sunday morning, and was aided further by a Paddon trip into a snowbank on the powerstage. Lappi also claimed five points for the powerstage win to add to his comeback drive. Paddon did hold onto fifth despite his off, with Mads Ostberg close to usurping him.

Ostberg was making his debut in a C3 WRC and was in the top five for most of the event, but struggled for a consistent feel from him car and eventually reverted to his original set-up. Latvala was another driver who struggled with set-up and showed no sign of matching last year's winning performance. A front driveshaft issue did not help his cause on Friday, and he eventually finished seventh.

On his first outing in a modern World Rally Car this year, Teemu Suninen finished as the top M-Sport Ford Fiesta WRC driver, despite being ultra-critical of his own driving on his first outing in Sweden in modern machinery. Ott Tanak (Toyota) and Suninen's team-mate Sebastien Ogier both struggled with road sweeping on Friday and struggled to rebound.

Tanak did the best job, moving through the top 10 before he was caught behind the stalled Citroen of Kris Meeke on Saturday and dropped down to ninth, where he remained. Meeke retired after hitting a snow bank, followed by engine problems. Ogier took second on the powerstage, claiming four points, but was also hit with a penalty for being late to time control before the final stage. The penalty meant Ogier dropped to 11th and promoted team-mate Elfyn Evans into 10th, but Evans himself was later hit with a penalty - for being 26 minutes late to the time control holding area - which returned Ogier to the final points position.

Takamoto Katsuta earned WRC2 honours in a brilliant drive. The Finnish-based Japanese driver beat reigning champion Pontus Tidemand to the honours.

Top Ten Finishers
Pos Driver Team Car Gap
1 Thierry Neuville, N.Gilsoul Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT 2h52m13.1s
2 Craig Breen, S.Martin Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT 19.8s
3 Andreas Mikkelsen, A.Jager Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT 28.3s
4 Esapekka Lappi, J.Ferm Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT 45.8s
5 Hayden Paddon, S.Marshall Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT 54.4s
6 Mads Ostberg, T.Eriksen Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT 1m15.3s
7 Jari-Matti Latvala, M.Anttila Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT 2m04.9s
8 Teemu Suninen, M.Markkula M-Sport Ford WRT 2m52.2s
9 Ott Tanak, M.Jarveoja Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT 3m44.4s
10 Elfyn Evans, D.Barritt M-Sport Ford WRT 5m27.4s

Pos Driver Points
1 Thierry Neuville 41
2 Sebastien Ogier 31
3 Jari-Matti Latvala 23
4 Esapekka Lappi 23
5 Ott Tanak 21
6 Andreas Mikkelsen 21
7 Craig Breen 20
8 Kris Meeke 17
9 Hayden Paddon 10
10 Elfyn Evans 8

18th February, 2018

Lancia Fulvia wins 2018 Monte Historique

Perusing the eclectic range of cars and the broad international spectrum of competitors that filled the entry of the 21st running of the Monte Carlo Historique rally proved that the true spirit of the original event, first run in 1911, had been truly replicated by its 2018 historic parody, with crews from 8 nationalities filling the top ten overall positions in the final results.

Overall winners were the Italian crew of Gianmaria Aghem and Diego Cumino in a 1200 Lancia Fulvia, a car hardy carrying a surfeit of power for rallying in the Alpes Martimes. Second place was claimed by the Greek team of George Delaportas and Spyros Moustakas in a VW Golf GTI that had been previous rally leaders, and third place fell to the Polish Zastava 1100 of Stanislaw Postawa and Andrzej Postawka, another rally car not troubled by an excess of engine power.

For the record, the best placed IRDC members in 2018 were Zak Matten/Clifford Debeno in a Ford Escort RS 1600 in 43rd position, making them winners of the venerable IRDC Tyresoles Trophy. In second place was the sibling crew of Nick and Peter Moss 78th overall in their BMW 2002 TI and in third place Peter Barker with vastly experienced co-driver Peter Scott, 125th overall in a Triumph TR4. In the team contest, the 2 five-car IRDC teams finished 14th and 24th out of 25, this prestigious category won by the Italian Equipe Scuderia Milano Autostoriche, which included the overall rally winners. There were 259 rally finishers and 41 retirements.

13th February, 2018

Monte Carlo Historique 2018

Following close on the heels of last week's Monte Carlo Rally, the first round of the 2018 World Rally Championship, Monte Carlo Historique rally competitors departed a variety of international starting points on the 31st January and decend on the principality Sunday 4th February for three more days of testing stages in the Alpes Martimes to finish the 21st running of this popular event at Rally Headquarters in chic Monaco at 12:00 hrs Wednesday.

The International Rally Drivers Club has several teams competing on this challenging event and we extend our best wihse and good luck to them all.

2nd February, 2018

Ogier Wins Monte Carlo Rally from Ot Tanak

Sebastien Ogier scored a commanding victory on the 2018 Monte Carlo Rally, leading from the very start despite spinning on the first ice-affected stage and his advantage over 2017 WRC team-mate Ott Tanak seesaw'd across Friday and Saturday. Tanak started to claw back time immediately and over the course of the day brought the gap down from 1m18.4s at its largest point to 33.5s. Ogier then repeated his flying form on Sunday, topping the famous Col de Turini stage and beating Tanak on the next two stages.

By this point Tanak had settled for second and even though Ogier did not think he had the best tyres for the powerstage, he still did enough to beat Tanak to a bonus point in fifth. Survival then crept into the rest of the Toyota camp over the final two days of the event once it became clear third was the best possible result for Jari-Matti Latvala and Esapekka Lappi.

The two were embroiled in a close fight until Lappi ran wide into a snow bank and gave himself a puncture which freed up Latvala to run comfortably to third, while Lappi fought back to fourth after dropping behind Kris Meeke and was 18s clear of the Northern Irishman heading into the final run, despite losing several seconds on the penultimate stage with a visit into a snowbank at an icy hairpin.

Meeke's attention was now focused on keeping the recovering Elfyn Evans and Thierry Neuville at bay but a stunning run on the powerstage saw him quickest, ahead of both - and it soon got even better for the Citroen driver. With fourth place in sight, Lappi slid wide on his powerstage run and lost half a minute trying to get back onto the road which dropped him behind Meeke, who was delighted to inherit fourth and five powerstage bonus points from a "horrendous weekend"!

Neuville gained two places on the final stage after overhauling Evans, and his unexpected fifth place was reward for his relentless fightback after sliding into a ditch and losing four minutes on the first stage. Evans was disappointed to lose out to the Hyundai after staging his own recovery from a puncture and half-spin across the rally's first two stages. Neuville's fifth place and four bonus points for the second-best powerstage effort also meant Hyundai had more to show from the opening rally than looked likely at one stage of the event. Dani Sordo was in the final podium position until his rally was ended by an off into a ditch on Saturday's opener, while Andreas Mikkelsen dropped out of contention on Friday with an alternator problem but returned under Rally 2 rules and picked up three points with the third-best time on the powerstage.

At the foot of the leading WRC finishers were Bryan Bouffier, who had a spin on the final day, and Craig Breen, whose rally was ruined early with a brake problem. Completing the top 10 was Jan Kopecky, Skoda's dominant WRC2 class winner.

Leading finishers

Pos Driver Team Car Gap

1 Sebastien Ogier, J.Ingrassia M-Sport Ford WRT 4h18m55.5s
2 Ott Tanak, M.Jarveoja Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT 58.3s
3 Jari-Matti Latvala, M.Anttila Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT 1m52.0s
4 Kris Meeke, P.Nagle Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT 4m43.1s
5 Thierry Neuville, N.Gilsoul Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT 4m53.8s
6 Elfyn Evans, D.Barritt M-Sport Ford WRT 4m54.8s
7 Esapekka Lappi, J.Ferm Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT 4m57.5s
8 Bryan Bouffier, X.Panseri M-Sport Ford WRT 7m39.5s
9 Craig Breen, S.Martin Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT 9m06.7s
10 Jan Kopecky, P.Dresler Skoda Motorsport II 16m43.0s

28th January, 2018

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