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Fri, 23 Feb 2018 - Kiwi co-driver to join Subaru Australia for Australian Rally Championship 

Top New Zealand co-driver Malcolm Read will head across the Tasman, joining Subaru do Motorsport, for the 2018 CAMS Australian Rally Championship with 2016 victor Molly Taylor.

Christchurch-based Read (29) will be the first Kiwi since the late Possum Bourne, who won the Australian Rally Championship seven times consecutively from 1996 to 2002. Five of the titles, were achieved with Bourne’s fellow New Zealander, Craig Vincent, in the co-driver’s seat.

Subaru Australia will again compete with an All-Wheel Drive Production Rally Car (PRC) class WRX STi, prepared by Les Walkden Rallying (LWR) over the expanded six-round series.

Following the decision of 2016 and 2017 Australian Rally Co-driver Champion Bill Hayes to step back from the factory team, Taylor has completed testing with respected Kiwi co-driver Read, ahead of the team’s debut on March 3-4 at Eureka Rally, Victoria - round one of the 2018 series.

Read says it was a great opportunity to be presented with: “Molly’s co-driver Bill approached me at Rally Australia last year saying ‘I’ve got an offer for you, let’s talk soon. Three weeks later Molly’s calling me. It was like an early Christmas present!”

Taylor was pleased to be able to find a co-driver of Read’s calibre to take Hayes’ place: “Bill has set the bar very high and we had to think long and hard about who could aspire to his level of ability and professionalism, but we’re confident we’ve found a great fit with Malcolm.”

“Just like Bill, he’s highly motivated and experienced and after testing this week in Tasmania, we’re quietly confident that we can produce the goods,” she says.

Read began rallying in 2004 and now has more than 100 events globally to his credit. Among his highest achievements as a co-driver are: 1st 2016,2015, 2014 FIA Asia Pacific Production Cup Championship 1st 2014 and 2013 FIA Asia Pacific 2WD Championship 1st 2013 FIA Asia Cup Championship

For Read it is an honour to be following in Bourne’s footsteps.

“Having grown up watching Possum in the Australian Rally Championship, it was something I’ve always wanted to do but to be teamed up with Molly and Subaru Australia just makes it extra special,” he says.

Subaru of New Zealand Managing Director Wallis Dumper says Read’s co-driving call-up is a great example of how the Kiwi car brand has always collaborated with its Australian equivalent.

“Although our Subaru markets are completely separate, we have obvious synergies with Subaru being such a popular brand Down Under, meaning that we are both strong sellers for Subaru globally. In terms of rallying, we have a wealth of heritage going back to the Possum Bourne days, where he started out in a Subaru RX and then drove a Legacy RS, Impreza WRX, Impreza WRC and Impreza WRX STi during his stellar career.”

A big focus for Taylor and Read’s team in 2018 is finding efficiencies in the turbocharged WRX STi, to remain competitive against the increasing prevalence of lightweight AP4 cars in the Championship.

With prime challengers Harry Bates (Toyota) and Eli Evans (Mini Cooper) both opting for AP4, Taylor says every bit of weight saving and efficiency that can be gained from the WRX STI is being considered by the brains trust at LWR.

“It’s a shame 2017 champion Nathan Quinn won’t be competing this year, however the field is shaping up to be bigger and more competitive yet again,” says Taylor.

Managing Director of Subaru Australia Colin Christie,says: “After just missing out on the Championship in 2017, Molly and Malcolm are on a mission to restore Subaru honours this year.”

“Les Walkden and the LWR crew are focused on ensuring the WRX STi is as lean and mean as can be.”

“With many new variations both within our own team and the series, it’s going to make it an intriguing season all round.”

Round 1 of the championship, The Courier Eureka Rally, Ballarat, on March 3 to 4, covers 16 stages over 212.52 competitive kilometres.

Tue, 20 Feb 2018 - Huge learning as Holder and Farmer successfully finish Rally Sweden

A baptism by snow bank describes Dave Holder and Jason Farmer’s debut in the FIA Junior World Rally Championship at Rally Sweden.

The New Zealanders, from Mount Maunganui and Hamilton respectively, finished the high speed, winter rally and thus achieved their primary goal. To finish ninth among the 13-strong JWRC field, all in identical Ford Fiesta R2 EcoBoost rally cars, was a respectable achievement although Holder is the first to admit the pace of the front-running JWRC competitors was very different to his own.

There were challenges aplenty, especially the snow banks, for the 2016 New Zealand Rally Champions as they tackled a snow rally for the first time, but there were also plenty of positives to take from their first weekend of international competition.

“First, that we finished the event,” said Holder. “To record a finish was our number one aim. We also learnt a massive amount about the travel and logistics of how things work on these events.

“We’ve certainly got plenty to work on. We finished ninth in class, which is nothing special, but it is a finish. We completed every one of the 19 stages. We worked well in the car together. Now we start focusing on the next rally and do our best from there.”

Friday ended up being the most positive day for the all-Kiwi crew, despite getting stuck in a couple of snow banks during the day’s seven stages. Holder said: “Each stage we’re improving in terms of driving and notes. Whether it’s reflected in the stage times, maybe not so much, but certainly the feeling in the car is getting better each stage.”

Saturday, the pair aimed for a consistent, clean run throughout the day. “We started out well in SS9, nice and tidy, good feeling in the car, felt nice and smooth, easy pace. Unfortunately, in SS10 we went off on a fast right-hand, just clipped a snow bank, which spun us around 360 degrees. The car did a big pirouette in the air and fortunately landed back down on the wheels. We did a 20-point turn and carried on, but it knocked my confidence.”

Getting stuck in another snow bank on the repeat run of that stage didn’t make it any easier for Holder, but he did his best to continue with his goal of a steady, consistent drive.

With just three special stages to run on Sunday, they decided to just get through the rest of the event to the finish. “The times were really slow, but that’s what we decided we needed to do to get home and tick that box. Later we worked out that we’d had a bent rear suspension from Saturday’s spin so that had unsettled the car and contributed to us losing a lot of our confidence yesterday and today.”

Holder added: “Congrats to the local drivers Dennis Rådström and Emil Bergqvist for topping the JWRC results – they’re ridiculously fast, there’s no denying that. We’d like to say a big thanks to everyone back home for their support, messages and videos from stages. It’s nice to know New Zealand rally fans are behind us. We’re really grateful to get through the event and to have the opportunity to learn so much. Jase and I are looking forward to more to come and producing some more results in the future.”

Holder and Farmer return to New Zealand to continue their preparation for the April JWRC round on the French island of Corsica.

Holder acknowledges the continued support of Mt Wheel Alignment, Chicane Racewear, Magnum Compliance, Farmline Machinery, Mt Bikes, KPMG Tauranga, Cooney Lees Morgan, Bell Booth, Thurlow Building & Construction, Monit Rally Computers and Amplified Customs.

Mon, 19 Feb 2018 - Top five finish in Sweden for Paddon

Kiwi rally driver Hayden Paddon got his 2018 FIA World Rally Championship season underway with a strong top five finish with co-driver Seb Marshall at Rally Sweden, which wrapped up on Sunday 18 February (European time).

The pair held fourth place overall for most of the second and final days of action on the WRC’s only snow rally in their Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC. However an error, described by Paddon as annoying, on the rally’s 19th and final stage, combined with the pace of fifth-placed Esapekka Lappi meant Lappi took fourth in the final rally standings, dropping Paddon into fifth.

Paddon and Marshall took many positives from their first outing on snow together – on Friday their pace netted them two stage wins, they were in podium contention and the top three, four or five overall for most of the rally, and Paddon knows what he wants to work on before his next event with Hyundai Motorsport in Portugal in May.

The rally got underway on Thursday with the 1.9km Karlstad stadium super special stage – Paddon and Marshall set the seventh quickest time.

Running 11th on the road for Friday’s seven stages where fresh snowfall challenged those running earlier in the road order, Paddon and Marshall took a steady approach in the morning loop to hold a steady eighth on the leader-board by the midday service. They then delivered two stage wins during the afternoon loop in tricky conditions to leap up the standings to fifth and then third overall behind their Hyundai team-mates Thierry Neuville and Andreas Mikkelsen.

Paddon said: “Our objective today was to get the rhythm back. The conditions were not easy. We had to be conscious of keeping the car in the lines, and adapting both the car and my driving to suit the stages. The ruts became really pronounced in the afternoon loop. If you go outside of the lines, you become a passenger in your own car, so we had to pull back a bit at times. The road position has helped but we wanted to have a sensible approach to the day, and a clean run, which we have had. There is room for improvement, but the positions are encouraging and there’ll be more to give tomorrow.”

A patient and consistent approach to Saturday’s eight special stages kept Paddon and Marshall in the top-four mix. In dry conditions with no fresh snow, Paddon balanced his chosen setup of his Hyundai i20 WRC with the road conditions post competitive stage times during the afternoon’s repeated loop to consolidate his fourth place overall going into Sunday’s final short day of action. He finished the day 48.6s off Hyundai team-mate and rally leader Thierry Neuville, and 16.6s behind his other team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen who holds third place.

Paddon said: “Not quite the day we wanted but we are still enjoying ourselves and doing the best we can. We started the morning loop knowing that we would be playing a waiting game. The way that the car has been set up for my driving meant we had to find a compromise between my own confidence and the outright performance in those first stages. The wider lines on the roads in the afternoon played more to my strengths, so we had to be patient and wait for the stages to come to us. We were definitely more comfortable to push in the repeat loop. It was fantastic to see so many fans enjoying the stages, especially through Colin’s Crest. Unfortunately, we lost a little time stuck in a snow bank on the final stage, but we are still in a good position to push on tomorrow.”

Starting Sunday’s final three stages ninth on the road, Paddon and Marshall set the eighth and then fourth quickest times through the repeated Likenãs stage. Going into the final stage in fourth place overall, a small error from Paddon combined with the pace of fifth-placed Esapekka Lappi meant Lappi took fourth place in the final rally standings,

Paddon said: “An annoying end to what had been a generally positive weekend for us. It was just a small mistake in the Power Stage, which stalled the car and lost us too much time to defend our fourth place. It is what it is. We have plenty of positives to take away from the event and I am looking forward to continuing this trend in my next WRC event in Portugal. I’m happy to have been part of this competitive rally for the team and I can’t wait to get back behind the wheel.”

Hyundai team-mate Thierry Neuville won the rally, while Andreas Mikkelsen was third, consolidating a very good weekend for Hyundai Motorsport to move them into the lead of the WRC manufacturers’ championship, and Neuville into the lead of the drivers’ championship. Paddon returns to New Zealand to contest some New Zealand Rally Championship events before returning to WRC action in May in Portugal.

Paddon and Hayden Paddon RallySport Global (HPRG) Ltd appreciate the support of their exclusive partners, Hyundai New Zealand, Pak’nSave, Winmax Brake Pads and Z Energy. ENDS/

Mon, 19 Feb 2018 - Rally Sweden – Day Three Report
Hyundai Motorsport has secured its maiden win of the 2018 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) with a confident victory in Rally Sweden
Thierry Neuville won the rally by 19.8-seconds with fellow Hyundai Motorsport driver Andreas Mikkelsen taking his first podium for the team in third. Hayden Paddon finished fifth
Hyundai Motorsport leads the Manufacturers’ Championship with 54 points, while Neuville tops the drivers’ standings on 41.

Torsby, Sweden

February 18, 2018 – Hyundai Motorsport has claimed its first-ever victory on the snowy stages of Rally Sweden as Thierry Neuville led a team 1-3-5 result in the second round of the 2018 FIA World Rally Championship.

The Belgian, along with co-driver Nicolas Gilsoul, has been on imperious form all weekend, taking five of the team’s eight stage wins and adopting an intelligent approach to the event. Edging into the lead after Friday’s Svullrya stage (SS3), the #5 crew never relinquished their advantage over their rivals.

Ultimately, it was Citroën’s Craig Breen who finished in the runner-up spot ahead of the Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team crew of Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jæger.

Third place for Mikkelsen ensured a double podium success for the team in Sweden, as well as the Norwegian’s first top-three finish as a Hyundai Motorsport driver in his fifth WRC event with the team.

Suspenseful Sunday

Sunday’s final stages were full of tension and drama. Two attempts at the 21.19km Likenäs stage acted as a suspenseful forerunner to the rally’s Power Stage, a comparatively short 9.56km run at Torsby.

One of the closest battles on the final morning was between Paddon and Toyota Gazoo Racing driver Esapekka Lappi with just 2.9-seconds dividing the two crews heading into the final stage. Unfortunately, a small off and an engine stall prevented Paddon from retaining his place, as the resultant time loss dropped him to fifth overall.

Mikkelsen secured third in the Power Stage to score three additional driver points, while Neuville added two extra points to his victory tally. The Belgian now sits atop the drivers’ championship with Hyundai Motorsport leading the way in the manufacturers’ standings.

Crew Notes: Neuville/Gilsoul (#5 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)

Seventh WRC victory and first of the 2018 season
Five stage wins recorded on way to team’s first-ever win in Sweden

Neuville said: “An incredible result! We had a disappointing start to the season in Monte-Carlo, but we didn’t let that get us down. We kept focused and targeted a strong result here in Sweden. We knew the competition would be tough for the win but we came here with the objective to bounce back, and we did that perfectly. We didn’t expect to take the lead so early in the weekend, so we have had to be clever to defend the gap at times, and then increase it when we could. I felt we deserved the win last year, but perhaps even more so this weekend. I was never going to push in the Power Stage because the victory meant too much to risk, so to come away with two extra points is great. We’re now leading the championship, so our 2018 campaign is back on track. Thanks to everyone in the team. We have many people working tirelessly every day behind the scenes to give us a competitive car, one with which we can fight for victories like this. This win is for all of them; it’s been a fantastic weekend for us.”

Crew Notes: Mikkelsen/Jæger (#4 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)

Trouble-free run to third place on final morning with four Power Stage points
First podium in fifth WRC event for Hyundai Motorsport

Mikkelsen said: “It is a fantastic feeling to be standing on the podium for the first time with Hyundai Motorsport. We have had a pretty solid weekend and enjoyed a clean final morning. I wanted to give a push in the Power Stage but it’s always a fine line as we definitely didn’t want to risk our podium. In the end, we took three points and third place overall, which is very encouraging. More than that, it has been an excellent weekend for the team as a whole, and our congratulations go to Thierry and Nicolas on a tremendous result. It’s wonderful to be able to share in this success, and to see the team at the top of the championship, even at this early stage in the season.”

Crew Notes: Paddon/Marshall (#6 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)

Lost time in Power Stage dropped crew to fifth overall
Two stage wins during the weekend with lots of positives to take away

Paddon said: “An annoying end to what had been a generally positive weekend for us. It was just a small mistake in the Power Stage, which stalled the car and lost us too much time to defend our fourth place. It is what it is. We’re not in the championship hunt this season so whether it’s fourth or fifth doesn’t really matter greatly. We have plenty of positives to take away from the event and I am looking forward to continuing this trend in my next WRC event in Portugal. I’m happy to have been part of this competitive rally for the team and I can’t wait to get back behind the wheel.”

First one of the season

Debut victory for Hyundai Motorsport in Rally Sweden
Eighth WRC win and ninth double podium in team’s history

Team Principal Michel Nandan commented: “This has been a fantastic rally for our team and it’s a great feeling to score our maiden win of the 2018 season. After the disappointment of Monte, we really needed to fight back and to score a good haul of manufacturer points. Thierry and Nicolas have been on top form all weekend, and they thoroughly deserve this result. As a team, we have performed strongly, which is reflected in the 1-3-5 results. Congratulations to Andreas and Anders on their debut podium with our team, the first of many we hope! Hayden and Seb also had a strong weekend to finish in a fighting fifth, despite their late drama in the Power Stage. I have said many times that the competition in WRC is the toughest and closest it has been for years, so we can’t take this result for granted. Mexico will offer a completely different set of challenges, so the battle lines will be redrawn. For now, though, we’ll celebrate this victory, double podium and positive all-round team result.”

Next Rally

Round three of the 2018 WRC season takes place in Mexico from 8-11 March
First gravel round of the championship where Hyundai Motorsport has twice finished on the podium (2014/2017)


Final Overall Classification - Rally Sweden

1
T. Neuville
N. Gilsoul
Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC
2:52:13.1

2
C. Breen
S. Martin
Citroën C3 WRC
+19.8

3
A. Mikkelsen
A. Jæger
Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC
+28.3

4
E. Lappi
J. Ferm
Toyota Yaris WRC
+45.8

5
H. Paddon
S. Marshall
Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC
+54.4

6
M. Østberg
T. Eriksen
Citroën C3 WRC
+1:15.3

7
J. M. Latvala
M. Anttila
Toyota Yaris WRC
+2:04.9

8
T. Suninen
M. Markkula
Ford Fiesta WRC
+2:52.2

9
O. Tänak
M. Järveoja
Toyota Yaris WRC
+3:44.4

10
E. Evans
D. Barritt
Ford Fiesta WRC
+5:27.4
Sun, 18 Feb 2018 - Rally Sweden – Day Two Report
Hyundai Motorsport has extended its lead of Rally Sweden to 22.7-seconds with all three Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC cars still inside the top-four overall
Thierry Neuville scored four stage wins on Saturday to build a buffer to his nearest rival, Craig Breen, as he chases his first victory of 2018
Andreas Mikkelsen still has his sights set on the podium, just 9.3s behind Breen, and ahead of Hayden Paddon in fourth place.

Torsby, Sweden

February 17, 2018 – Hyundai Motorsport continues to lead Rally Sweden, the second round of the 2018 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC), after a measured performance on the penultimate day.

Thierry Neuville continued where he left off on Friday evening, defending his lead during the morning stages before extending his advantage with an assured afternoon loop. The Belgian will begin the final morning with a 22.7-second gap to second-placed Craig Breen.

All three Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC crews remain in the hunt for competitive finishes this weekend with Andreas Mikkelsen and Hayden Paddon holding strong third and fourth spots. There are just over nine seconds between Citroën’s Breen and Mikkelsen, setting up a tantalising final morning.

Saturday’s action took place on classic Swedish roads near to Hagfors, covering a total special stage distance of 120.31km. The 19.88km Torntop stage returned to the itinerary for the first time since 2014, when Hyundai Motorsport first contested Rally Sweden.

Spinning around

Crews also tackled the iconic Colin’s Crest jump in the 14.21km Vargåsen stage, with Neuville offering one of the most spectacular sights of the day! Two shorter stages brought the day to a thrilling conclusion with a Super Special Stage in Karlstad (1.90km) and the Torsby Sprint (3.43km) close to the Service Park.

The morning loop wasn’t without its problems for the Hyundai Motorsport trio, as both Neuville and Mikkelsen endured spins on SS10 (Hagfors 1). Paddon, meanwhile, opted for a cautious approach to the opening stages. All three crews increased their pace in the afternoon.

Neuville took four stage wins (SS11 Vargåsen, SS13 Hagfors 2, SS14 Vargåsen 2 and SS16 Torsby Sprint), backed up by Mikkelsen and Paddon with all three cars inside the top-four during the repeat loop. Hyundai Motorsport has amassed eight stage wins across all three crews so far this weekend, including four stage 1-2s and a stage 1-2-3. Last season, the team secured seven stage wins in Sweden.

Crew Notes: Neuville/Gilsoul (#5 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)

Crew has led rally since SS3 and holds 22.7s advantage over Craig Breen
Four stage wins on Saturday including jaw-dropping jump over Colin’s Crest

Neuville said: “Things have gone pretty much to plan today and we can be pleased with our day overall. We had a bit of a stressful start this morning after a technical issue in the first stage and a spin in the second, which cost us some time. After that, though, we were able to increase the gap stage by stage. In the afternoon, we took six tyres compared to Craig’s five so we knew we’d lose a bit initially with the extra weight, but we then had fresher tyres for later in the loop. We gave a big push through SS13 and SS14, as we’re involved in a very close fight. We scored more stage wins, which was a nice reward for our efforts. I actually touched the inside bank of the Colin’s Crest jump, which created some exciting images for the fans. I think Colin himself would have called that ‘a little moment’ but we were still able to register the fastest time. We took things a bit steadier in the final stages and we are now prepared to fight for victory on Sunday morning.”

Crew Notes: Mikkelsen/Jæger (#4 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)

Spin in SS10 lost 15 seconds as Norwegians battle for top-three
Second in SS13/SS14 supported double Hyundai Motorsport 1-2 in stage

Mikkelsen said: “It has been a day of two halves. The morning loop could have been better. We had a spin in SS10, the second stage of the day, and lost around 15 seconds. We touched a bank and had to reverse out, which was easier said than done, as it was a narrow section of road. We made some set-up adjustments at lunchtime service to find a similar feeling to yesterday, making the car less stiff in a bid to find more traction. The afternoon was a lot cleaner as a result with some improved times. Hayden has been pushing, so we have done the same to try and defend our third place. There is an almost ten-second time deficit to Craig, with three stages left on Sunday, but we’ll give it a good go. It’s not impossible.”

Crew Notes: Paddon/Marshall (#6 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)

Patient start to the day paid dividends with competitive afternoon loop
Fourth place overall helps set Hyundai Motorsport up for strong finish on Sunday

Paddon said: “Not quite the day we wanted but we are still enjoying ourselves and doing the best we can. We started the morning loop knowing that we would be playing a waiting game. The way that the car has been set up for my driving meant we had to find a compromise between my own confidence and the outright performance in those first stages. The wider lines on the roads in the afternoon played more to my strengths, so we had to be patient and wait for the stages to come to us. We were definitely more comfortable to push in the repeat loop. It was fantastic to see so many fans enjoying the stages, especially through Colin’s Crest. Unfortunately, we lost a little time stuck in a snow bank on the final stage, but we are still in a good position to push on tomorrow.

Eyes on the prize

Team Principal Michel Nandan commented: “We head into Saturday evening in a very competitive position with Thierry leading, Andreas in third and Hayden just behind in fourth. I wouldn’t say we are in a comfortable situation because, as we know too well, anything can happen on the final day of a rally. However, I think we are giving a good account of ourselves here and I’m pleased with how things have gone today. Of course, there have been a few issues. The same is true for almost everybody but I think we have seen a representative performance from the Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC and from our three crews. I’m eager to see what we can deliver in the final stages of the rally. The gap to second is not insurmountable. It’s going to be exciting for the fans, and most likely nerve-wracking for us!”

Sunday’s itinerary at a glance

Three stages remain on Rally Sweden’s 19-stage itinerary, a total of just 51.94km
Two runs of the 21.19km Likenäs test will be followed by a repeat of the 9.56km Torsby stage, initially contested on Friday when Hyundai Motorsport registered a 1-2-3 finish
With each of the three stages spread out over the course of Sunday morning, it promises to be a tense finish to the rally.

Classification after Day Two


1
T. Neuville
N. Gilsoul
Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC
2:23:23.8

2
C. Breen
S. Martin
Citroën C3 WRC
+22.7

3
A. Mikkelsen
A. Jæger
Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC
+32.0

4
H. Paddon
S. Marshall
Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC
+48.6

5
M. Østberg
T. Eriksen
Citroën C3 WRC
+56.8

6
E. Lappi
J. Ferm
Toyota Yaris WRC
+1:05.8

7
J. M. Latvala
M. Anttila
Toyota Yaris WRC
+2:03.3

8
T. Suninen
M. Markkula
Ford Fiesta WRC
+2:20.5

9
O. Tänak
M. Järveoja
Toyota Yaris WRC
+3:41.3

10
S. Ogier
J. Ingrassia
Ford Fiesta WRC
+4:24.9
Sat, 17 Feb 2018 - Rally Sweden – Day One Report
Hyundai Motorsport has ended the first full day of action at Rally Sweden, the second round of the 2018 FIA World Rally Championship, holding an encouraging 1-2-3 overall
Thierry Neuville leads the classification by 4.9 seconds from Andreas Mikkelsen in second with Hayden Paddon in third, just 12.1s from his team-mate’s lead
All three Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team crews secured stage wins on Friday, and ended the day with a 1-2-3 in the final stage.

Torsby, Sweden

February 16, 2018 – Hyundai Motorsport has completed a competitive opening day of action in Rally Sweden, round two of the 2018 FIA World Rally Championship, with its crews leading an incredibly close battle among the WRC field.

At the end of Friday’s action, a total of 140km of tricky snowy stages, Thierry Neuville and co-driver Nicolas Gilsoul find themselves top of the table with a slender 4.9-second margin over their team-mates Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jæger in second and Hayden Paddon/Seb Marshall in third.

Friday’s action consisted of three stages run twice – the 21.26km Hof-Finnskog, 24.88km Svullrya and 19.13km Röjden tests – and a shorter 9.56km stage in Torsby to finish the day. Stages crossed over the Sweden-Norway border, offering a home flavour for Mikkelsen and Jæger, with a lunchtime service in the Swedish service park at Torsby splitting the two loops.

Fresh snowfall made life difficult for those running earlier on the road order, with few visible lines available to negotiate the treacherous stages. Still, conditions were tricky for everyone with most crews content to make it to the end of the day.

The Hyundai Motorsport crews completed Friday’s itinerary in style with a stage 1-2-3 in Torsby, led by Paddon, the team’s first stage lockout with three cars since Rallye Monte-Carlo 2016. Each of the three crews had already registered a stage win earlier in the day with Neuville quickest in SS3, Mikkelsen in SS4 and Paddon in SS5.

At this early stage in a notoriously difficult rally, the team is keeping its expectations in check and with its focus firmly on another trouble-free day on Saturday.

Crew Notes: Neuville/Gilsoul (#5 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)

Stage win in SS3 (Svullrya) moved Belgians into the lead
Stayed in lead for rest of the day, gradually building up their advantage to 4.9 seconds

Neuville said: “What a day! We have just tried to stay focused on the job and doing what we can from our middle road position. We set ourselves the goal being consistent and fast, not making any mistakes. The car has felt good, the settings were spot on and I have felt comfortable. The cars at the front have suffered a bit in the snowy conditions. Every time I pushed I felt that I was creating faster lines for the guys behind to follow, so it was a tricky balance. To have finished the day with all three Hyundai i20 Coupe WRCs in the top-three is a good morale boost, but we know there is a long way to go. We are trying to fight for victory here, but we’ll have to see what we can do tomorrow.”

Crew Notes: Mikkelsen/Jæger (#4 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)

Stage win in SS4 (Röjden), the Norwegian crews tenth in total for Hyundai Motorsport
Second overall between their team-mates as part of Hyundai Motorsport 1-2-3

Mikkelsen said: “We have made a good start and for sure it’s great to see all three Hyundai Motorsport crews in the top-three at the end of Friday. We used the morning loop to build our confidence and rhythm. We were able to get better stage-by-stage, culminating in a stage win before lunchtime service. I have been really pleased with our progression. Of course there is no question that the guys first on the road have a disadvantage, but it’s still tricky even for us running later. We took things a bit carefully in places. We have one notch in reserve if we need it, but that brings its own risks. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed driving at home with the stages in Norway today, and I hope that support can see us to a good result come Sunday afternoon.”

Crew Notes: Paddon/Marshall (#6 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)

First WRC event for crew since scoring a podium in Australia 2017
Two stage wins (SS5/SS8) and top-three in classification, 12.1s from lead

Paddon said: “It is great to be back for our first WRC event of 2018. Our objective today was to get the rhythm back. The conditions were not easy. We had to be conscious of keeping the car in the lines, and adapting both the car and my driving to suit the stages. The ruts became really pronounced in the afternoon loop. If you go outside of the lines, you become a passenger in your own car, so we had to pull back a bit at times. The road position has helped but we wanted to have a sensible approach to the day, and a clean run, which we have had. There is room for improvement, but the positions are encouraging and there’ll be more to give tomorrow.”

Three of a kind

Team Principal Michel Nandan commented: “We have seen some tricky Rally Sweden conditions today and from our team’s perspective it has been a strong start to the weekend. We have to acknowledge that road position has played its part with the earlier cars disadvantaged compared to those running later in the order. Having said that, it was a challenging day for all crews regardless of starting position. We wanted to get all three of our cars to the end of Friday with no problems, and we’ve achieved that. The fact we are currently leading the rally with a 1-2-3 is an added bonus but not something we are getting carried away with. It has been incredibly close today and I expect that to continue. One bad stage and you can lose many positions on the standings, so we have to remain vigilant and keep concentrated on each stage as it comes.”

Saturday’s itinerary at a glance

Eight stages will be contested on Saturday, including a repeat loop of the 19.68km Torntorp, 23.40km Hagfors and 14.21km Vargåsen stages.
The highlight of the day’s action will be the thrilling Colin’s Crest jump in the Vargåsen stage, where crews will endeavour to record the furthest distance.
The final two stages of the day will be the shorter 1.90km Super Special in Karlstad, first run on Thursday evening, and the 3.43km Torsby Sprint.
All in all, a total of 120.31km of special stages will be held on the penultimate day with plenty more snowy action forecast.


Classification after Day One


1
T. Neuville
N. Gilsoul
Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC
1:16:13.1

2
A. Mikkelsen
A. Jæger
Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC
+4.9

3
H. Paddon
S. Marshall
Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC
+12.1

4
C. Breen
S. Martin
Citroën C3 WRC
+12.6

5
M. Østberg
T. Eriksen
Citroën C3 WRC
+13.2

6
T. Suninen
M. Markkula
Ford Fiesta WRC
+29.6

7
E. Lappi
J. Ferm
Toyota Yaris WRC
+38.5

8
J. M. Latvala
M. Anttila
Toyota Yaris WRC
+1:06.2

9
O. Tänak
M. Järveoja
Toyota Yaris WRC
+1:29.0

10
K. Meeke
P. Nagle
Citroën C3 WRC
+1:43.6
Mon, 12 Feb 2018 - Holder and Farmer make JWRC debut in Sweden

Mount Manganui’s Dave Holder and his co-driver Jason Farmer, from Hamilton, get their 2018 FIA Junior World Rally Championship season underway in stunning snow conditions at Rally Sweden which runs 15-18 February.

The pair are the first New Zealanders to compete in the JWRC which takes in five key European events – the opening JWRC round in Sweden, Corsica (France) in April, Portugal in May, Finland in July and the unknown roads of Turkey in September.

The only all-Kiwi crew in the WRC this season, Holder and Farmer’s debut WRC event will test the 2016 New Zealand Rally Champions.

“It’s been a really busy build-up to our international debut in all areas,” says 29-year-old Holder, who’s been in northern Europe since late January acclimatising to the below zero temperatures. “The rally presents more logistical challenges than we’re used to in New Zealand, so I arrived in Sweden a few days early to get my head around it all. That way Jason and I can focus properly on rally week with minimal stress. I’ve taken lots of advice about what to expect on a snow event, such as needing CO2 canisters in the car, to inflate tyres between stages, as the cold temperatures can see them drop too low on touring. We also carry snow shovels in the car in case we get stuck in one of the infamous snow banks.”

Holder has made a significant personal investment to prepare as well as he can for what will be his most demanding season of rally competition yet – five very different WRC events, all of which are new to him. Part of his Swedish rally preparation included a day at a winter rally school in Norway.

“Being on a frozen lake with nothing to hit but snow meant I could push way past the limit and not worry about damaging the car...it was also a lot of fun! Little details like feeling how the car behaved when you became stuck in the snow banks was good to experience. The instructor John Haugland provided expert tuition encompassing all aspects of competing on a snow event; it’s been very important for our leadup to the rally.”

The previous week saw Holder and Farmer participate in the official pre-season test with M-Sport Poland who are the JWRC category managers, responsible for building, preparing and running the identical Ford Fiesta R2 EcoBoost rally cars for all 14 JWRC competitors.

“It was great to get half a day in the car with the team! Although it wasn’t on snow as we’d hoped, that was probably an advantage in the end as we just focused on the car setup, rather than having to learn how to drive on snow/ice at the same time. It was also my first time back in a front-wheel-drive car for a while, but I was pleasantly surprised that the feeling came back pretty quickly.”

Holder feels good about working with M-Sport. “Everything about how they operate is very professional which means we can just focus on our job. The guys also have a great sense of humour, so I’m sure we can share some laughs alongside the learning this year!”

Farmer also valued the opportunity to test with the team. “It was fantastic to finally get to sit in the Fiesta,” says the 37-year-old. “It’s a great little car and although there was no snow we got some valuable seat time. It is awesome working with such a professional team.”

In terms of the rally itself, Holder aims to bank as much experience as possible on the three-day, 19-stage event based in Torsby, 400km northwest of Stockholm. “It’s cliché, but our main aim is simply to finish our first event. We’ll take a conservative approach and focus on driving clean and tidy everywhere. We won’t be looking at stage times, so we don’t add any extra pressure or get drawn into an early battle with our competitors. If we stay out of trouble all rally and adapt quickly, then you just never know where we might end up.”

During the early part of this week, the pair have the reconnaissance runs through each stage. “This recce will be the most important and challenging that I’ve done in my career,” Holder says. “Reading the snow/ice condition changes will be tough and we also need to write our notes to suit driving in the dark on a number of occasions. We don’t want to get stuck and waste precious time during recce either.”

Delivering the pace notes on a snow rally for the first time, particularly with Sweden being one of the fastest WRC rallies, is just one of the challenges Farmer faces. “Stepping up to the WRC is quite daunting. The regulations and rules are so much more involved than our national championship. I have been lucky enough to have both John Kennard and Seb Marshall help me out whenever I have any sticky questions, and I’m really looking forward to the challenge of competing on snow. It’s something that has been on my bucket list so to finally be able to do it is awesome.”

While preparing for his debut in Sweden, Holder has continued to work hard to find the funding for the remaining four events. “We’ve been working our butts off behind the scenes to fund this campaign, my wife Adina and I have made a big commitment to make this a reality. Fortunately, we have the support of a fantastic team of people. The campaign is funded for this event in Sweden and our team has developed a number of new funding programmes aimed at ensuring we can compete this season and beyond towards a full WRC drive. Details will be released soon.”

Holder acknowledges the continued support of Mt Wheel Alignment, Chicane Racewear, Magnum Compliance, Farmline Machinery, Mt Bikes, KPMG Tauranga, Cooney Lees Morgan, Bell Booth, Thurlow Building & Construction, Monit Rally Computers and Amplified Customs. More information about Holder’s world rallying journey can be found on a new website, www.daveholderrally.com or their social media channels: https://www.facebook.com/DaveHolderRally/, https://twitter.com/DaveHolderRally and https://www.instagram.com/daveholderrally/. ENDS

Sat, 10 Feb 2018 - Hyundai Motorsport Preview: Rally Sweden
Hyundai Motorsport targets competitive fight-back at Rally Sweden, the second event of the 13-round FIA World Rally Championship
Hayden Paddon set for his first WRC event of the season as he takes charge of the #6 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC with co-driver Seb Marshall
Hyundai Motorsport Driver development Program (HMDP) driver Jari Huttunen ready for WRC2 debut.

Alzenau, Germany

February 9, 2018 – Hyundai Motorsport will be hoping to get its 2018 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) back on track next weekend as it tackles the second round of the season, Rally Sweden.

Despite showing glimpses of potential in Rallye Monte-Carlo, the team left the Principality with a disappointing fifth place finish, as all three of its Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC cars ran into trouble over the course of the weekend.

Salvaging six stage wins and seven Power Stage points from the season-opener, the team is aiming for a more representative result as the WRC moves onto the snowy Scandinavian stages.

Three crews will fly the flag for the Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team in Sweden. Andreas Mikkelsen and Thierry Neuville will again compete in the #4 and #5 cars, while Hayden Paddon returns to take over the #6 car from Dani Sordo for this event.

Podium precedent

Both Neuville and Paddon have registered podium finishes in Sweden, finishing second in 2015 and 2016 respectively. Mikkelsen, meanwhile, twice visited the podium with his former team and will be aiming to replicate those performances in his first full snow event for Hyundai Motorsport.

The 19-stage rally will be a celebratory occasion for the Norwegian with Friday’s itinerary taking in six stages across the Swedish border in his native Norway.

All three crews prepared for the event with a three-day test in Kall, Sweden from 30 January to 1 February. Fresh snowfall made for ideal conditions with temperatures expected to remain sub-zero for the rally. The Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC will be fitted with studded Michelin tyres to tackle the frozen stages, which offer some of the fastest roads of the season.

Team Principal Michel Nandan commented: “We want to put the disappointment of Monte-Carlo quickly behind us, and effectively start our 2018 season in Sweden. While Monte offered a very particular rally with unpredictable conditions, we now face an entirely different challenge with the fast and frozen stages of Sweden and Norway. One thing was clear from the first rally of the new season – we can take nothing for granted. We are not going to be gifted good results; we will have to work for them. We aim to do just that at Rally Sweden. For Andreas, this is going to be a special event, with several stages on his home terrain. Thierry and Hayden have both scored podiums for us in Sweden in the past, so I think we have a strong crew line-up. We’re as prepared as we can be for whatever Rally Sweden holds in store.”

Young gun goes for it in WRC2

Rally Sweden will also mark the formal debut of Hyundai Motorsport’s Driver development Program (HMDP) in WRC2. Finnish driver Jari Huttunen and his co-driver Antti Linnaketo will take the wheel of a Hyundai i20 R5 for the first of selected rounds in this season’s competitive WRC2 category.

Sweden will act as a prelude for the youngster’s first full competitive season as an HMDP driver, and will be followed by Rally México in March. The wintry conditions offered by Rally Sweden will be a familiar feeling for the Finn. He will test in Sweden on 11-12 February to prepare for his first WRC2 event of 2018.

Nandan added: “It is an exciting moment for our HMDP as Jari and Antti prepare for the first of their WRC2 events this season. We have been working closely with them since last September to build up to this moment. Sweden should be a good first test for them, on snowy conditions with which they are confident, but at the same time knowing that the competition in WRC2 is immensely tough. All we want from them is to have a trouble-free weekend, to bring the car home and to gain valuable experience.”

WRC Crew Notes: Mikkelsen/Jæger (#4 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)

Mikkelsen secured second place in Rally Sweden 2014 and third in 2015
Norwegian crew have taken stage wins in all four rallies with Hyundai Motorsport

Mikkelsen said: “Rally Sweden is a very special event for me because of the opportunity we have to go rallying across the border into my home country of Norway. We have a lot of support from fans, family and friends. It’s a beautiful event and the only one we get to tackle completely on snow and ice with proper studded tyres. They give amazing grip and the feeling is unbelievable. We expect a good number of snow banks this year, so we will be able to explore the limits.”

WRC Crew Notes: Neuville/Gilsoul (#5 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)

Neuville led for much of 2017 event, having built up a 43-second advantage before retiring
Belgian crew claimed 2nd place in 2015, which remains their best result to date in Sweden

Neuville said: “We had good speed on the Swedish and Norwegian stages last year but unfortunately things didn’t end well when we were forced to retire on the penultimate day. This year, I am aiming to challenge once again for the win but with a far better outcome. Sweden is truly a unique event; the only one where we can compete with fully studded tyres for the complete rally. As one of the fastest rallies of the season, it’s an exhilarating one from inside the cockpit and for the fans lining the stages. We want to put on a good show and, most importantly, deliver a good result.”

WRC Crew Notes: Paddon/Marshall (#6 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)

First event for Paddon and Marshall since finishing third in Rally Australia
Kiwi finished second in Sweden two years ago

Paddon said: “I can’t wait to get my 2018 season underway finally. It feels like a long time since we were competing in Australia. Sweden will be a fresh start for us. I have good memories from finishing on the podium two years ago, and I will be trying to repeat some of that performance. It was great to get re-acquainted with the car in testing recently. We were able to enjoy some outstanding winter driving conditions. More of that in the rally, as well as a decent result, would be the perfect start to my season.”

HMDP Crew Notes: Huttunen/Linnaketo (#34 Hyundai i20 R5)

First 2018 event for HMDP crew in competitive WRC2
Finns will compete in Sarrazin Motorsport–run Hyundai i20 R5

Huttunen commented: “I can’t wait to get started in Sweden, an environment where we feel comfortable. We have been working closely with the Hyundai Motorsport team in Alzenau since our appointment as the HMDP crew for 2018, and we have a two-day test before the rally week starts properly. Sweden is where we will have the chance to put into practice all that we have learned so far. 2018 will be a learning curve for us, but we want to have a solid start on the snow, and build in each of the events we take part this year. We know we are into the deep end with a lot of very quick rivals in WRC2. All we can do is our best, and aim for the finish.”

Bite-size Sweden

Held over four days and 19 stages, Rally Sweden has a total competitive stage distance of 314.25km
Karlstad trotting track gets the action underway on Thursday with a spectacular super special.
Rallying takes place in two countries with six stages on Friday held over the border into Norway
Highlight of Saturday’s schedule is the famous Colin’s Crest jump in the Vargåsen stage. The record is currently set at 45m, and was won by Hyundai Motorsport crews in 2014 and 2015
A quarter of all stages are new for 2018 with a return on Saturday to the Torntorp stage, not run since 2014 – Hyundai Motorsport’s debut season
Sensational snowy backdrops offer some of the most iconic footage of the season, with crews required to stay focused right up to Sunday’s Torsby Power Stage.
Recent Results
PosDriverTotal 
1BelgiumThierry NEUVILLE2:52:13.1
2IrelandCraig BREEN+19.8
3NorwayAndreas MIKKELSEN+28.3
4FinlandEsapekka LAPPI+45.9
5New ZealandHayden PADDON+54.4
6NorwayMads OSTBERG+1:15.3
7FinlandJari-Matti LATVALA+2:04.9
8FinlandTeemu SUNINEN+2:52.2
9EstoniaOtt TANAK+3:44.4
10FranceSébastien OGIER+8:45.4
11JapanTakamoto KATSUTA+9:14.4
12SwedenPontus TIDEMAND+9:18.9
13NorwayOle Christian VEIBY+9:44.9
14United KingdomElfyn EVANS+9:47.4
15SwedenMattias ADIELSSON+11:03.7
16FinlandJanne TUOHINO+11:44.3
17SwedenJohan KRISTOFFERSSON+14:15.6
18FinlandJari HUTTUNEN+14:16.5
19NorwayHenning SOLBERG+16:38.5
20JapanHiroki ARAI+16:54.6
21SwedenMattias JIRVELIUS+18:19.1
22SpainNil SOLANS+23:10.5
23SwedenDennis RÅDSTRÖM+24:12.9
24SwedenEmil BERGKVIST+24:20.2
25SwedenJohnny ANDERSSON+25:14.5
26SwedenKjell SANDBERG+28:24.5
27GermanyJulius TANNERT+28:58.0
28SwedenLars STUGEMO+29:04.7
29SwedenAnders KARLSSON+29:07.0
30FranceTerry FOLB+29:55.8
31IrelandCallum DEVINE+30:40.8
32FranceJean-Baptiste FRANCESCHI+30:50.8
33UkraineYurii PROTASOV+31:37.3
34ItalyTamara MOLINARO+33:16.1
35SwedenJoakim ROMAN+35:35.5
36LithuaniaDeividas JOCIUS+37:39.1
37NorwayChristian August SELMER+37:43.8
38FinlandTaisko LARIO+37:52.9
39ItalyLuca HOELBLING+38:18.7
40ChileEmilio FERNÀNDEZ PIRAINO+39:15.0
41ItalyLuca BOTTARELLI+39:56.8
42SwedenFredrik ALSDAL+39:59.1
43PolandLukasz PIENIAZEK+43:15.1
44New ZealandDavid HOLDER+43:29.6
45FinlandJarmo BERG+44:26.8
46SwedenJohan HOLMBERG+53:32.7
47SwedenJonna Eson BRÅDHE+58:26.4
48FinlandJarkko NIKARA+59:03.2
49ItalyUmberto SCANDOLA+1:10:21.9
50United KingdomTom WILLIAMS+1:12:58.1
51SwedenSune LARSSON+1:13:10.1
52ItalyGianluca LINARI+1:13:33.3
53FranceTheo CHALAL+1:18:13.1
54EstoniaKen TORN+1:20:05.3
55SwedenHeidi RYRLÈN+1:23:01.8
56SwedenJohachim CARLSTRÔM+1:28:38.9
57SwedenRobert BLOMBERG+1:30:28.7
58ItalyGiacomo FRISERO+1:40:04.4
59United KingdomKris MEEKE+30:11.3
60Saudi ArabiaYazeed AL RAJHI+1:18:48.7
PosDriverTotal 
1FranceSébastien Ogier4:18:55.5
2EstoniaOtt Tänak+58.3
3FinlandJari-Matti Latvala+1:52.0
4United KingdomKris Meeke+4:43.1
5BelgiumThierry Neuville+4:53.8
6United KingdomElfyn Evans+4:54.8
7FinlandEsapekka Lappi+4:57.5
8FranceBryan Bouffier+7:39.5
9IrelandCraig Breen+9:06.7
10Czech RepublicJan Kopecký+16:43.0
11FinlandKalle Rovanperä+21:58.3
12SwitzerlandOlivier Burri+30:11.9
13NorwayAndreas Mikkelsen+36:52.6
14ItalyEddie Sciessere+39:30.7
15FranceYoann Bonato+43:09.1
16ItalyManuel Villa+45:24.4
17FranceNicolas Latil+49:59.3
18FinlandTeemu Suninen+50:14.1
19BelgiumGuillaume de Mevius+50:29.1
20ItalyEnrico Brazzoli+1:03:07.5
21IrelandEamonn Boland+1:04:52.5
22FranceLaurent Scherrer+1:06:52.8
23LithuaniaDeividas Jocius+1:07:19.3
24FranceStéphane Métiffiot+1:10:42.5
25FranceSébastien Capanna+1:10:48.7
26FrancePhilippe Rageau+1:12:52.3
27BelgiumAmaury Molle+1:17:31.2
28GreeceNikos Pavlidis+1:19:21.3
29FranceFrédéric Fortunato+1:19:36.4
30FranceRomain Fostier+1:20:12.3
31NetherlandsHenk Vossen+1:22:22.7
32FranceLaure Jaussaud+1:27:52.3
33United States of AmericaEnda McCormack+1:31:46.9
34FinlandTaisko Lario+1:36:04.7
35FrancePhilippe Baffoun+1:36:34.5
36FranceChristophe Berard+1:37:27.1
37CanadaJason Bailey+1:38:30.4
38FranceThierry Tondut+1:40:07.9
39FranceAlain Mari+1:40:52.6
40FranceHugues Chareyre+1:42:30.4
41FrancePhilippe Chevallard+1:43:45.2
42FranceLilian Vialle+1:48:15.8
43ItalyCarlo Covi+1:50:21.5
44FranceRichard Desbordes+2:06:13.0
45FranceEric Martini+2:07:56.7
46FranceJonathan Villy+2:19:57.7
47ItalyAndrea Coti Zelati+2:21:55.3
2018 Points
PosNamePoints
1BelgiumThierry Neuville41
2FranceSébastien Ogier30
3FinlandEsapekka Lappi23
3FinlandJari-Matti Latvala23
5NorwayAndreas Mikkelsen21
5EstoniaOtt Tänak21
7New ZealandCraig Breen20
8United KingdomKris Meeke17
9New ZealandHayden Paddon10
10United KingdomElfyn Evans9
11FranceBryan Bouffier4
12IrelandCraig Breen2
13Czech RepublicJan Kopecký1