Mikkelsen signs for Volkswagen

The interest from media was high when Volkswagen Motorsport presented it’s WRC concept in Monaco. The press conference was attanded by motorring- and motorsports journalists from all over the world.

One thing they learned was that Norwegian Andreas Mikkelsen, age 23,  (photo 2) will be driving the teams third Polo R WRC 2013.


When the 2013 season starts, Volkswagen are ready to go after the titles in WRC. After having prepared for almost two years everyone is really keen to see what the Germans can achieve in their comeback to WRC. Many believe that ”Das Auto” can be a contender for the gold from the start.

Officially Volkswagen Motorsport have set the goals as follows: podium positions in 2013, victories in 2014 and contending for the championship title in 2015.

But things might happen faster…


The fact that Sébastien Ogier and Jari-Matti Latvala will compete in all 13 events 2013 has been known a while. At the press conference in Monaco Volkswagen made public that Andras Mikkelsen will be driving the third team car in 2013.

The Norwegian will however have to wait for his premiere. He will start in the WRC in the fourth event of the season, in Portugal.

– This is a great opportunity for me and one I will take very good care of. I couldn’t imagine a better christmas gift, says Mikkelsen, who will be doing the reconnaissance in Rally Sweden.


During the big media event in Monaco Volkswagen also presented a VW Polo limited edition for street use. There will be only 2.500 cars made and and it will carry WRC branding and comes with a 220 bhp engine.

Something for all of us who won’t get the chance to park a VW Polo R WRC in the garage.


Photo 1.

Photo: Volkswagen

The presentation in Monaco.

Photo 2.

Photo: Volkswagen

Andreas Mikkelsen – signed for Volkswagen.

Loeb wants to win Rally Sweden again

Sébastien Loeb will be competeing in four WRC events next year. One of them will be Rally Sweden, February 7-10.

– I would really like to win the Swedish Rally once more, says the nine-time World Champion.


Sébastien Loeb has competed his last full season in the WRC. His commitment with Citroën for 2013 will only be for four events. The rest of the time he will be preparing for his coming career in the WTCC.

That the classic Monte Carlo Rally will be Loebs first WRC event for 2013 has beenj known for a while. Now Loeb reveals two more of the events he will be competing in: Rally Sweden and, of course, Rally France.

– Naturally we’re very happy that Loeb has decided to compete in the Swedish Rally in 2013. It will give our spectators a chance to see and celebrate him one last time, says Clerk of the Course for Rally Sweden, Bertil Klarin.

Loeb was the first – and so far only – non-Scandinavian to win Rally Sweden, which he did in 2004. Then, the snow conditions were’nt the best and there was much gravel on the stages.

– I would love to win Rally Sweden one more time and this time in perfect winter conditions, says Loeb, who apart from his win in 2004 has been in second place  in the event on three occasions.


Citroëns will compete in the WRC 2013 with four drivers. Alongside Loeb (who likely will make his fourth event Argentina), Mikko Hirvonen will compete in all 13 events while Spanyard Dani Sordo will compete in at least 11.

Fourth driver Khalid Al-Qassimi will compete in 8 events and starts his season i Rally Sweden.


The Citroën WRC team for 2013, which  will compete under the name Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team, resently presented the new look for the DS3 WRC. The presentation was made with the slogan: New colours – same desire to win!



Photo 1.

Photo : McKlein


Photo 2.

Photo : Citroën

WRC 2013 without Petter Solberg

Petter Solberg will not be competing in the WRC in 2013. He made his decision public in a press statement today.

– Of course, it’s sad. I would have loved to continue competing, but I see now that it won’t happen next year, he says.


Petter Solberg started his WRC careeer in Rally Sweden in 1998. Five years later he became world champion. His impressive career also holds 188 starts and 13 winns in WRC events. One of those was in Rally Sweden. The year was 2005 and the car was a Subaru Impreza (photo).

– I am very grateful and humble for my experiences during the 15 years I’ve been part of the rally world, he says.

The season just past he competed for the Ford Manufacturers team. After a good start of the season he hit a rough patch and ended the season in fifth place.

A continued cooperation with Ford and M-sport is not going to happen.

- I’ve said that I can drive for free, but I won’t be paying to drive. As it stands right now, I won’t be doing any rallying, says Petter, and adds:

- I know I’m good enough to compete at the highest level for many years yet, but I do understand that the financial situation for M-Sport for 2013 is tough. I can only wish Malcolm Wilson good luck for the future.


What Solberg will be doing during next season he won’t say today, but it’s obvious that it will be in motorsports and many believe he might turn up in the new European Rallycross Championship.


Photo: McKlein

It's Ford for Østberg and Andersson

Mats Østberg and Jonas Andersson have signed for Qatar M-Sport World Rally Team for 2013.

The Norwegian-Swedish duo will compete a full season in the Ford Fiesta RS WRC.

– This is a big opportunity for me, says Østberg in a pressrelease from M-Sport.


Mads Østberg and Jonas Andersson can look back at a successful 2012. They competed in 11 out of 13 rallies, finished in all and never lower than fifth place. In Portugal they scored their first victory.

In the championship they finished fourth, beaten only by Sébastien Loeb, Mikko Hirvonen and Jari-Matti Latvala.

– Østbergs results in 2012 have been very impressive. They show he’s ready to take the next step in his career, says Malcolm Wilson of M-Sport.

Mads Østberg is of course happy for the chance he and Jonas Andersson now are given.

– I really look forward to the next season and can hardly wait for the testing to get started, he says.


Photo: McKlein

Rally Sweden goes historic

Rally Sweden will spice up the event with a historic class in 2013. Next to the supercars of today the spectators will be taken for a trip back in time.

– This is a way to give all who follow Rally Sweden a little something extra and right now where working hard to get both interesting drivers and cars to come here, says CEO Glenn Olsson.


The history of Rally Sweden is long, and since the premiere in 1950 – then called The Swedish Rally to the Midninght Sun – the top drivers and cars of every generation have competed in Sweden.

Now it’s time for a sweet reunion. The decision to include a historic class should be seen as an homage to all those who through the years have contributed to make the Swedish WRC event to one of the true classics.

The initiative from Rally Sweden is welcomed in the community of historic rallying.

– The interest for this is enormous, especially here in Sweden but also abroad, says Per Carlsson, manager for Midnattssolsrallyt, who has been contracted by Rally Sweden to be the contact person for the historic event.


The historic rally running alongside the WRC event will consist of several classes.

• Class 1: Cars up to 1969.

• Class 2: Cars from 1970 until 1975.

• Class 3: Cars from 1976 until 1981.

• Class 4: Cars from 1982 until 1985.

– We will also invite an exhibition class for cars made until 1990, says Carlsson who believes that the entries, limited to 35, will hold makes and models such as Ford Escort, Porsche 911, Saab two-stroke, Volvo 240 Turbo, Audi Quattro and Minis.


Rally Sweden runs February 7-10. The historic class will compete for three days. Thursday February 7 is the start with an exhibition at the Super Special Stage in Karlstad in connection to the official start of the WRC event.

On Friday, the historic cars will run Vargåsen 1, the stage with the world-famous crest named after Colin McRae. They will then return to Karlstad and run the Super Special Stage.

On Saturday the WRC cars run four stages twice (Sågen, Fredriksberg, Rämmen and Hagfors Sprint) . The historic cars start right after the WRC cars but will only run the stages once.

– The historic event ends with the very popular Hagfors Sprint in central Hagfors. It always draws a big crowd so the scene is set for a great finish to the event, says Clerk of the Course Bertil Klarin.

The total number of SS-kilometres for the historic class is 84.


Who are the drivers who will battle it out in in the first ever ”Historic Rally Sweden”?

– Year one it is most likely that the drivers will be predominantly Swedes, but hopefully we will have some foreign teams starting, says Per Carlsson and referes mainly to drivers from neighbouring Norway and Finland.

Among the Swedish drivers there are many favourites. It would be great to see World Champions and multiple Swedish Champions Björn Waldegård and Stig Blomqvist. Local Per Eklund is of course also high on the wish-list, as well as drivers like Åke ”Bryggarn” Andersson, Kalle Grundel, Kenneth Eriksson, Mats Jonsson, Kenneth Bäcklund, Stig-Olof Walfridsson, Sören Nilsson etc etc.


Photo: Jerker Johansson

Citroën chose Dani Sordo

It’s Daniel Sordo who will be joining Mikko Hirvonen in the Citroën Manufacturers Team for the 2013 WRC season.

Norwegian Mads Østberg, with Swedish co-driver Jonas Andersson, was in the running but will now have to find a new solution.


Sordo, age 29, is not a new face in the Citroën team. After winning JWRC in 2005 he got a place in the team and competed in the WRC 2006-2010.

Both in 2008 and 2009 Sordo ended up in third place in the championship. But despite his success he still has not got a WRC event victory. Second places he has more – 17 of them.

The last two seasons the Spaniard has been competing for Mini, where his best results have been two second places – in France 2011 and in Monte Carlo 2012.

Butu now he returs to Citroën. How many rallies he will compete in in 2013 is dependant on how many apperances World Champion Sébastien Loeb will make. The Frenchman will end his WRC career with a few chosen rallies during the next season. So far only one is known – the premiere in Monte Carlo.

– To come back to Citroën, wich was my first-hand choice for 2013, presents a big opportunity for me. I’m still hunting my first WRC victory and I’ve decided to take it next season, says Sordo, who was competing with Mads Østberg for the set in Citroën.

The Norwegian had a great season in 2012 and was for a long time in the running for a seat Citroën. The French team chose to go with Sordo so now it looks like Ford or Mini are the alternatives for Østberg and Andersson in their continued WRC effort.

Medals for P-G and Tidemand

Four Swedes were fighting for medals when the WRC season ended in Spain. P-G Andersson and Emil Axelsson won the silver in SWRC while Pontus Tidemand and Norwegian co-driver Stig-Rune Skjaermoen (photo) won the bronze in the WRC Academy.

Jonas Anderson did not get a medal. He and Mads Østberg had to settle for fourth place in WRC.


WRC 2012 ended with world champion Sébastien Loeb at the top of the results board. After nine consecutive gold medals the Frenchman’s career as full-time rally driver is over. Next season he will only take part in a few selected WRC events. The rest of the time he will be preparing for his new career – as a racing driver in WTCC where he will continue the successfull cooperation with Citroën.

Loeb won in Spain ahead of Finns Jari-Matti Latvala and Mikko Hirvonen. The second position in the final event for Latvlala, who is now leaving Ford for Volkswagen, meant that he passed Mads Østberg and Jonas Andersson in the overall standinigs. The Norwegian-Swedish duo opened the rally in the best possible way by being fastest on the Friday and having a lead of almost half a minute as the rally continued on Saturday. But both the lead and the shot at the bronze in WRC was lost due to an unfortunate tire choice and a visit off road. But they were both pleased with a fourth position in the rally as well as overall.


Given a little time, P-G Andersson and Emil Axelsson will most likely also be pleased with their effort. The Swedes, competing for Proton, aimed for gold in SWRC and opened by winning the first two stages. However, on SS3 they broke a drive shaft and lost almost one and a half minute, and the lead, to rival Craig Breen.

They made up some of the lost time on SS4 but then ill fortune struck again.

– On SS5 we had a small skid but unfortunately we hit a rock and damaged the steering.

And there another two and a halvf minute was lost and with it the chance to win the rally and claim the gold medal in SWRC. Andersson/Axelsson had to settle for second place in SWRC, eigth position overall in the rally. This meant they got the silver medal in SWRC while the gold went to Craig Breen, who became the second driver ever, after Sébastien Loeb, to win the gold medal in two different championships. Because last year the Irishman won the WRC Acedemy.

It was very emotional for Breen to cross the finish line of the last stage as champion. Earlier this season he lost co-driver Gareth Robert in a tragic accident in Sicily. Then he wasn’t sure he could continue with rallying, but in Finland he was back. And now he’s World Champion.


In the WRC Academy Pontus Tidemand and Norwegian co-driver Stig-Rune Skjaermoen secured the bronze. Their final rally of the season was impressive. Along with scoring 18 points for ending second after home driver Jose Suarez,  Pontus and Stig-Rune won seven of the twelve stages in the rally.

The points (seven) for the stage victories proved crucial in the fight for the championship bronze, behind Elfyn Evans and Suarez. Tidemand and Brendan Reeves from Australia both ended on 84 points, but the bronze was awarded to Tidemand.

Tidemand and Skjaermoen opened the rally by winning five of the six stages on the Friday. Still, they were “only” in second place as the day ended. This due to a puncture on SS% wich cost them three minutes.

- During this season we’ve been on the podium in alla events where we haven’t had technical issues and we’ve won the second most number of stage victories. Naturally I’m very pleased with the third place in the championship and we’ve showed that we’re one of the fastest teams out there, when everything works, says Pontus.


In PWRC, where there were no Swedes competing in Spain, the gold went to Benito Guerra fom Mexiko.


Photo: M-Sport

Swedes in WRC podium fights

A quartet of Swedes are involved in podium fights when the 2012 WRC season comes to a draw in Spain. Co-driver Jonas Andersson is fighting for a third position in WRC together with Mads Østberg, P-G Andersson and Emil Axelsson are going for gold in SWRC and Pontus Tidemand has a chance at the silver in WRC Academy.


The Spanish WRC rally, Catalunya Rally, opens Thursday night with a ceremonial start in Barcelona. After that, 18 stages mixig gravel and tarmac awaits for three intense days.

Starting the rally, P-G Andersson is in second position in SWRC in his Proton Satria Neo S2000. The distance to leading Irishman Craig Breen is only two points.

Whoever finishes ahead of the other, of the tow of them, can most likely call himself World Champion, even though Yazeed Al Rajhi in third place has a small chance at the title.

- Our only thought is to take the gold by winning the rally and we will be attacking as hard as we can. This will be a very exciting rally indeed, says Andersson.

P-G has not competed in Spain since the organisers chose to combine tarmac and gravel, but he has good memories from previous starts in the rally.

- Amongs other things I won the JWRC here in 2007, he remembers.

Both P-G and Proton have previous experiences of winning a WRC gold medal. P-G is double JWRC champion and Proton won the PWRC with Karamjit Singh in 2002.

Should P-G win the gold he will be the second driver ever to win a WRC titile in two different championships. The only driver to do this so far is Sébastien Loeb who next to his nine WRC titles also has a JWRC gold from 2001.

In WRC an exciting duel for the third position awaits. Before Spain, the bronze belongs to Mads Østbergs and Jonas Anderssons, but Petter Solberg and Jari-Matti Latvala are close behind. All are driving Ford Fiesta RS WRC – Østberg privately and Solberg and Latvala for the Fords Team.

Østberg and Andersson have had a fantastic season with several podium positions and the first WRC event victory of theire career. The latter came in Portugal. Naturally, they want to end the season with a medal, but it won’t be easy.Latvala and Solberg are just four and thirteen points behind.


In WRC Academy Pontus Tidemand is fourth before the last event. With a good result he can get to the second position in his Ford Fiesta R2.

- We are going to go all-in to secure the second position in the championship. I’ve got the second most stage wins in the WRC Academy, but we’ve had technical problems with the car in three events, says Pontus.

WRC Academy only compete during Friday and Saturday in Spain. Friday offers both gravel and tarmac while Saturday is run solely on tarmac.

- The tarmac stages in Spain differs from those in Germany and France. They are more wide and flowing so you can drive more like when racing, Pontus explains.



Photo:

P-G Andersson/Emil Axelsson, Proton Satria Neo S2000.

Østberg and Andersson in podium position

Norwegian-Swedish team Mads Østberg and Jonas Andersson finished in fourth position in Sardinia and advanced to third place in the championship.

Winner of the penultimate rally of 2012 was Mikko Hirvonen, before Evgeny Novikov and Ott Tänak.

Sébastien Loeb retired.


The victory in Sardinia was special for irvonen.

– It’s my first for Citroën and to do it here on Sardinia felt extra good since I have five second positions here from earlier years, says the Finn.

Scoring 25 points secures the second position in the drivers championship for Hirvonen, trailing his team colleague Loeb. Loeb broke the steering of his  Citroën DS3 WRC on the Friday and was forced to retire while still in the lead.

With bothe the first and second positions claimed there is only the third position left to fight for when WRC goes to Spain for the last round, November 8-11. That fight is between Mads Østberg with Swedish co-driver Jonas Andersson, Jari-Matti Latvala and Petter Solberg.

The latter two, driving for Ford, retired and restarted in Sardinia and didn’t get the points they had hoped for. Solberg scored five points by winning the Power Stage (3 points) and finishing in ninth position. Latvala had to make due with the two points he scord by finishing second on the Power Stage.

But team Mads Østberg/Jonas Andersson had a much better rally. Even though they had som technical issues and a puncture on the last stage they finished in fourth position. This gave them twelve much needed points wich moved them into third position overall in the championship.

Now Østberg/Andersson stand four points ahead of Latvala and thirteen ahead of Solberg.

– Spain is going to be very exciting, says a happy Østberg.


Photo: LES KOLCZAK/M-SPORT

Mads Østberg and Jonas Andersson in third position overall with one WRC round left to run.

Many Swedes in the final WRC round

It looks like there will be Swedes in all the WRC classes when this years championship ends with Rally de Espana, November 8-11.

Most interesting is of course P-G Andersson, who together with Emil Axelsson is hunting the SWRC title.

Another Swede in an interesting position is co-driver Jonas Andersson, who together with Norwegian driver Mads Østberg hopefully will have a shot at the third place in the WRC.

The Swedish participation in PWRC, by Ramona Karlsson and Mariam Walfridsson, is in doubt right now. They had to skip the current rally in Sardinia due to financial reasons, but they are working hard to get a budget for the last rally.

WRC Academy has only managed to attract eight starters for the last rally of the season. Pontus Tidemand and Fredrik Åhlin both drive a Ford Fiesta R2 and are going to Spain with the intention of ending the year in the best way possible.

Tidemand is in fourth position and has a shot at the podium.


Photo: Backmans Foto

P-G Andersson, Proton.