WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP 2021

2021

VM kalendern 2021
21-24 jan Monte Carlo    
11-14 febr Rally Sweden    
26-28 febr Finland    
22-25 april Kroatioen *    
20-23 maj Portugal    
3-6 juni Italien    
24-27 juni Kenya    
15-18 juli Estland    
29-1 aug Finland    
19-22 aug England    
??-?? aug Belgien    
9-12 sept Chile    
14-17 okt Spanien    
11-14 nov Japan    
* Subject to agreement

 


21-01-23 Ogier set for Rallye Monte-Carlo record win after Saturday surge
Frenchman holds 13-second lead over Evans with one day of action left. Sébastien Ogier took a huge step towards securing a historic eighth Rallye Monte-Carlo win on Saturday after recapturing the lead to head a clean sweep of the podium places for Toyota Gazoo Racing.

After losing top spot due to a flat tyre on Friday afternoon, Ogier regained the initiative from Elfyn Evans with a stunning drive in darkness on snow and ice-covered roads in this morning’s opening speed test. He distanced Evans by almost 18sec in the 18.31km stage.

The Frenchman retained his cool on polished snow in the next test. Although Evans claimed back time by winning the final stage, Ogier made the journey south to Monaco with a 13.0sec advantage in his Yaris with one day remaining.

"Conditions in this morning's opening stage were very difficult," said Ogier. "In some corners it didn't feel like we had any studs in our tyres. The conditions in the second run changed a lot since our safety crew passed so I had to trust what I saw."

Evans was relieved to stop time ebbing away with victory in the last test. "I needed that really. It's been a bit of a frustrating day. I haven't been on the money, but we'll try to keep the pressure on tomorrow," he said.

Kalle Rovanperä completed Toyota's treble in third. Victory on the middle of today's three stages enabled Thierry Neuville to close within a whisker in his Hyundai i20, but the young Finn repelled the pressure to end the day 7.0sec ahead. He was 43.8sec behind Evans.

Ott Tänak's hold on third ended when he punctured twice in successive stages. With just one spare onboard his i20 the Estonian limped to service, but organisers decided there was insufficient rubber on the rim to drive on the public road and he was forced out.

Dani Sordo was fifth, more than a minute adrift of team-mate Neuville. With Tänak sidelined in the other car and unable to restart tomorrow, the Spaniard must finish to deliver vital manufacturer points for the Korean squad so he eased his pace to avoid risks.

Japan's Takamoto Katsuta moved up to sixth in another Yaris, more than 2min 30sec back.

Sunday's new-look final leg features a double pass through Puget-Théniers – La Penne and Briançonnet – Entrevaux, totalling 54.48km. There will be no service and the second run through the latter forms the bonus points-paying Wolf Power Stage.

Leading positions after Saturday
1. S Ogier / J Ingrassia FRA Toyota Yaris 2hr 16min 31.9sec
2. E Evans / S Martin GBR Toyota Yaris +13.0sec
3. K Rovanperä / J Halttunen FIN Toyota Yaris +56.8sec
4. T Neuville / M Wydaeghe BEL Hyundai i20 +1min 03.8sec
5. D Sordo / C del Barrio ESP Hyundai i20 +2min 11.3sec
6. T Katsuta / D Barritt GBR Toyota Yaris +4min 43.1sec
21-01-22 Leader Evans under attack from Rallye Monte-Carlo master Ogier
Welshman holds slender Friday lead over Frenchman with Tänak still in contention. Elfyn Evans led Rallye Monte-Carlo after Friday's second leg, but the Welshman was under severe pressure from angry world champion Sébastien Ogier.

Evans held a 7.4sec advantage over his Toyota Yaris team-mate, but Ogier is looming large in Evans' rear mirror after a stunning recovery from a puncture which cost him the lead.

With the brake problem that hindered him on Thursday resolved, Ogier was imperious on the French Alps roads near Gap to win all three morning speed tests and climb from fifth to first.

His 11.3sec advantage over Evans was wiped out after he spun and ended this afternoon's opening test with his front left wheel on the rim. He plunged to third, 23.4sec adrift, but the frustrated Frenchman bounced back to regain 16.0sec by winning the final test.

Ogier's recovery was remarkable as he drove that last stage with an unbalanced mix of three Pirelli winter tyres and one studded tyre on his Yaris.

"I'm here to win this rally – so I'm going to win it," said Ogier. "I was pushing in the final stage because I was angry. Conditions were very difficult with a lot of rain and we had to carry a studded tyre on the car. After a couple of kilometres it was starting to move at the rear."

Conditions changed all day, making tyre choice complicated. A morning mix of damp roads and ice gave way to persistent rain and mud this afternoon.

Evans was never outside the top three times, and won the penultimate test, but a damaged wheel meant he drove the final stage with the same unbalanced tyre mix as Ogier. He was sixth fastest.

"When conditions get more extreme, more slippery, I'm struggling for that last bit of feeling and I don't get the confidence I need to push," he admitted. "Seb had a fantastic day. He took a lot of risks and maybe I didn't take quite enough. We know there's a small advantage to running first on the road, but to be fair to him that wasn't 16sec.”

Leg 1 leader Ott Tänak was 17.5sec further back in third. The Estonian's Hyundai i20 lost power in this morning's tight hairpins and he was powerless to repel Ogier's charge into second in the final stage when his windows misted up.

Fourth-placed Kalle Rovanperä made it three Yaris cars in the top four, the Finn 53.1sec behind Evans. He took the lead in the morning's opening test but a mix of worsening road conditions and a 10sec penalty for arriving late at SS4 dropped him down the order.

He slid into a field early in the penultimate test but recovered to demote Thierry Neuville to fifth in the closing stage. Just 6.0sec split the duo, Neuville enjoying a better afternoon after toiling this morning with a poor tyre choice.

Team-mate Dani Sordo competed the top six another 50.5sec back. He had little confidence in his car's handling after making the same tyre selection error, but a more balanced choice this afternoon rejuvenated the Spaniard.

Saturday brings another early start with La Bréole - Selonnet launching the day in darkness at 06.30. Saint Clément – Freissinières precedes the final service in Gap, before a repeat of the opening test starts the long journey south to Monaco after 57.10km of competition.

Leading positions after Friday
1. E Evans / S Martin GBR Toyota Yaris 1hr 33min 57.5sec
2. S Ogier / J Ingrassia FRA Toyota Yaris +7.4sec
3. O Tänak / M Järveoja EST Hyundai i20 +25.3sec
4. K Rovanperä / J Halttunen FIN Toyota Yaris +53.1sec
5. T Neuville / M Wydaeghe BEL Hyundai i20 +59.1sec
6. D Sordo / C del Barrio ESP Hyundai i20 +1min 49.6sec
21-01-21 Tänak double earns Rallye Monte-Carlo lead in WRC season opener
Suninen unhurt after crash as patchy ice tests drivers to the limit on Thursday. Ott Tänak won Thursday afternoon's opening two speed tests to claim the early lead at Rallye Monte-Carlo.

The Estonian crashed heavily in the FIA World Rally Championship's season-opener 12 months ago, but there were no mistakes today as he ended the short opening leg with a 3.3sec advantage over Kalle Rovanperä.

Tänak, driving a Hyundai i20, won the 20.58km special stage from Saint-Disdier to Corps by 3.0sec from the Finnish youngster. He added a further three tenths to his lead by taking the following 20.78km test from Saint-Maurice to Saint-Bonnet, despite stalling at the start.

Conditions in the opening test were wet but patchy ice early in the next stage made grip unpredictable. Nevertheless, Tänak, like virtually all the leading crews, opted for Pirelli's supersoft compound asphalt tyres.

"It was looking like quite a simple start to the Monte, normally we've never started in daylight and in these consistent conditions. In the end the first one wasn't so bad but the second one, with a lot of cuts and muddy places, was demanding with a lot of surprises," he explained.

Rovanperä enjoyed a trouble-free run in his Toyota Yaris to end the day 5.2sec clear of team-mate Elfyn Evans. The Welshman was almost caught out on a slippery right corner in SS1 and struggled to generate heat in his tyres in the early part of SS2.

Thierry Neuville was fourth in another i20, 16.0sec off his team-mate's pace. The Belgian was co-driven by Martijn Wydaeghe for the first time after splitting with long-term partner Nicolas Gilsoul last week. The pair settled in well, despite sound problems in the intercom.

Sébastien Ogier started his title defence in fifth, less than a second adrift of Neuville. The Frenchman had intermittent brake problems in his Yaris but had almost half a minute in hand over Dani Sordo, who was unnerved by a strange noise in his i20.

Pierre-Louis Loubet was seventh in a similar car, 25.1sec adrift of the Spaniard, with WRC2 leader Andreas Mikkelsen next up in a Skoda Fabia. Fellow support class contender Adrien Fourmaux was ninth with a frustrated Gus Greensmith tenth in his Ford Fiesta.

Takamoto Katsuta was just off the leaderboard after spinning his Yaris in both stages.

Teemu Suninen was the first retirement. The Finn set a storming pace through the opening test and was on course for fastest time before running wide into a bank, rolling back across the road and plunging down an embankment.

Friday hosts the 'meat' of the rally with almost 105km of competition across five stages west of Gap. Two loops of two tests sandwich a single pass through the longest stage of the weekend. The action kicks off before dawn at 06.10, with service after the first three tests.

Leading positions after Thursday
1. O Tänak / M Järveoja EST Hyundai i20 24m17.5s
2. K Rovanperä / J Halttunen FIN Toyota Yaris +3.3s
3. E Evans / S Martin GBR Toyota Yaris +8.5s
4. T Neuville / M Wydaeghe BEL Hyundai i20 +16.0s
5. S Ogier / J Ingrassia FRA Toyota Yaris +16.9s
21-01-20 Ogier chases eighth title as WRC season launches in Monte Carlo
Twelve rounds ahead for season that brings curtain down on World Rally Car era. Just 46 days after Sébastien Ogier sealed his seventh world title, the 2021 FIA World Rally Championship roars into life on Thursday (21 January) at the famous Rallye Monte-Carlo.

Twelve rounds lie in wait on four continents in a season that brings down the curtain on the World Rally Car era. Twenty-five years after being introduced, World Rally Cars will make way for an exciting new hybrid generation in 2022.

Ogier returns for his final WRC season, heading a Toyota Gazoo Racing line-up which is identical to last year. He is joined in Yaris cars by 2020 championship runner-up Elfyn Evans and Kalle Rovanperä.

Ogier bids for a record eighth Monte-Carlo victory on roads close to his birthplace near the host town of Gap, in the French Alps. But the 37-year-old is taking nothing for granted, especially after a test crash last week.

“Everybody knows that Rallye Monte-Carlo is the rally that I want to win the most. But it’s a rally that you have to face with a lot of humility because it’s always challenging with the conditions and you have to be really clever to win it,” he said.

The rally, which celebrates its 110th anniversary, is the most unpredictable on the calendar. Conditions can vary from snow and ice to wet and dry asphalt on the same stage, making tyre selection fiendishly hard but crucially important as teams hunt for the best compromise.

Italian manufacturer Pirelli returns as the championship’s tyre supplier after a 10-year absence to add a further element of uncertainty, but it’s a challenge Ogier relishes.

“We will need to adapt to the new tyres, especially on Monte-Carlo when we have a bigger package available than any other event. But I’m looking forward to it because for me it’s an interesting aspect of rallying: To try and make the best tyre strategy and use them as best as you can,” he said.

Hyundai Motorsport defends the manufacturers’ title, with Thierry Neuville and Ott Tänak leading the attack. Neuville starts on the back foot after splitting with co-driver Nicolas Gilsoul last week. Martijn Wydaeghe replaces him but the pair have not tested together.

Dani Sordo pilots the third i20, a car he will share during the season with Ireland’s Craig Breen.

Teemu Suninen and Britain’s Gus Greensmith return in M-Sport Ford’s Fiesta, the Finn with former co-driver Mikko Markkula returning to his side.

Toyota development driver Takamoto Katsuta and Pierre-Louis Loubet complete the frontrunners in the 84-car entry.

The rally starts in Gap on Thursday lunchtime and competitors face 14 speed tests covering 257.64km before Sunday afternoon’s finish in Monaco.
21-01-14 Two-year WRC contract for Rally Estonia
WRC Promoter and Rally Estonia signed a two-year contract
Passion, commitment and team spirit ensured a spot in WRC calendar
Rally Estonia aims a longer success in WRC

WRC Rally Estonia 2020, the first ever Estonian WRC round was a success. On Wednesday, January 13, 2021 an agreement between WRC Promoter and Rally Estonia was signed by Managing Director Jona Siebel and Rally Estonia Commercial Director Tarmo Hõbe. Estonian Prime Minister Jüri Ratas announced at the press conference that Rally Estonia has joined the WRC calendar for 2021 and 2022.

The two-year contract is a sign of trust from the FIA and WRC Promoter to the Estonian government and Rally Estonia organising team. As a sign of recognition, Prime Minister Jüri Ratas presented Estonian e-residency to FIA Rally Director Yves Matton, Managing Director of WRC Promoter Jona Siebel and President of the Estonian Autosport Union Ari Vatanen. All three were participating at the press conference online and e-residency enabled them to sign the contracts digitally during the press conference.

Jüri Ratas, Prime Minister of Estonian Republic: “It was an honour to announce that Rally Estonia is a part of the WRC calendar in 2021 as well as 2022. It shows that we have earned a trust of the stakeholders. The fact that we managed to organise a safe Rally Estonia with no infections was highly rated both internationally and here in Estonia. My congratulations to the organisers, partners and all the rally fans in the world. I’m sure that Estonia’s position in rally world will strengthen.“

Yves Matton, FIA Rally Director: „It is a part of the process and long commitment from Estonian Autosport Union and Rally Estonia organisers. They are involved organising rally since 2010 trying to achieve high level events. They were part of European championship. After that they deserved a right to organise WRC Promotional Event. It was success where all the manufacturers were involved. In 2020 under special circumstances, they were able to organise WRC event. They showcased that they really have the high level of competence and bringing new ideas and fresh approach to the series. They convinced FIA, WRC Promoter and all the stakeholders that this event has the level to join the calendar for 2021 and 2022.”

Jona Siebel, WRC Promoter Managing Director: „There were many factors which led to this agreement. First of all, the performance of last year’s event was one of the key aspects here. The second factor is the passion, especially the passion of the Estonian rally fans which is really great. Of course, that played a big part in Ott Tänak’s and Martin Järveoja’s World Championship titles for sure. And the third factor is commitment. It’s all about the commitment. Our understanding is that all Estonia is committed. The government, the whole organising team, the fans. Everybody is committed. Two years is a clear signal from FIA and WRC Promoter, it fits.”

Ari Vatanen, President of Estonian Autosport Union: „The organising team of Rally Estonia has done superb work. And we know they were capable of organising top-class events. The situation in the world last year pushed some processes to move faster and the dream became a reality. The Estonian Government, especially Prime Minister Jüri Ratas play a big part in the success of last year’s Rally Estonia and in this agreement. The support from the government is very important. What I have seen here is a great team spirit in everything. This team spirit brought WRC to Estonia and I believe it can keep WRC in Estonia.”

Urmo Aava, Rally Estonia Director: „Ten years ago it seemed impossible to organise a WRC event in Estonia. But we wanted to be better every year and it keeps our focus sharp. I believe that we have still room for improvement almost everywhere. We understand what and where we must do, and we are already working to deliver another great event. We have a unique opportunity to start a tradition here. Our goal is not just two years in the calendar, our goal is a longer success in WRC.”

The second edition of WRC Rally Estonia will run on 15-18 July.
21-01-14 Arctic Rally Finland joins 2021 FIA World Rally Championship
· Snow and ice fixture added to WRC schedule on 26 - 28 February
· Rovaniemi hosts all-new second round of 2021 season in Lapland
· Rally Finland gravel round retains existing date on 29 July - 1 August

The FIA World Rally Championship will venture into the Arctic Circle for the first time next month after WRC Promoter today added Arctic Rally Finland Powered by CapitalBox to the 2021 calendar.

The all-new snow and ice event will be based in Rovaniemi on 26 - 28 February and replaces the cancelled Rally Sweden as the WRC’s only pure winter encounter. It forms round two of the 12-event fixture list.

The announcement means the Nordic country will host two WRC rounds this year. Rally Finland, held on iconic rollercoaster gravel roads around Jyväskylä, will take place on 29 July - 1 August.

Rovaniemi, the capital of Finland’s northernmost Lapland province, lies just outside the Arctic Circle. The competition will take place inside the region, where temperatures can plunge below -30°C in February.

The city is famously known as the home of Santa Claus (or Joulupukki as he is called in Finland) and also attracts high tourist numbers to view the stunning Aurora Borealis displays – better known as the Northern Lights.

The rally starts on Friday 26 February with a morning shakedown, ahead of the opening special stages that evening. Saturday features three tests driven twice ahead of Sunday’s final leg, which closes with the Wolf Power Stage. The 10 stages cover 260km.

The rally will run under strict national, local and FIA Covid-19 procedures and organisers will follow all protocols on whether fans will be allowed.

WRC Promoter managing director Jona Siebel was impressed by promoter AKK Sports’ determination to organise the rally at short notice.

“Since it was confirmed in December that Rally Sweden would not take place, we’ve been working hard with AKK Sports, the city of Rovaniemi and the enthusiasts there to try to make this event happen. It’s been a tough race against time and my thanks go to all involved,” he said.

“Although the rally starts in just 44 days, we know AKK will leave no stone unturned to ensure it reaches the same high standards as the traditional summertime Rally Finland.

“Winter rallies provide some of the sport’s most spectacular action. A winter wonderland of full snow and big snow banks lining the roads are a driver’s dream, so I think the WRC is in for a great time!”

AKK Sports CEO Riku Bitter is delighted at how quickly Rovaniemi embraced the idea of a WRC round at such short notice.

“We set out to look into the matter and explore our possibilities. Of the various different options, Rovaniemi, with its solid culture in organising winter rallies, good reputation as an international event city and large number of enthusiastic and experienced rally-makers stood out,” he said.

FIA rally director Yves Matton said: “With Arctic Rally Finland joining the WRC calendar, we will experience a rally in a region that has always made us dream and where conditions promise to be optimal for a snow event.

“Following the unfortunate cancellation of Rally Sweden in December, this is proof that with challenges can come opportunities.

“I would like to thank AKK and the organising team for their commitment, professionalism and determination, which enables them to make a second round in Finland a reality within a short time window. We will give all our help and support to ensure a great success for this new round.”

The revised calendar is subject to FIA approval.
21-01-13 Rally Estonia is Asahi Kasei Team Spirit Award winner
After pulling together their maiden WRC event in just 63 days, the Rally Estonia organising team has been voted as the 2020 recipient of the Asahi Kasei Team Spirit Award.

Drawing in thousands of votes on wrc.com, the Estonian organising team won out over Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT, Toksport and M-Sport Ford. In a season that was heavily affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, Estonia was brought onto the calendar as a replacement event, and was the first run under strict new Covid-19 regulations.

Urmo Aava, Rally Estonia Director: “This award is a great recognition to our team and Estonia. We are pleased that FIA and WRC Promoter believed and trusted us, it really means a lot. It was big effort to have spectators in Rally Estonia. It wasn’t easy for them, but they showed their best sides and we really appreciate it. Our team, all the people who have put their effort for ten years, thank you! All this couldn’t have happened without the support and cooperation from Estonian government and our partners. Last but not least, I would like to thank everyone who voted for Rally Estonia!”

With the eyes of the rallying world focused on the Baltic nation, Rally Estonia organisers successfully executed a Covid-safe event and did enough to earn themselves a spot back on the calendar for 2021.

The icing on the cake for the organisers, was seeing local hopeful Ott Ta¨nak standing atop the podium on Sunday afternoon.

Staying true to their team spirit, the organisers produced a thank you message featuring gratitude from a number of members of their team, who thanked the FIA, WRC Promoter, Estonian government and the fans for their support.

The second edition of Rally Estonia will run from 15-18 July.

21-01-08 Belgium added to 2021 FIA World Rally Championship
· Renties Ypres Rally Belgium joins 2021 WRC calendar
· Belgium hosts World Rally Championship for the first time
· Asphalt fixture replaces UK’s Rally Northern Ireland in August
· British event shelved due to continuing Covid challenges
· Focus turns towards securing 2022 WRC round in Northern Ireland

Belgium will stage a round of the FIA World Rally Championship for the first time after Renties Ypres Rally Belgium was today (Friday) added to the 2021 calendar.

The asphalt event will take place in August on a date to be confirmed. It will replace the UK’s proposed fixture in Northern Ireland, which has unfortunately been deferred for this year due to uncertainty over public funding relative to the Coronavirus pandemic.

Belgium will become the 35th nation to stage a WRC round – at the second time of asking ­– since the series started in 1973. Last November’s round in Ypres was called off due to Covid-19.

Ypres was first held in 1965 and has become established as one of Europe’s most demanding rallies. Previous winners include current Hyundai Motorsport driver and home hero Thierry Neuville in 2018 and team-mate Craig Breen the following year.

The rally will feature three days of competition with an atmospheric service park in Ypres’ historic Grote Markt.

Jona Siebel, managing director of WRC Promoter, the commercial rights holder for the championship, said Ypres would be an appetising encounter for teams, drivers and co-drivers.

“Ypres has been a hugely popular cornerstone of European rallying for more than half a century. Its elevation to the WRC will provide one of the season’s sternest challenges and I’m delighted the championship will finally visit Belgium after last year’s unfortunate delay,” he added.

“Its tricky mix of narrow asphalt lanes with big ditches lining the roads, allied with some stages in the dark and the potential for mixed weather, will provide plenty of thrills and spills for fans.”

Siebel acknowledged the difficulties of Rally Northern Ireland obtaining the required government support in such challenging times.

“It’s sad the WRC will not enjoy the beauty of Northern Ireland this year, but the pandemic continues to impact the global economy. Our enthusiasm for a WRC round there remains strong and we look forward to continuing our discussions for 2022,” he said.

FIA Rally Director Yves Matton said: “The 2021 calendar has been developed against the backdrop of the challenges brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic and we knew we would possibly face ongoing issues in this new year.”

“Bobby Willis and his team have put in a lot of work and efforts to bring the WRC to Northern Ireland and we’re very disappointed there will be no rally in the UK this year,” he added.

“It is a chance for Ypres Rally Belgium to step in after last year’s attempt. It will showcase the DNA of rally with a route that links Ypres to Spa-Francorchamps, two iconic venues of Belgian motorsport. I very much look forward to it.”

In October, Renties Ypres Rally Belgium was named on the WRC’s 2021 reserve list and Alain Penasse, president of event organiser Club Superstage, said the rally was ready to take its place on the calendar.

“Last year our volunteers proved they could switch quickly and organise a WRC event at short notice. Sadly it didn’t happen, but we will be delighted to welcome the WRC for the first time in mid-August,” he said.

“Broadly speaking, we will use last year’s proposed format again. This was clearly appreciated by the participants as the entry list for the 2020 edition looked impressive with 140 teams registered.”

Rally Northern Ireland promoter Bobby Willis explained that requisite public funding was unavailable to support a successful WRC event this year due to the uncertainty surrounding the pandemic.

“Tourism Northern Ireland recognises that hosting Rally Northern Ireland in 2021 represented a positive opportunity to profile the region globally, and would serve to celebrate Northern Ireland’s motorsport heritage.

“However, it feels Covid-19 could diminish the substantial economic benefits WRC historically bestows upon its host regions, and therefore investment would not represent best value for public money at this time.

“We must accept the situation for 2021 and focus on our discussions to explore the avenues for 2022,” he said.

The agreement in principle between WRC Promoter and Renties Ypres Rally Belgium is subject to FIA and ASN (national sporting authority) agreement.

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