Alexandre Béland Wins the 2012 Rallye de Charlevoix in Quebec, Canada

Alexandre Béland, co-driven by Lyne Murphy in a Swap Shop Subaru Impreza WRX, won this weekend’s Rallye de Charlevoix, presented by Coffrages Bouchard. The event was spectacular from start to finish with many changes among the leaders but by the end, Alexandre Béland earned his very first career victory when Steeve Hobbs, favourite to win the rally, abandoned on the last competitive stage.

Forty-two teams were entered, of which thirty-nine eventually took to the start, for this 2012 edition of the Rallye de Charlevoix, marking the final round in the Quebec Rally Championship’s season. Quebec championship contenders, as well as several regular Canadian national competitors and teams from the United States made up this year’s entry list. With perfect weather conditions (sun mixed with light rainfall at the end of the day), thousands of spectators were on hand to witness the battle between 2011 Quebec champion Steeve Hobbs, co-driven by Jean-Mathieu Tremblay in their Foresco Subaru Impreza WRX, and the team of Maxime Labrie/Anick Barette (also in a Subaru).

Leading after the first four competitive stages, Labrie was eventually sidelined by mechanical issues, leaving Hobbs at the top by himself, less than a minute ahead of the two Swap Shop drivers Alexandre Béland and Marc Bourassa. Managing his lead, Hobbs was headed for victory and a second consecutive Quebec title when he succumbed to heartbreaking mechanical failure on the final stage. A remarkable performance by Alexandre Béland, co-driven by the experienced Lyne Murphy, allowed him to slide into first place in his very first appearance at the Rallye de Charlevoix ! In the event’s record books, Béland’s name now follows Canadian and North American champion Antoine L’Estage, in only the novice’s sixth’s career rally.

Marc Bourassa, co-driven by Daniel Paquette, finished one minute and thirteen seconds behind in second place, giving Swap Shop the best imaginable double podium result. The overall podium was completed by Maxime Dubé and Éric Losier (Test Rallye Subaru). In addition, this team earned the Quebec Championship’s four-wheel drive class victory, finishing ahead of Belgian native Frank Lognay, co-driven by his daughter Larissa (Subaru), who clinches the 2012 Quebec 4WD Cup. American Tim Penasak rounds off the overall top 5 ahead of Ontarian Vittorio Barres and his Audi Quattro.

In the Quebec Championship’s Jon Nichols Cup (modified two-wheel drive), victory goes to Dave St-Pierre (and co-driver Simon Lortie in a Nissan Sentra). A superb victory for this novice driver who was expected to finish behind multi-time champions Simon Dubé and Sylvain Bazinet. Dubé, however, DNF’d with a broken axle while Bazinet lost several minutes on the final stage due to broken shocks. Bazinet nonetheless clinches the 2012 title for this category.

In the Québec Cup (Production class two-wheel drive cars), Carl Tremblay and Louis Dicaire (VW Golf) earned double honours, claiming the event win as well as the 2012 championship class. One of the most noticeable performances of the weekend goes to Charlevoix locals Richard Bouchard and Jasmin Gaudreau (Mazda Protege), who finished in a strong second place in front of their many fans.

Americans Erik Potts/Aaron Crescenti (Ford Focus) earned themselves the 2012 NASA Atlantic Rally Cup.

With 42 teams listed and 39 starters, this 2012 edition of the Rallye de Charlevoix was the rally, from all series, with the second highest number of participants this season. The organizing committee was thrilled with the weekend’s success, especially after requesting that the event be observed by the Canadian Association of Rally Sport (CARS) with the possibility of eventually integrating the rally back into the Canadian championship and the North American Rally Cup. « Our goal was to hold an event that was up to national standards and then to continue to develop the Rallye de Charlevoix so that it can be among the best in North America » confides co-ordinator Émilie Fortin, who is in her fourth year at the head of the organization. « After the comments we’ve received, I think we’re on the right track. 2012, which marked the twenty-fifth year since the inception of a rally in our region, was a major success for the Rallye de Charlevoix. It’s great motivation going forward and I think that more than ever, our event has a wonderful future ahead of it » she concludes.

For more information on the event and its results, visit the official site http://www.rallyecharlevoix.com. The next edition of the Rallye de Charlevoix will take place in October, 2013.

Top 10 at the Rallye de Charlevoix 2012, presented by Coffrages Bouchard :
1) A. Béland/L. Murphy (Subaru Impreza WRX) – 1h11’24”
2) M. Bourassa/D. Paquette (Subaru Impreza WRX) – 1h12’37’’
3) M. Dubé/E. Losier (Subaru Impreza WRX) – 1h16’21’’
4) F. Lognay/L. Lognay (Subaru Impreza WRX) – 1h18’19’’
5) T. Penasak/M. Goldfarb (Subaru Impreza WRX) – 1h18’43’’
6) V. Bares/P. Lévesque (Audi Quattro 4000) – 1h22’14’’
7) P. Goulet/C. Isabelle (Subaru Impreza WRX) – 1h24’05’’
8) D. St-Pierre/S. Lortie (Nissan Sentra) – 1h24’36’’
9) C. Tremblay/L. Dicaire (Volkswagen Golf GTI) – 1h25’08’’
10) P. Marcoux/C. Villeneuve (Subaru Impreza WRX) – 1h27’31’’

2012 Quebec Champions :
4 Wheel Drive Cup : Frank Lognay and Larissa Lognay (Subaru)
Jon Nichols Cup : Sylvain Bazinet and Pat Lavigne (Honda)
Québec Cup : Carl Tremblay and Louis Dicaire (Volkswagen)

– Credit: Photo by Marie-Lyse Tremblay/poleposition.ca.

Cronin tops the lot for the BRC in 2012

Keith Cronin has more than an historic third MSA British Rally Championship title to celebrate this season, the Irishman also takes the RAVENOL OILS BRC Privateers Cup award, the second time he has been top privateer in four years.

The award, which includes £2,000 of product sponsorship for 2013, is for competitors who are not included in one of this season’s six official teams and was reintroduced in 2008 after a ten year break, before being sponsored by RAVENOL OILS for the first time this year.

Cronin begun the season at the wheel of a Renault Twingo, initially as a one-off promotion, but despite retiring, he was bitten by the bug and made strenuous efforts to find a top flight drive for the rest of the season.

Although run by the vastly experienced Autosport Technology team from round two, he and Jarkko Nikara opted not to register as official team-mates, instead competing directly against one-another for outright victories – no team orders here!

However it was Northern Irishman Mark Donnelly who was top scoring privateer on Rallye Sunseeker back in February, tying for the lead with Nikara after nine stages, the Finn’s engine eventually crying enough.

Cronin took his first Privateers win on Rally North Wales, narrowly missing out on overall event victory on his first outing in his Citroën DS3. But north of the border proved a hotbed of talent again in 2012; County Antrim driver Desi Henry’s second place in Bournemouth, coupled with fourth placed privateer in Wales elevated him to the top of the points table, four points ahead of Peter Taylor.

By the time of the Pirelli Rally, Cronin’s second victory had moved him within striking distance of Taylor and Henry, Nikara and Donnelly tied for fourth with a non-finish apiece to contend with.

On the asphalt of round four, the Jim Clark Rally, the Irish locked out the top three on the Privateers podium, Cronin followed by an improving Jonny Greer and a second bronze finish for Mark Donnelly. The result was enough to put Cronin on top, Henry dropping to second in the tables after an off cost him several places.

Now fully into his stride, it was left to Cronin to take the spoils on the final two rounds, Carryduff’s Jonny Greer coming closest to the West Cork man, with Henry taking third despite another off that ended his assault on home asphalt.

The 2012 RAVENOL OILS BRC Privateers Cup trophy will be presented to Keith Cronin at the MSA British Rally Championship’s end of season awards ceremony on November 17th.

Ahead of the prestigious awards evening RAVENOL will be at the Silverstone MotorsportUK event at Silverstone Race Circuit on Saturday and Sunday 3 – 4 November where the RAVENOL OILS supported Spirit of Motorsport UK award winner will be announced.

Fitting finale for the 2012 South African Rally Championship next weekend

In a fitting finale to the 2012 South African National Rally Championship the two crews who have dominated the season to date will vie for the honour of claiming the title at the last event, the Garden Route Rally in the Western Cape on November 2 and 3.

Mark Cronje and Robin Houghton (Sasol Racing Ford Fiesta) lead Johnny Gemmell and Carolyn Swan (Castrol Team Toyota Auris) by 20 points after seven rounds with a maximum of 25 points still on offer. Both need to drop their worst round of the season and right now this would see a 10-point swing in favour of Gemmell and Swan.

Their domination of the championship in their S2000 four-wheel- drive cars is illustrated by the fact that between them they have won six of the seven rounds so far (Cronje four and Gemmell two) and 46 of the 81 special stages (Cronje 34 and Gemmell 12).

Whichever way it goes, history is in the making. Neither driver has won the championship before and Swan would become the first woman co-driver champion since Minota van Bergen in 1970. Houghton is the reigning co-driver champion. Toyota, aiming for a record 15th successive manufacturers championship and 21st altogether, trails Ford, who has not won since 1976, by 18 points.

Gemmell, who has finished runner-up on three occasions since 2001, has kept his hopes alive with two wins and a second in the last four events, but opened the door for Cronje with a non-finish in the most recent round in Limpopo a month ago, which was won by Cronje.

Although no other teams are in a position to catch the leading pair in the championship, there is a tight battle for the final place on the podium. Jon Williams and Cobus Vrey (Sasol Ford Fiesta), who are the only other crew to have won an event, are 42 points behind the leaders but just a single point ahead of multiple former champions Jan Habig and Robert Paisley (Basil Read Ford Fiesta). Williams will be partnered by father Doug in the final round.

With pride at stake and a final chance to wear the victors’ laurels this season, strong performances can be expected from a number of potential winners. Former champions Hergen Fekken and Pierre Arries and BP VW team-mates Enzo Kuun and Guy Hodgson have had a lean season so far in the new S2000 Polo, but have shown good form in recent events, with both crews posting a second place in the last two rounds.

Also worth watching are Leeroy Poulter and Elvéne Coetzee (Castrol Toyota Auris), Hans Weijs and Bjorn Degandt (BP VW Polo), Charl Wilken and Greg Godrich (Basil Read Ford Fiesta), Jean-Pierre Damseaux and Grant Martin (Team Total Toyota Auris), and Giniel de Villiers and Celeste Snyders (Imperial Toyota Auris).

While Gugu Zulu and Carl Peskin (BP VW Polo) have already wrapped up the inaugural S2000 Challenge for older specification four-wheel drive cars after four wins to date, Namibians Wilro Dippenaar and Morne du Toit (McCarthy Toyota/PZN Panelbeaters Toyota RunX) will be keen to add to their two category wins. Teenager Henk Lategan and Barry White (Q8 Oils VW Polo), who are the only other crew to have won a round, will sit out the final round as Lategan is writing his matric exams.

In the Two Wheel Drive Championship for S1600 cars all eyes will be on the battle between championship leaders Craig Trott and Robbie Coetzee (Team Total Toyota RunX) and Ashley Haigh-Smith and Craig Parry (Castrol/BP Ford Fiesta R2).

The drivers’ title is a straight fight between the veteran former champion Trott and the up-and-coming youngster Haigh-Smith. With one class win to Haigh-Smith’s two, Trott enjoys a significant 18-point advantage over his younger rival and will be relying on all his experience and guile to claim the silverware.

The situation is slightly different in the co-drivers’ championship. Kes Naidoo, who has navigated for both Haigh-Smith and Tjaart Conradie (Galvadip Toyota Auris), is 23 points behind Coetzee and has a slim mathematical chance of overhauling him.

The S1600 class has produced six different winners to date with only Haigh-Smith winning more than once. Contenders in this final round will include previous winners Clint Weston (Reef Tankers Citroen C2 R2), Guy Botterill (Yato Tools Toyota RunX) and Nic van der Westhuizen (SA Earthworks Ford Fiesta R2). Reading the notes for them will be Pierre Jordaan, Simon Vacy-Lyle and Stefan Cilliers respectively.

The Garden Route Rally starts from the Garden Route Mall outside George at 12:00 on Friday, November 2 following a qualifying stage at K1 Quarry at 09:30 that will determine the start order. The first day will consist of five special stages and will finish at the Wilderness Beach Hotel. There will be six special stages on Saturday starting from the Wilderness Beach Hotel at 07.00 and finishing back at the hotel in the afternoon.

Your insight into the world of rally, part 255

Welcome to issue 255 of HANDBRAKES & HAIRPINS, your favourite free source of rally entertainment!

To download this week’s issue, please click here: https://handbrakeshairpins.files.wordpress.com/2012/10/hh-255.pdf

As always, please enjoy this week’s read!

Yours in Rallying,

Evan Rothman (Editor) and Eva Kovkova (Photojournalist)

Luca Rossetti wins 2012 Turkish Rally Championship

The Italian driver with Turkish license, Luca Rossetti, the three times European Rally Champion and former Italian champion, won the Yesil Bursa Rallisi on Sunday, the last round of the Turkish Rally Championship.

With this victory, Luca Rossetti and his co-driver Matteo Chiarcossi won the 2012 Turkish Rally Championship. With their Skoda Fabia S2000 from Pegasus Racing – Skoda Turkey – Yuce Auto, they obtained the fourth victory of the season in the Turkish Championship, a series consisting of seven rallies. For Luca Rossetti and Matteo Chiarcossi, it was a great challenge: a whole new championship with very competitive and aggressive opponents, the closest rival in the fight for the 2012 turkish title, Yagiz Avci, winner of the 2012 Yalta Rally (Intercontinental Rally Challenge), with his Ford Fiesta S2000 of Team Castrol Ford Team Turkiye, was certainly the quickest opponent, but the three-time European champion, once the engines were fired made the most of his Skoda S2000, giving another satisfaction to United Business, the company that takes care of his sports management.

“When at the beginning of the year we were offered to take part in the Turkish championship with Skoda,” said Pier Liberali of United Business, “we had no doubt in giving an affirmative answer, we knew that for Rossetti all was new, but we also knew that for him, although difficult it was not an obstacle nor a problem to tackle rallies never seen previuosly, he is used to it and has raced and won all around Europe, often competing in a race for the first time. For my company an unforgettable moment was Ypres Rally, where Luca won on his debut. He is a professional driver, very fast, solid and constant, we all had great trust and once again he did not disappoint us, the goal was to win and Luca and Matteo reached it.”

Luca Rossettisaid: “This title has a very special meaning for me, to win in a country like Turkey where I have many friends and fans is beautiful. I am aware that I would not have been successful had I not had the support of Pegasus Racing – Skoda Turkey – Yuce Auto and Pirelli tyres which were very performing at all times and in all race conditions. A big thank you for the title of 2012 Turkish Rally Champion must go to all the advertising partners who have accompanied us during the season, this success came also thanks to them and to the work of the team that gave me a performing and reliable car. After a victory everything seems to have been easy, but winning is never easy, my opponents were very determined and only after the last race was I able to achieve the goal, to all of them, loyal competitors of the turkish championship I send my compliments, they were fast and showed great sportsmanship and fair play, I was very well received and this is all to their honour.”

Matteo Chiarcossi added: “I am happy for me, for Luca, for the team and for all our partners, a large group which by working in harmony and with great dedication through to the last event has achieved this title, we all did our best and the result came, we encountered as expected many difficulties, we have overcome them all working hard, for this reason being 2012 Turkish Champions tastes even sweeter.”

Ogier gives WRC Academy youngsters a lesson

As the FIA WRC Academy crews continued their ‘meet the driver’ sessions at Rallye de France – Alsace last weekend, the youngsters had the opportunity to put their questions to one of the strongest and most promising partnerships in the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) – Volkswagen Motorsport’s Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia.

As Rallye de France victors in 2011 and one of the most talented up-and-coming personalities in the sport, Ogier was the obvious choice for the WRC Academy competitors to probe with their questions in France.

Having claimed five WRC wins last year, the Frenchman made the move to Volkswagen for the 2012 season and went on to secure the highest ever WRC finish for a S2000 specification car when he piloted his Skoda Fabia S2000 to sixth place overall on the Tarmac round in Germany and fifth on the gravel in Sardinia last weekend.

Sharing their experience and advice, the pairing spoke of their satisfaction and excitement regarding the development of Volkswagen’s Polo WRC – behind the wheel of which the Frenchman will contest the 2013 season and has already racked-up more than 5,000 km of testing.

Ogier also recounted how he progressed in his early career. With the support of the FFSA, the then 22-year-old paid just €20 to enter a selection process that eventually won him a funded season in the French Peugeot Cup. Having had this experience, he was well placed to comment on the importance of one-make series such as the WRC Academy – allowing pure talent to make the difference when all involved compete behind the wheel of equally-matched machinery.

In addition the pairing had a few tips on-hand for the WRC Academy competitors as they embarked on the final all-asphalt round of the season. Principally, the duo warned that caution with cornering and cuts was crucial to securing a strong result and explained how best to get heat into the tyres on the closed-surface roads – an art which could prove pivotal given the close-fought nature of the one-make series.

Supported by Ford Racing in Europe and with control tyres from Pirelli, the WRC Academy competitors will next contest the season finale in Spain where they will be looking to put the Volkswagen Motorsport pairing’s advice into practice.

Timo Van der Marel said: “It was really cool to chat with Sebastian [Ogier] and Julien [Ingrassia]. They’re both really good guys and had a lot to say. Sebastian spoke about how he got to where he is now, and the unusual path he took to get there. A lot of people thought it would not be possible to get to the top of the sport through the route he took – with very little personal money – but he let his talent do the talking and proved them all wrong! Julien also gave us some advice on how to tackle the stages in France this year. He told us about the poles which are placed on some corners to prevent cutting which meant that we were even more prepared when it came to the recce. The most interesting thing they had to say was when they were comparing all the different cars that they had driven in recent years and how the approach to set-up and driving style differs slightly with each car. It was really encouraging to know that even the guys at the top of the field, in some of the best cars around, still have to contend with the same things we do!”

Sébastien Ogier said: “It seems that the drivers and co-drivers [in the FIA WRC Academy] intend to make the grade! To succeed, they must know each area of rally; not only driving the cars, but learning about sponsorship, about fitness, about everything. The questions they asked were very intelligent and it is a great opportunity for these young guys to partake in a series such as the WRC Academy. I started with a Peugeot Cup in France where we all had the same car with no possibility of making changes to ride height or suspension, it was really basic. In the beginning, you have to prove that you are able to be fast with this car and to adapt to the situation and to be better than the others who have just the same as you. In the beginning, this is really good because you know that everybody has the same and that your talent just has to make the difference.”

Hirvonen victorious in Sardinia

Mikko Hirvonen and Jarmo Lehtinen claimed their first WRC victory in 2012 with their Citroën Total World Rally Team. The Finnish pairing stormed to a one minute lead and took it to the finish line in the WRC Rallye Italia Sardegna this past weekend. In a shake-up of the factory crews, with numerous big name teams crashing out of the three day rally, it was Evgeny Novikov/Ilka Minor and team-mates Ott Tanak/Kuldar Sikk (M-Sport Ford World Rally Team), clinched fantastic second and third overall for their best-ever results to date.

The rocks and stones on the 16 gravel stages upset the leader board for this the penultimate round of the 2013 World Rally Championship.

This is Hirvonen’s first win with the Citroën Total World Rally Team, and now jumps into second place in the Drivers’ Championship standings behind team-mate Sebastien Loeb.

Mads Ostberg clinched fourth overall, and moved to third in the Drivers’ Championship standings to be the highest placed Ford driver in the series ahead of his factory-backed Blue Oval compatriots.

Sebastien Loeb crashed out of the event on Friday’s SS3, breaking his steering column to rule him out of the event. The Ford works crews of Jari-Matti Latvala and Petter Solberg also suffered on the second day of the event, with Latvala hitting a bank and damaging the radiator on his Fiesta in SS4, while Solberg went out in SS7 after hitting a rock. Hirvonen was left to coast to the finish, with over a minute lead on the rest of the field.

Notably, Sebastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (Volkswagen Motorsport Skoda Fabia S2000) claimed an overall stage, the first time an S2000 has achieved this in the history of the WRC, and went on to finish a record-setting fifth overall. The most stage wins at this event went to Ostberg, after yet another amazing drive from the Norwegian ace.

The final round of the FIA World Rally Championship takes the contenders to Salou for the mixed surface Rally RACC Catalunya-Costa Daurada – Rally de España (8-11 November).

Final Overall Classification:
01) M. Hirvonen
Citroen Total WRT DS3 WRC – 03h 23m 54.9s
02) E. Novikov
M-Sport Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC + 01m 20.6s
03) O. Tanak
M-Sport Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC + 02m 21.1s
04) M. Ostberg
Adapta WRT Fiesta RS WRC + 03m 42.9s
05) S. Ogier
VW Motorsport Skoda Fabia S2000 + 04m 27.5s
06) C. Atkinson
WRC MINI Team Portugal John Cooper Works WRC + 05m 22.2s
07) A. Mikkelsen
VW Motorsport Skoda Fabia S2000 + 06m 12.5s
08) M. Prokop
Czech Ford National Team Fiesta RS WRC + 09m 29.3s
09) P. Solberg
Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC + 09m 52.3s
10) L. Pedersoli
Citroen DS3 WRC + 20m 35.6s