Your FREE insight into the world of rally, part 262

Welcome to issue 262 of HANDBRAKES & HAIRPINS, your favourite free source of rally entertainment!

To download this week’s issue, please click here:

For ANY back issues, please send a request to and we will gladly send you the PDF files.

As always, please enjoy this week’s read!

Yours in Rallying,

Evan Rothman (Editor) and Eva Kovkova (Photojournalist)

Cover 262

Unveiled: The Volkswagen Polo R WRC

As of 2013, Volkswagen will line up in the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC), starting with the iconic Rally Monte Carlo (15 – 20 January). The driving crews, the final design of the 315hp rally Polo was presented to about 250 guests and journalists in Monaco this weekend. A good five weeks before its first competitive outing at the same location, the Polo R WRC developed for the World Rally Championship rolled over a symbolic starting ramp to huge applause in front of the famous Monte Carlo Casino, signifying the start of a new era for Volkswagen in motorsport.

“The launch of the Polo R WRC, which is now ready and raring to go, heralds a new era in motorsport for Volkswagen: the FIA World Rally Championship offers Volkswagen the opportunity to prove its sporty qualities in an environment, in which our cars have always been at home: on real streets,” says Dr. Ulrich Hackenberg, Member of the Board of Management responsible for development. “In doing so, we are not using extraordinary prototypes, but a Polo based on the standard production car. This proximity to the product and customer played an important role in our decision to commit to this form of global motorsport.”

“Volkswagen has prepared intensively for the World Rally Championship, and every single member of the team can hardly wait to finally get stuck into the competition with the Polo R WRC,” says Volkswagen Motorsport Director Jost Capito. “The World Rally Championship is a new challenge for us, and one that we are confronting with a host of good ideas and a strong team. Whether Sébastien Ogier, Jari-Matti Latvala, Andreas Mikkelsen or the team in the background, we have first-class personnel on board. 17 months of intensive development, testing and a lot of innovation have gone into the Polo R WRC. For what it’s worth, the Polo is also, in my eyes, a beautiful and spectacular rally car.”

A select driving line-up: Sébastien Ogier together with co-driver Julien Ingrassia (both France), and Jari-Matti Latvala and his co-driver Miikka Anttila (both Finland) will line up for Volkswagen with the Polo R WRC in the 2013 World Rally Championship. Ogier/Ingrassia and Latvala/Anttila will start the season on equal footing. Both have seven World Rally Championship race wins to their name. “After over a year and a half of preparations, I can hardly wait to pull up to the start of the ‘Monte’ with the Polo R WRC and see where we stand compared to the opposition,” says Sébastien Ogier, who was signed by Volkswagen in November 2011 and for whom the ‘Monte’ represents a home rally. His team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala, who finished third in the World Championship this year and is new to the Volkswagen team, adds: “For me, Volkswagen is the best option as I strive to close in on my personal goal: the World Championship title. The team has impressed me with its determination and the pleasant way in which everyone treats each other. Every individual is absolutely committed to helping the whole team be successful. I am really excited about the Monte.”

As of the Rally Portugal, the fourth round of the World Championship calendar, Volkswagen plans to run a third car. At the wheel will be two-time Intercontinental Rally Challenge (IRC) champion, Volkswagen Junior driver Andreas Mikkelsen (Norway, new co-driver: Mikko Markkula, Finland). “Volkswagen is a very goal-oriented team, which has developed beyond measure during the preparations for the World Rally Championship,” says Mikkelsen. “The team left nothing to chance during the ‘Dakar’ project, and demonstrated the right approach to motorsport. I can learn a lot here and achieve a lot in the future.”

As such, Volkswagen has assembled a driving squad that boasts both experience and ambition: at 28, 27 and 23 years of age, Ogier, Latvala and Mikkelsen are not only among the youngest, but also the fastest drivers on the rally scene.

An XXL challenge: the searing heat of Central America on the one hand, the icy temperatures of Scandinavia on the other – the FIA World Rally Championship not only combines climatic extremes in one motorsport world championship, but also throws up a diverse range of different surfaces, all of which must be taken into consideration when developing a car for the World Rally Championship. The surfaces range from asphalt, gravel, mud and scree to ice and snow. The series is held in high esteem: alongside Formula One, the World Rally Championship is regarded as one of the most important global series in automobile racing. Together with the Le Mans 24 Hours, the “Indy 500” and the Monaco Grand Prix, the Rally Monte Carlo is one of the most famous motorsport events in the world.

Volkswagen R GmbH lends its name to the Polo R WRC. The company is responsible within Volkswagen for the manufacture of exclusive, sporty cars, with an emphasis on performance, fittings and quality. The brand has demonstrated its close relationship with motorsport since 2010: R GmbH was also a title patron from the launch of the Volkswagen Scirocco R-Cup. Next phase of a close partnership: the large Red Bull logos on the Polo R WRC not only represent a sponsorship agreement, but an intense cooperation between Volkswagen and the energy drink manufacturer. Volkswagen and Red Bull share the same philosophy when it comes to the marketing and positioning of the sport – and have done for several years: the bulls were also a prominent feature on three victorious Race Touaregs during the “Dakar” project. Red Bull juniors “powered by Volkswagen” also line up in various Formula 3 racing series. Castrol is another long-term partner of Volkswagen in motorsport: after joint projects like the Rally Dakar, Nürburgring 24 Hours and Formula 3, the renowned British manufacturer of automobile lubricants is now also taking the next big step together with Volkswagen. As Tyre Partner, Volkswagen Motorsport works closely with Michelin – the French manufacturer has an enormous wealth of experience in the World Rally Championship.

Handbrakes & Hairpins is a FREE weekly eMagazine. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for the latest news and entertainment from the world of rallying.

Rally, Vehicle

WINNERS: H&H’s WRC 3 video game competition announced!


Handbrakes & Hairpins held a competition to give away three copies of the new WRC 3 video game to readers. We have selected the three winners randomly, one from our Twitter feed, our Facebook Page and from our e-mail subscribers.

The winners are… MelliCar, Warren K Pryce and Ercun Sefilik. Congratulations!

We will contact you shortly for your postal details.

The winning starts once again, with a brand new competition on Monday. For this, we have a great prize lined up. You will need your thinking caps for this one, though. Brush up on your Google skills and WRC history…

Northern Ireland’s Mark Donnelly claims Pirelli UK Star Driver title

Mark Donnelly has won this year’s prestigious Pirelli UK Star Driver shootout after impressing a panel of four judges during a two-day showdown based at the iconic motorsport complex of Sweet Lamb in mid Wales.

Donnelly, who won the opening round of this year’s Pirelli-supported British Rally Championship, beat off stiff competition from six other finalists to claim one of the most coveted prizes in British motorsport. The 21-year-old from Omagh in Northern Ireland wins a once in a lifetime opportunity to take part in a full British Rally Championship campaign courtesy of the series’ official tyre supplier, Pirelli. Next year he will compete on all seven British rounds at the wheel of a Citroen DS3 R3 from David Greer Motorsport.

Due to run for its sixth consecutive year, the Pirelli Star Driver programme has helped a number of promising drivers in their quest to become an international rally star. Previous winners include recently-crowned WRC Academy champion Elfyn Evans who is a perfect example of a driver who has used the support and guidance of Pirelli in order to compete on the world stage.

Tom Cave, Matthew Cathcart, Mark Donnelly, Desi Henry, Jussi Kumpumaki, Osian Pryce and recently-crowned British Junior Rally Champion Garry Pearson were all competing for the ultimate prize.

The finalists were assessed on their abilities to drive a Citroen DS3 R3 on a two-mile stage at Sweet Lamb: the same complex that is used as a rally stage in the FIA World Rally Championship. The drivers were also tested on their driving skills, media awareness, event strategy, technical ability and future potential.

A panel of four judges including World Rally Championship co-driver Chris Patterson, renowned motoring journalist Jerry Williams, Finland’s Risto Laine and Citroen Racing’s Jean Francois Lienere assessed the finalists. The panel reached a unanimous decision that Donnelly deserved to win this year’s shootout based on his speed, technical knowledge and overall potential.

“I’m over the moon to have won here today, I really didn’t expect it,” said newly-crowned Pirelli UK Star Driver, Donnelly. “It’s been a really tough couple of days with some very slippery conditions and I honestly think that it could have gone any way. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Pirelli, the British Rally Championship, Citroen and David Greer Motorsport for this fantastic opportunity. If you look at some of the people who have won with Pirelli before, it is a real honour to be chosen as this year’s Pirelli Star Driver.”

Pirelli UK Motorsport Operations Manager Matthew Corby commented: “On behalf of Pirelli, I would like to congratulate Mark on being crowned the new Pirelli Star Driver. We feel he is a very worthy winner and we’re looking forward to working with him over the next 12 months. The level of competition at this year’s shootout was extremely high and none of our finalists should leave Wales feeling disappointed: any one of them would genuinely have been fit for winning the prize. Unfortunately there can be only one winner and Mark impressed the panel of judges due to his skill behind the wheel, motivation and overall ability. The Pirelli Star Driver prize has proved itself as an excellent stepping stone for promising drivers to further their rally career and I am in no doubt that Mark will be in with a strong chance of winning next year’s British Rally Championship.”

Handbrakes & Hairpins is a FREE weekly eMagazine. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for the latest news and entertainment from the world of rallying.


Your insight into the world of rally, part 261

Welcome to issue 261 of HANDBRAKES & HAIRPINS, your favourite free source of rally entertainment!

To download this week’s issue, please click here:

As always, please enjoy this week’s read!

Yours in Rallying,

Evan Rothman (Editor) and Eva Kovkova (Photojournalist)

Cover 261

Jännerrallye stages will thrill, says ERC’s Nicolas

Next year’s FIA European Rally Championship will get off to a spectacular start if the stages of the Jännerrallye are anything to go by.

That’s the view of ERC General Co-ordinator Jean Pierre Nicolas, a former international-level rally winner, following a drive through the Austrian event’s stages earlier last week.

The 30th running of the Freistadt-based rally will launch the new-look ERC from 3-5 January 2013 and Nicolas says the stages will provide the perfect setting for the season opener, which took place in snowy and icy conditions when it appeared on the ERC schedule for the first time earlier this year.

“Quite simply the stages are beautiful,” said Nicolas, who was accompanied by Eurosport Events’ Director of Editorial and Programme Development Gilbert Roy on a fact-finding mission to Freistadt. “The scenery is spectacular, the stages are great for the drivers, they are smooth, they are not bumpy at all and there is plenty of wide open areas to go through. There is definitely some serious competition ahead.”

With the event being filmed and post-produced for television coverage by Eurosport Events, the new ERC promoter, Nicolas and Roy also used the visit to earmark several static camera locations and determine some of the flight paths to be used by the helicopter that will follow the action and capture dramatic images during the course of the event.

Entries for the Jännerrallye close at 16:00hrs local time on 15 December and more information is available from

All crews with cars conforming to FIA Regional Rally Championship regulations will be eligible for ERC points with no registration required. Teams will have to register for the new Teams’ Championship, however, and can do so by visiting

Handbrakes & Hairpins is a FREE weekly eMagazine. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for the latest news and entertainment from the world of rallying.

CONFIRMED: Petter Solberg is OUT of the WRC!

For the first time in over a decade, the FIA World Championship will be without the 2003 World Champion Petter Solberg. A decision was made today that Solberg will step away from the series for now in order to explore and direct focus in a different direction in his successful and decorated career.

It’s now realised and decided, that there will not be a WRC program for the 38-year old in 2013.

“I am so grateful and happy for what I have experienced during my 15 years in the WRC,says Petter. “For now it’s really quite sad, you know, I would have loved to have driven for a few more years, but I do realise there will not be a WRC program for me next year. I have said I am willing to drive for free, but at this point, I will not pay to drive. This is not to say that you will never again see me in a WRC car, but for now, I think it’s best.”

“I know I am good enough to fight in the top for many years still, but I fully understand the difficult financial situation for the 2013 season for M-Sport, so I wish the team all the best in the future,” says Petter.

A career which reached it’s highest point in 2003 when Solberg won the WRC Drivers Title for Subaru, started with Ford in 1999. Just 5 years after his Title run, Subaru withdrew from the Championship and Petter formed his own WRC team The Petter Solberg World Rally Team while driving multiple privately owned Citroens to stage wins and podiums. A factory supported Citroen Xcara, followed by a C4 WRC, and on to the now current DS3 with factory support in 2011 which was the DS3’s 1st year in competition.

For 2012, Petter held down the 2nd Works/Factory seat for the Ford World Rally Team with Jari Matti Latvala, where he claimed 3rd on the podium in his first outing of the season in Monte Carlo. In total for 2012, Solberg finished 4th in the Drivers Championship with 124pts, and claimed 5 podiums over 13 rounds with plenty of spectacular memories set in stone as always.

“The sport has given me so much, but I want to give a special thank you to all of my fans that have supported me through thick and thin, and given me such a great feeling about what I do, and for being a large reason of why I do it. I do hope you all understand, and I hope you’ll continue to follow me on to my next venture. I promise to bring you something worthy of this. My team and I are hard at work as you read this, and we can’t wait to let you know what are plans are, Petter ends with a smile and that well known glimpse in the eye.”

WRC Teams throughout the years:
1999-2000 Ford World Rally Team
2000-2008 Subaru World Rally Team
2009-2011 Petter Solberg World Rally Team
2012 Ford World Rally Team

WRC Medals:
2002 Silver
2003 World Rally Champion
2004 Silver
2005 Silver
2010 Bronze

Handbrakes & Hairpins is a FREE weekly eMagazine. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for the latest news and entertainment from the world of rallying.