Before wrapping up its 2014 European Championship campaign on home soil in Corsica early next month, the Peugeot Rally Academy travels to Switzerland this week for the 55th Rallye International du Valais. Craig Breen and Kevin Abbring will be looking to steer the official Peugeot 208 T16s to the car’s second ERC success of the year on the twisty Alpine stages.

The Rallye du Valais: happy hunting ground for Peugeot Sport…

The penultimate round of the 2014 FIA ERC features a total competitive distance of 260km divided into 19 stages around the event’s base in Martigny. Victory for the 208 T16 this weekend would see the car join the 207 S2000 (1st in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011 and 2012) and the 206 S1600 (1st in 2004) on the list of the Swiss event’s past winners. In addition to the Peugeot Rally Academy pair, there will also be 208 T16s in the hands of Bruno Magalhães and Jonathan Hirschi (HRT Rally Team), plus a Peugeot UK-backed 208 R2 for Chris Ingram (Peugeot UK) in the FIA ERC Junior class. The total number of entries is 83. image

Craig Breen and Scott Martin: still in contention for the le title

Since his victory at the beginning of the season in Greece, Craig Breen has had something of a troubled season. Even so, the Irishman is still in contention for the 2014 title and is particularly buoyed up ahead of the Swiss round. He feels at home on asphalt and will benefit from his knowledge of the rally acquired thanks to the third place he scored last year in the Peugeot Rally Academy’s Peugeot 207 S2000. He is currently 49 points short of the current ERC leader Esapekka Lappi, however, so his only tactic can be to aim for first place. Along with his co-driver Scott Martin, he is pleased with the way last week’s pre-event test went and is confident that he can count on a competitive, reliable package in Switzerland. image

Kevin Abbring: hungry for victory…

The Dutch youngster and his co-driver Sebastian Marshall travel to the event after their only previous participation in 2010 intent on claiming a top result. Kevin Abbring’s ERC record so far this season includes second place in the Azores and 18 stage victories after featuring in the fight for victory on all of his outings. He feels particularly comfortable behind the wheel of the 208 T16, as demonstrated by his RC2 class success on the WRC’s Rallye de France earlier this month, so he is understandably hoping to put the cat among the pigeons once more this weekend. image

Ten victories already for the 208 T16 across Europe and a national title in Italy…

The Peugeot 208 T16 enjoyed an emphatic maiden campaign in the Italian Rally Championship where Peugeot Sport Italia’s Paolo Andreucci took the car to four victories from eight. He clinched his first national crown just days ago on the Rally Due Valli, the final round of the year. The 208 T16, Peugeot Sport’s latest rally challenger, has also enjoyed success in Portugal (with Bruno Magalhães), Denmark (Christian Jensen) and Slovenia (Claudio De Cecco).

F1Weekly podcast # 666

Clark talks about his deep depression over the fact that Fernando may not be on the grid next season, we have Motorsports Mondial with El Guru and an interview with young American driver Santino Ferrucci and here is some news on Max Verstappen from Hockenheim…

Max Verstappen (Van Amersfoort Racing, 1:32.002 minutes) set the fastest time in first qualifying and thus claimed pole position for the 31st season race of the FIA Formula 3 European Championship. The 17-year-old is one of the three candidates who are battling for second place in the FIA Formula 3 European Championship. On his best lap of the 4.575 kilometres long Hockenheimring Baden-Württemberg, he was 0.018 seconds faster than Lucas Auer (kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport, 1:32.020 minutes). Tom Blomqvist (Jagonya Ayam with Carlin, 1:32.076 minutes), who also still has chances of claiming second place in the drivers’ standings, follows in third place, 0.074 seconds down on pace-setter Verstappen.

Halfway through first qualifying, the battle for pole position became intense: Blomqvist had just claimed the top position from Verstappen and Auer was biding his time in third place. Soon after that, the 20-year-old Austrian moved up into the lead, but Blomqvist and Verstappen also continued to run fast. Six minutes later, the Dutchman succeeded in toppling Auer from the leading position while Blomqvist stayed in third place. This order remained unchanged until the end of qualifying, so that Verstappen secured himself pole position for the first race of the final weekend of the 2014 FIA Formula 3 European Championship.

Italian Antonio Giovinazzi (Jagonya Ayam with Carlin, 1:32.341 minutes) and Jordan King (Carlin, 1:32.379 minutes) from Great Britain in fourth and fifth place also succeeded in keeping the already-crowned FIA Formula 3 European Champion, Frenchman Esteban Ocon (Prema Powerteam, 1:32.414 minutes) at bay. Swede Felix Rosenqvist (kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport, 1:32.485 minutes) ended up seventh from Indonesian Sean Gelael (Jagonya Ayam with Carlin, 1:32.535 minutes), Félix Serrallés (Team West-Tec F3, 1:32.676 minutes) from Puerto Rico and US-American Gustavo Menezes (Van Amersfoort Racing, 1:32.760 minutes) rounded out the top ten.

Max Verstappen (Van Amersfoort Racing): “Qualifying went well. It was pretty close between the three of us in front, but my lap time wasn’t so bad and, of course, I am delighted with my pole position. The track is very demanding for the tyres, so you don’t have many laps to set a fast time. For me, it worked out quite well today.”

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Status Grand Prix takeover Caterham Racing and joins GP2 Series

GP2 organisers confirm that UK based GP3 team Status Grand Prix have signed an agreement to acquire Caterham Racing. The GP2 team will compete as Caterham Racing for the remainder of the 2014 season, and will become Status Grand Prix in 2015. The current driver line up is unaffected by the takeover for the final round at Yas Marina Circuit.
Status Grand Prix have been successfully racing in GP3 Series since the category’s inception and thus become the sixth outfit to run in both Series. By acquiring the Caterham Racing team and personnel, Status Grand Prix are building on the Malaysian squad’s strengths and experience.
GP2 Series CEO Bruno Michel said: “I am pleased to welcome Status Grand Prix to GP2 Series. They’ve been in GP3 since the beginning and have been successful over the past five seasons. I have no doubt that with the help and the experience of the current staff, they will be able to achieve the same level of performance in GP2 and will adapt quickly to the demands of the category.”
Status GP team principal Teddy Yip said: “Status Grand Prix has been part of the GP2 family for 5 years and, having been multiple race winners in GP3, we have always had the ambition to move up into the senior formula when the time is right. The opportunity to take over an established and highly-regarded team such as Caterham Racing makes that time now. I would like to thank Tony Fernandes and Mia Sharizman at Caterham Racing for their constructive approach to this agreement, and Bruno Michel at GP2 for his valuable support during the negotiations.”
Caterham Racing Team Owner, Tony Fernandes said: “I would like to say that this announcement is very positive for us and Status Grand Prix. We have built a strong GP2 team with excellent personnel over the last four years, and we can be proud of the multiple race wins and podiums we have achieved in the Series.
“Following in-depth discussions with Status Grand Prix, we have reached an agreement that will strengthen and secure the future of the GP2 team. I would like to thank Bruno Michel and the GP2 Series for four successful years and wish Status Grand Prix the best of luck for the future.

F1Weekly podcast # 665

Clark and Nasir share their thoughts on F1W family member Jules Bianchi. We have Tech Talk with Tim and special interview with up and coming race car driver Jehan Daruvala.  We also have some updates on Max Verstappen.

Verstappen wins, Ocon is the 2014 FIA Formula 3 European 

Max Verstappen (Van Amersfoort Racing) claimed his ninth victory in the FIA Formula 3 European Championship in an action-packed 30th race of the season. At the 4.909 kilometres long Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari, the 17-year-old Dutchman won from Italian Antonio Fuoco (Prema Powerteam) and Esteban Ocon (Prema Powerteam). For 18-year-old Frenchman Ocon, who is backed by the Lotus Formula 1 team, third place was enough to win an early title in the 2014 FIA Formula 3 European Championship. As a reward, he will do a test with a Ferrari Formula 1 car at the Fiorano circuit on October 29.

Antonio Fuoco already took the lead from Max Verstappen and Esteban Ocon before the first corner. With a very good start, he thus managed to move up from third on the grid to first place. Later on the opening lap, Edward Jones (Carlin) ploughed through the gravel trap and hit Antonio Giovinazzi’s (Jagonya Ayam with Carlin) car as he swerved back onto the track. The Italian spun and retired and so did Jones. The race director sent the safety car out after the incident.

Only a few laps later, an off-track excursion by Sandro Zeller (Jo Zeller Racing) prompted the second safety car intervention. At the restart on lap nine, Verstappen overtook race leader Fuoco and claimed back first place. On lap eleven, the safety car was deployed again after Felix Rosenqvist (kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport) had collided with Jordan King (Carlin) and couldn’t avoid an impact into the barriers.

Max Verstappen also held on to his first place after the third restart of the race. He then safely brought this position home after the remaining laps and celebrated his first win of the weekend. Antonio Fuoco took the flag in second place and his many fans hailed him as the best-placed Italian in the race. Esteban Ocon was buoyant as well as his third place was enough to wrap up the 2014 FIA Formula 3 European Championship title early. Nicholas Latifi (Prema Powerteam) finished fourth in the final race of the Imola round, followed by Tom Blomqvist (Jagonya Ayam with Carlin) and William Buller (Signature). Thus, Buller scored not only his first points of the season, but also the first points for the Signature team that contested its first race weekend of the 2014 season at Imola. Jake Dennis (Carlin), Lucas Auer (kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport), Félix Serrallés (Team West-Tec F3) and Gustavo Menezes (Van Amersfoort Racing) rounded out the top ten.

Max Verstappen (Van Amersfoort Racing): “I lost a position after the start, but I knew that my car was fast and that the race was long. Therefore, I kept cool and I waited for an opportunity. My car was already fast on the two days of testing and that was the case today as well.”

Antonio Fuoco (Prema Powerteam): “I am happy with second place and I am not disappointed for having missed out on victory. It was clear to me that Max was quicker and that I wouldn’t have had a chance against him. I wasn’t happy with my first two races, but now, I am glad by my podium finish in my home round. I would like to dedicate this second place to my friend Jules Bianchi.”

Esteban Ocon (Prema Powerteam): “I am really happy that I am the new FIA Formula 3 European Champion. It is unbelievable, I simply don’t know what to say. I will celebrate the title in style with my team tonight. My race wasn’t too bad. I didn’t want to take too many risks in the first corner and I slotted into third place. Later on, I simply followed my team-mate Antonio, who was in second place. I knew that third place would be enough for me, too.”

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- The Citroën C-Elysée WTCCs recorded a magnificent one-two-three-four in Shanghai, as José María López won race one ahead of Ma Qing Hua, Yvan Muller and Sébastien Loeb. This unprecedented clean sweep ensured Citroën became Manufacturers’ World Champion.

- This is the first international championship that Citroën has won on the track, after five Cross Country Rally World Cups and eight WRC titles.

- In the Drivers’ World Championship, José María López moved another step closer to the title, which he will have the chance of winning at the next round in Suzuka (24-26 October).

After taking four of the front five positions in qualifying, Citroën Total had already made a very strong impression at the Shanghai International Circuit. Race one got underway in front of packed stands, the fans all cheering on local hero Ma Qing Hua, who started on the front row.

When the lights went out, José María López leapt into the lead ahead of his Chinese team-mate and Yvan Muller. Fifth on the grid, Sébastien Loeb mistimed his started and ended the first lap down in seventh place. Ma Qing Hua, who has looked sharp, badgered Pechito López on his home track, putting him under pressure. Despite locking up his brakes a few times, the leader remained in front but was unable to open up any sort of lead.

Meanwhile, Sébastien Loeb began to make a spectacular comeback. First Tiago Monteiro, then Gabriele Tarquini and finally Norbert Michelisz were all unable to withstand the pressure applied by the former rally driver. Just before the halfway stage, Citroën were therefore on course to record a one-two-three-four!

The four Citroën C-Elysées regrouped just before the chequered flag, capturing a historic moment for the Brand. José María López, Ma Qing Hua, Yvan Muller and Sébastien Loeb thus secured the title of Manufacturers’ World Champion for their team.

The time for celebrations was limited, however, as the race two started just a few minutes later. Thanks to the inverted grid, Sébastien Loeb was the best placed Citroën driver, starting from the third row. In the first few corners, Yvan Muller closed on his team-mate. Loeb then tried to overtake Hugo Valente, but Muller took advantage to get past!

As he attempted to regain the place lost, Sébastien Loeb accidentally hit Yvan, who was forced to retire with a broken rear wheel. As usual, José María López moved quickly and smoothly through the field, managing to climb up to P3! He crossed the finishing line in third place, scoring precious points for the Drivers’ World Championship. Sébastien Loeb finished fourth but was handed a 30-second penalty after he was adjudged to have caused the collision with Muller, meaning he dropped out the top 10. Ma Qing Hua finished fifth, after a good fight with Norbert Michelisz and Tom Coronel.


Julien Montarnal, Marketing, Communications and Motorsport Director at Citroën: “Citroën is extremely proud of these victories and this world title. The professionalism, energy and passion of Citroën Racing have enabled us to obtain results that have gone way beyond our wildest dreams. We gave ourselves a year to learn about the category and, in the end, it has taken us a year to win! I would like to thank the entire team, all those who have helped put the Citroën brand in the place it deserves: first. Winning the title in Shanghai in front of all these fans, at such an extremely popular event, has been the perfect scenario. China is our biggest market, as one in every four Citroën cars is sold here. All our guests, dealers and customers alike, have been able to appreciate Citroën’s technological expertise.”

Yves Matton, Citroën Racing Team Principal: “The season isn’t quite over yet, but I think we can safely say it has been a great year. A year that began, in fact, eighteen months ago, when we started working on this project. Whether it was in the technical centre in Versailles or on the ground, the entire team spent a lot energy making sure we were ready for the start of the championship. With a well-deigned car and a set of fantastic drivers, we have obtained some truly exceptional results. I would especially like to thank Yvan Muller, for his involvement with us. It was very emotional to record a 1-2-3-4 in China, and to see Ma Qing Hua finish on the podium.”

José María López: “This was a very important weekend for me and I must say I was more nervous than usual. It’s fantastic to secure the Manufacturers’ title with Citroën Racing. I want to congratulate and thank them all. I believe more than ever that motor racing is a team sport, even if the drivers tend to get most of the glory. It wasn’t easy to win this seventh race, because Ma Qing Hua was always behind me, pushing. That just goes to show that his win in Moscow wasn‘t down to luck!”

Ma Qing Hua: “First of all, I’d like to say thank you and well done to Citroën Total. Like this weekend, the team has had a very successful season. The guys have done everything they could to make up for my lack of track time and it’s motivating to feel so supported. Finishing second in race 1, so close to the winner, was a good result. I think that it’s worth even more than my win in Moscow.”

Yvan Muller: “Personally speaking, it hasn’t been my best weekend. Nor has it been my best season! But I’m pleased with the team result. We began working together fifteen months ago and it’s a great achievement to win the title. I’m pleased for the mechanics, the engineers and everybody involved.”

Sébastien Loeb: “The first race was exciting. I mistimed my start, but I managed to fight with the others and get past them to climb back up to fourth place. I think we’ll all remember this one-two-three-four finish as a great moment! In the second race, I was little bit too optimistic on braking and I accidentally ran into Yvan. I’m really sorry for him and it’s fair enough that I was given a penalty for that. But the big story of the day is the title for the team!”



Blomqvist wins from Verstappen – battle for title remains open

20-year-old British driver Tom Blomqvist (Jagonya Ayam with Carlin) claimed victory in the 29th season race of the FIA Formula 3 European Championship. He dominated the race at the 4.909 kilometres long Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari in Imola and scored a lights-to-flag victory. In bright sunshine, the three years younger Max Verstappen (Van Amersfoort Racing) crossed the finish line in second place, having overtaken Italian Antonio Giovinazzi (Jagonya Ayam with Carlin) on the final metres. Esteban Ocon (Prema Powerteam) finished fourth and is now 84 points ahead of Blomqvist in the FIA Formula 3 European Championship drivers’ standings with four races remaining. Verstappen, who already signed a contract to race in Formula 1 with the Toro Rosso team for 2015, is 96 points down on Lotus Formula 1 junior driver Ocon.

At the start, Tom Blomqvist made the best use of his pole position and took the lead. Antonio Giovinazzi overtook Esteban Ocon for second in the first corner already. On lap three, Antonio Fuoco also managed to find a way past Ocon and thus blew the young championship leader’s hopes of a possible podium finish. At that time, Max Verstappen had already worked his way up to sixth position after having had to start from eleventh place in accordance with the regulations following an engine change. His progress was briefly interrupted on lap seven as a spin by Alexander Toril (ThreeBond with T-Sport) prompted the race director to send the safety car out.

After the restart, Blomqvist remained in front from Giovinazzi and Fuoco. Soon after the field was released again, Verstappen overtook Nicholas Latifi (Prema Powerteam) and then was right behind Esteban Ocon. Two laps later, the Dutchman also overtook the Frenchman. As Fuoco had to pit from third place due to a technical issue, Verstappen even moved up into the top three. However, third place was not enough for the Dutchman: he was so quick that he managed to close up to second-placed Giovinazzi just before the finish. Coming onto the main straight on the final lap, he managed to work his way past the Italian to finish second. Unfazed by the action behind him, Tom Blomqvist drove victory home.

Behind the three drivers on the podium, Esteban Ocon took the flag in fourth place. After 20 laps, Lucas Auer (kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport) finished fifth from Nicholas Latifi, Jake Dennis (Carlin), Félix Serrallés (Team West-Tec F3), Felix Rosenqvist (kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport) and Gustavo Menezes (Van Amersfoort Racing)

Tom Blomqvist (Jagonya Ayam with Carlin): “I am very happy with this victory. I reckon that I showed a pretty strong race. My start was good and I succeeded in pulling a gap straight away. After the safety car intervention, I made a good restart and I managed to pull a gap once again. However, my car was also running perfectly throughout the race.”

Max Verstappen (Van Amersfoort Racing): “After having made a stupid mistake in yesterday’s race because of not being patient enough, I was determined to do better today and I think I managed to do so. The speed of my car was great and I am very happy to have made it all the way from eleventh on the grid to second at the flag.”

Antonio Giovinazzi (Jagonya Ayam with Carlin): “All in all, it was a good race for me. After the start, I managed to overtake Esteban Ocon and I was up in second place. I never was close enough behind Tom to mount an attack. Unfortunately, Max Verstappen still caught me on the final metres, but I am also happy with third place in my home race.

The Premiere Motorsport Podcast