Tag Archives: Monza



After leading the rally at the end of day one, Kris Meeke and Paul Nagle continued to impress throughout today’s second leg, held on roads around Gap. The Abu Dhabi Total WRT crew now lies second overall, less than ten seconds behind the leader. Stéphane Lefebvre and Gabin Moreau continued to learn about rallying at this level as the young Frenchmen ended the day in eighth position in the overall standings.  

After yesterday evening’s opening leg was held after dark, day two of the 84th Rallye Monte-Carlo featured three stages, each contested twice. Predominantly dry, the Champsaur roads nonetheless had enough ice on them to make tyre choice tricky at the day’s first service.

For the morning loop, Kris Meeke went with five Michelin Pilot Sport SS5 tyres (super soft slicks) again, whilst Stéphane Lefebvre gambled on four slicks and two Pilot Alpin PA4 CL tyres (with studs). An enthralling battle developed between Kris Meeke and Sébastien Ogier for the overall lead, with matter of a few tenths separating them. Despite a stage win on SS4, the Ulsterman lost the lead at the end of SS5… by just 1.5s! During these opening three stages, Stéphane Lefebvre tried to find the right balance between pushing and driving smoothly. Consistently in the top 10, the younger member of the team remained ninth overall at the day’s half-way stage.

Following a half-hour service in Gap and a few set-up adjustments, the fight at the front served up even more thrills in afternoon runs. Kris Meeke set a blistering time on SS7 to retake the overall lead. But on the following test, Sébastien Ogier hit back with a convincing win in his own backyard. He ended today’s second leg with a 9.5s lead over Kris.

Stéphane Lefebvre enjoyed something of an incident-packed afternoon. Whilst make changes to the set-up of his rear axle after SS6, he lost time and was handed a 20s penalty for arriving late at the time control. After contesting SS7 with a disconnected anti-roll bar – and nonetheless setting the fifth fastest time – he lost a bit more time after running into a field alongside SS8! Having made it back to Gap, the Abu Dhabi Total WRT driver still managed to end the day in eighth place overall.

After what has been two very difficult days, the final podium of the 84th Rallye Monte-Carlo is still a long way off! Saturday’s leg is set to be the longest of the rally, with five stages covering almost half of the total distance of timed sections. The crews are expected to reach parc ferme in Monaco from 7.48pm.


Kris Meeke: “I’m pleased with today, I feel good in the car and it’s really nice to be challenging for the lead. There were just a few seconds between me and Sébastien, but he made the difference on a few kilometres between Les Costes and Chaillol. As far as I’m concerned, I was happy with my driving; I really don’t know how he made up the time! But in any case, it’s still tight and the fight is by no means over. Tomorrow, we’ll have to deal with the long 51km stage and the one that includes a section on the Ancelle ski slopes. Tyre choice will be all about getting the right compromise, and it could swing the race one way or another. And then there’ll be the legendary Sisteron-Thoard stage to tackle before we reach Monaco. It really will be the biggest day of the rally!”

Stéphane Lefebvre: “It’s been a fairly eventful day! I started off cautiously this morning, especially after seeing Kubica’s car parked against a tree. We changed the set-up during the midday service but it wasn’t perfect and we decided to make a few changes between two stages. Unfortunately, the anti-roll bar became stuck and that was why we arrived late at the time control. We also took a little detour into a field on SS8. I think we skidded on a patch of ice and the car didn’t turn in properly on a fast bend. Fortunately, we got back onto the road quickly and didn’t lose more than five seconds! I realise tonight just how important experience is at Monte-Carlo. I can’t really make much use of what I learned in Germany, Corsica or Spain, because the conditions are so different. There is still a long way to go in the rally so I hope I can keep improving on the last two legs.”


  1. Ogier / Ingrassia (VW Polo-R WRC) 1h29:06.1
  2. Meeke / Nagle (DS 3 WRC) +9.5
  3. Latvala / Anttila (VW Polo-R WRC) +1:08.1
  4. Mikkelsen / Jaeger (VW Polo-R WRC) +1:33.8
  5. Neuville / Gilsoul (Hyndai i20 WRC) +1:47.8
  6. Ostberg / Floene (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +2:18.5
  7. Sordo / Martin (Hyundai i20 WRC) +3:07.8
  8. Lefebvre / Moreau (DS 3 WRC) +3:32.0
  9. Bouffier / Bellotto (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +4:18.6
  10. Tänak / Molder (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +5:25.8




Taking the crews from Monaco to Gap, the opening leg of the Rallye Monte-Carlo was made up of two night stages. On the pace on SS1, Kris Meeke and Paul Nagle produced a stunning performance on the following test as they won the stage, taking them into the overall lead! In the second car entered by the Abu Dhabi Total WRT, Stéphane Lefebvre and Gabin Moreau ended the first day in the top ten.

From around midday, excitement about the Rallye Monte-Carlo really began to build in the Principality of Monaco with the official launch of the 2016 FIA World Rally Championship. In the afternoon, Khalid Al-Qassimi and Kris Meeke took a few lucky celebrities and journalists for an adrenalin-charged spin in their WRCs on a section of the legendary F1 track!

As darkness fell, the competitors pulled onto the start podium, set up in the Place du Casino. The crews then set off for Entrevaux, for the start of the very first stage of the year. Despite a spin that cost six or seven seconds, Kris Meeke grabbed second position. Making the most of his tyre choice – two Michelin Pilot Sport SS5 (super soft slicks) and two Pilot Alpin PA4 CL (with studs) fitted diagonally – the Northern Irishman set the fastest time between Barles and Seyne. After beating Sébastien Ogier by 11s, the Abu Dhabi Total WRT driver took the overall lead at the Rallye Monte-Carlo for the first time in his career!

Stéphane Lefebvre and Gabin Moreau also made a pleasing start to the rally. For the young duo – who are making their competitive debut here – the aim was to make it through these opening two timed stages. Gradually getting to grips with the cross-fitted tyre set-up, the 2014 FIA Junior WRC Champion helped himself to the seventh fastest time on SS2. Ninth overall, he made it back to service within fifteen seconds of the top five.

Following this short opening leg, day two of the 84th Rallye Monte-Carlo will be held around Gap, with six stages covering a total of 116.5km. The cars are due leave parc ferme from 8.45am.


Kris Meeke: “I was pleased with the first stage, despite a spin that cost me a little bit of time. We knew that the critical point would be on SS2, with the last few kilometres covered with snow and ice. Tyre choice was informed by this section, but we didn’t all end up going with the same option. I felt confident in the car straight away with the cross-fitted tyres and I managed to set a good time. We can’t get too carried away, we’ve only done two stages so far! It is difficult to predict what conditions will be like tomorrow. We saw on the road section that the outside temperature had already dropped to -9°C, so we can expect there to be a few patches of black ice on the early stages.”

Stéphane Lefebvre: “Along with Sisteron-Thoard, these were the two stages I was most apprehensive about. Compared to recce, the road conditions were totally different. Fortunately, my ice crews did a great job and there weren’t any tricky sections that they hadn’t noted. It was a good evening, during which we didn’t make any mistakes. It’s all the more pleasing given that these were my first stages with Gabin as co-driver. I had set myself the target of not losing too much time to the leaders. I think I can push more tomorrow. The stages on day two are more or less the same as in 2015 and I think that the experience from last year will help me improve this time.”


  1. Meeke / Nagle (DS 3 WRC) 13:06.1
  2. Ogier / Ingrassia (VW Polo-R WRC) +6.9
  3. Mikkelsen / Jaeger (VW Polo-R WRC) +20.0
  4. Neuville / Gilsoul (Hyndai i20 WRC) +31.4
  5. Paddon / Kennard (Hyundai i20 WRC) +34.9
  6. Ostberg / Floene (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +35.3
  7. Latvala / Anttila (VW Polo-R WRC) +38.7
  8. Kubica / Szczepaniak (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +45.8
  9. Lefebvre / Moreau (DS 3 WRC) +48.6
  10. Sordo / Martin (Hyundai i20 WRC) +51.8


F1Weekly podcast # 696

CLARK AND NASIR INTRODUCE THE FIRST PODCAST OF 2016 with a discussion on the upcoming F1 season with the Host counting on a McLaren resurgence to the front of the spear. We have a new episode of “Loosh on the Loose” and…Special interview with Mirko Bortolotti

After karting for several years, Bortolotti began his formula racing career in 2005 by competing in the Italian Formula Renault Winter Series and Formula Gloria. He competed in the Winter Series for a further two years, with a best finish of fourth in 2006. He also drove in the Italian Formula Junior 1600 championship for this year, in addition to the Formula Azzurra championship. In the latter series he finished as runner-up in the drivers’ championship, behind winner Giuseppe Termine.

In 2007, Bortolotti moved up to Italian Formula Three, finishing fourth in the championship at his first attempt. He remained in the series for 2008, driving for the Lucidi Motors team, and won the championship with nine wins and six pole positions from the sixteen races.

Bortolotti obtained backing from Red Bull following his championship win; the company opted to place him in the relaunched FIA Formula Two Championship in2009. He drove car number 14 in the series, and finished fourth. During the break between the final two rounds of the season, Bortolotti returned to Formula Three to compete for Carlin Motorsport in the Formula 3 Euro Series season finale at Hockenheim, finishing on the podium in the second race.

Bortolotti’s next move was to the newly created GP3 Series. He drove in the 2010 season for Addax Team alongside teammates Felipe Guimarães and Pablo Sánchez López and managed some good results, finishing 11th and getting a podium in his final race.

As a reward for their performances in the 2008 Italian F3 championship, Bortolotti, Edoardo Piscopo and Salvatore Cicatelli were all given a test of the Ferrari team’s F2008 chassis at the Fiorano Circuit in November 2008. Bortolotti impressed by setting a time of 59.111 seconds, quicker than the previous fastest lap set by the F2008 at the circuit by any driver.

In 2009, among several other drivers, Bortolotti was linked to a drive with Ferrari as a replacement for injured Felipe Massa, after poor performances by Luca Badoer.

In 2011, Bortolotti was selected by Williams to appear in their car at the 2011 young drivers test in Abu Dhabi.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.



  • Ross Martin graduates to MSA Formula after winning Bernie Ecclestone and Formula One Management-backed 2015 Formula Kart Star Championship
  • Martin receives fully funded drive with Fortec as prize for claiming title
18 January, 2016 – The Autosport International Show has brought with it the announcement that Ross Martin will compete in the Ford EcoBoost-powered MSA Formula Championship in 2016. He will attack the track as a Fortec Motorsport driver thanks to winning the 2015 Formula Kart Star championship and with it the prize of a fully funded drive.

A proud Martin is understandably thrilled with the opportunity to compete in the championship: “There’s no other thing like it at any level in British motorsport. The MSA and Ford have put together a great championship with phenomenal drivers. We all know what an incredible brand Ford is and the 1.6 litre EcoBoost engine it supplies is fantastic.”

Safe in the knowledge of a fully funded drive for 2016, Ross has not had to contend with the pressures of securing sponsorship. “I knew I had sufficient funding in place, and therefore could focus on preparing for the year ahead as best possible. Of course it will be nice to get more sponsors on board, but that will hopefully happen as the season progresses.”

The Scottish youngster is excited to be working with Fortec, with whom he has already tested at Valencia in Spain, claiming second-fastest time. “I’m looking forward to working with Fortec, it is a championship-winning team. The test in Valencia was a great way to get to know everyone.”

Ross also paid tribute to his mentor, three-time Le Mans 24 Hour winner Allan McNish: “He’s been giving me advice for three years. Having him in my corner has been a great help and advantage. Hopefully he’ll come to a few races this season. I would love to match his Le Mans record one day.”

Carolynn Hoy, Formula Kart Stars chairman, is convinced that in Ross Martin Formula Kart Stars has the perfect candidate to fly the flag for the series. “We have a worthy champion here. A very able driver. After his first test with Fortec, he’s already showing he’s got great potential for 2016 and beyond. He’s going to be carrying the torch for us and I’m certain he will be an excellent ambassador for the series.”

The opening rounds of MSA Formula – Certified by FIA, powered by Ford EcoBoost are set for Brands Hatch in early April. The series is Britain’s official version of the FIA’s Formula 4 concept and was introduced last season as a supporting series on the live-televised British Touring Car Championship package.



After a gruelling Dakar journey of 9,500km through Argentina and Boliva a trio of Red Bull Desert Wings have emerged victorious across the car, bike and quad categories. Frenchman Stéphane Peterhansel cemented his title of Monsieur Dakar with his sixth car win while Australian biker Toby Price won the rally for the first time. The crowds at the finish line in Rio Cuarto, Argentina also had a local hero to cheer home as Marcos Patronelli won the quad category for a third time.

Stéphane Peterhansel is a man who has been there and done it when it comes to the Dakar. After winning the bike race six times he made the switch to four wheels. Little time was wasted in mastering the new discipline and his victory today makes it six wins in the car race and 12 Dakar triumphs in all. Peterhansel’s latest win came behind the wheel of the fearsome Peugeot 2008DKR16, the car that has led the contest since the first day thanks also to fellow Team Peugeot-Total drivers Sébastien Loeb and Carlos Sainz.

Pulling up behind the Peugeot of Peterhansel and co-driver Jean-Paul Cottret on the finalised car podium were a pair of former champions: Nasser Al-Attiyah/Mathieu Baumel in second andGiniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz in third.

The recent withdrawals of five-time Dakar winners Cyril Despres (seventh overall this time in cars) and Marc Coma (now the event’s sporting director) from the bike race left the category wide open heading into this year’s contest. Stepping up to the plate for the Red Bull KTM Factory Team and securing the Austrian manufacturer a 15th consecutive Dakar win was Toby Price. A podium finish during his Dakar debut 12 months ago had already marked Price out as an exceptional talent. Now the Australian has picked up his first Dakar victory: the only question that remains to be answered is how many titles will he go on to win in the future?

Just like Peterhansel and Price, Argentine quad biker Marcos Patronelli used the second week of the Dakar to build up an unassailable lead at the front of the race. There was an outpouring of emotion at the finish line as Patronelli got his hands on his third Dakar title and was followed home by his brother Alejandro in second place.

Over in the truck race Team Kamaz Master ended up running out of stages as they attempted to reel in long-time race leader Gerard de Rooy. Ayrat Mardeev offered a fine defence of the title he won last year but when the race was run the Russian had to settle for second overall.

Our final congratulations has to go to all the competitors, event organisers and fans that make the Dakar Rally a truly special event. In the world’s toughest race things are always being pushed to the very limit and the Dakar remains motorsport’s ultimate test of endurance.



The Abu Dhabi Total WRT has entered two cars at the Rallye Monte-Carlo (21-24 January), the opening round of the 2016 World Rally Championship. Kris Meeke/Paul Nagle and Stéphane Lefebvre/Gabin Moreau will have to meet the combined challenge of Monte’s demanding course and the typically wintry conditions that are expected at the event.

As usual, the new season – the final one for the generation of World Rally Cars that first appeared in 2011 – kicks off with the world’s most famous rally. Taking over from Citroën Racing – which is actively preparing for its return as a works team in 2017 – the Abu Dhabi Total World Rally Team will be competing at a number of European rounds of the WRC, starting with the Rallye Monte-Carlo.

Prepared by PH Sport and featuring the same technical spec as at the end of 2015, the two WRCs have been entrusted to crews of differing experience and ambitions. At 36 years old, Northern Irishman Kris Meeke is competing in what is already his eighth Monte-Carlo. After scoring a podium-finish here in 2014 alongside co-driver Paul Nagle, he has proven his ability to keep out of trouble on the tricky course in the south of France. Already very familiar with the car and the Michelin tyres that will be available, he may have greater freedom here and be able to adopt a bolder strategy!

In comparison, 23 year-old Stéphane Lefebvre’s experience is more limited. That said, the young Frenchman has nonetheless secured two category wins in his two appearances here! Last year, he pulled off a real coup in winning the WRC2 class after a flawless performance in his DS 3 R5. Now competing alongside co-driver Gabin Moreau, Stéphane will be contesting only his sixth WRC rally, but he is determined to grab the opportunity to showcase his skills!

The Abu Dhabi Total WRT will undertake preparations this weekend, with two days of pre-event testing organised near to Gap. Recce gets underway next Monday before the crews get back into their race cars for the shakedown on Wednesday afternoon. The ceremonial start of the 84th Rallye Monte-Carlo will be held on Thursday at 6.15pm in Monaco’s Place du Casino. Friday and Saturday’s legs will be held on roads around Gap, before the short final day on Sunday, which includes runs on the famous Col de Turini.


Kris Meeke (#7): “2016 is not just a new season, it’s the start of a new chapter in my career. I am extremely pleased to be competing at the Rallye Monte-Carlo with the Abu Dhabi Total WRT. Obviously, we are not in the same situation as the other WRC drivers. I don’t feel like I’m under a great deal of pressure, mainly because we’re not aiming for a particular result at the end of the season. At the Monte-Carlo, and at the other rallies, I’ll be looking to do my very best and get as much experience as possible. Although there are a few new stages, the course seems to be pretty similar to 2015. The major imponderable is the weather. If the cold conditions persist, we should have a lot of snow and ice on the stages. Instinctively, it’s a rally that I love because it sums up all the excitement of the start of a new season. But when you get to the service park and you have to make a tyre choice that will inevitably involve a compromise of some kind, the love can sometimes turn to hate! If we manage to have an error-free race and make the right calls, I think we shouldn’t be too far away from the podium.”

Stéphane Lefebvre (#8): “Monte-Carlo is a rally where I have done fairly well in the past, since I won my class in 2011 and then secured the WRC2 category win last year. This year, I would dearly love to get a good result and prove that I can be counted on. I like the course here, but I will be giving it all the respect such a legendary rally deserves. The Monte-Carlo is not a sprint like some of the other World Championship rallies. We saw last year how quickly gaps can be established and then disappear! You must never get too carried away and just build your strategy over the course of the stages. I’ll be counting on the experience of the team’s members to help me with that. I’ll also be getting advice from my gravel crew, Alexandre Bengué. I don’t have any specific goal as regards the result, because we don’t know to what extent the works teams have improved during the off-season. I would be pleased if I manage to keep improving something like I did at the end of last year on tarmac, whilst trying to stay in touch with Kris. I have the good fortune to have a team-mate who is very quick on these roads, so he’ll be my marker!”


Wednesday, 20 January: shakedown in Gap (route de la Garde) from 4pm to 6pm.

Thursday, 21 January: start of Day 1 “Monaco-Gap” at 6.15pm from Monaco (Place du Casino). Finish in Gap from 11.53pm following two stages covering a total of 41.34km.

Friday, 22 January: start of Day 2 “Gap-Gap” at 8.45am. Finish from 5.45pm following six stages covering a total of 115.52km.

Saturday, 23 January: start of Day 3 “Gap-Monaco” at 6.40am. Finish in Monaco from 7.40pm following five stages covering a total of 172.75km.

Sunday, 24 January: start of Day 4 “Monaco-Monaco” at 7.12am. Overall finish from 1.39pm following three stages covering a total of 45.28km