Tag Archives: Mikko Hirvonen




2013024895After strong performances in their first outing in the DS3 WRC in Finland, Kris Meeke and Chris Patterson have been chosen to team up with Mikko Hirvonen and Jarmo Lehtinen in the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team for Rally Australia in Coffs Harbour on 13-15 September.

The fastest rally on the calendar proved tricky for Dani Sordo, who was not able to find the right rhythm to make it into the leading places. Sorely lacking in confidence on gravel, the Spanish driver has agreed with Citroën Racing that he will sit out the next round in order to try and take a step back and find some form on the surface away from pressure.

Kris Meeke put in a much-praised performance in Finland in his first outing in the DS3 WRC, despite crashing off at the end of the rally. The Irish driver, who has come through our promotional formulas and is responsible for the development of our client-competition cars, was the natural choice to race for Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team alongside Mikko Hirvonen in the tenth round of the World Championship.

“We have to acknowledge that we have had better seasons,” concedes Yves Matton, Managing Director of Citroën Racing. “It is difficult to take decisions like this, but sometimes you have to change something to reenergise the team and get back to winning ways. This decision, which was made with Dani, will allow us to work on our difficulties and move in the right direction. Kris showed what he could do in Finland with an excellent performance and high motivation levels. So we instinctively turned to him to take over in Australia.”

“We are really very happy that Citroën have put their faith in us again after our performance at Rally Finland,” said a delighted Kris Meeke. “For us, this is an incredible opportunity to take part in the rally as part of Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team alongside Mikko and Jarmo, and we are determined to give of our best.”


Mikko Hirvonen & Sébastien Loeb & Dani Sordo


Abu Dhabi, UAE, 20 January, 2013: Abu Dhabi’s new partnership with eight-time World Rally Championship (WRC) manufacturers winners, Citroën Racing, is off to a flying start after another historic win for Sebastien Loeb in the Monte Carlo Rally.

Loeb’s seventh Monte Carlo win alongside co-driver Daniel Elena was confirmed when the final two stages of the event on Saturday night were cancelled for safety reasons as huge numbers of spectators brought the narrow roads to gridlock.

This followed a series of dramatic incidents in the mountains above Monaco when three of the top seven on the leaderboard, Evgeny Novikov, Jari-Matti Latvala and Juho Hanninen crashed out of the rally, which was run through a combination of snow, ice and slush.

Loeb won by 1min 39.9sec from Frenchman Sebastien Ogier to equal Tommi Mäkinen’s record of four consecutive Monte Carlo triumphs. Spain’s Dani Sordo, driving in Al Qassimi’s Abu Dhabi Citroën Total World Rally Team DS3 WRC, finished third, with Mikko Hirvonen and Jarmo Lehtinen fourth in their Citroën Total Abu Dhabi car.

“I had to carve a line through a thick layer of slush, and we were aquaplaning all the time,” said Loeb. “You couldn’t go any faster than 30kph on the straight sections, otherwise you lose the car completely and you go off!”

Following the first of 13 rounds in this year’s World Rally Championship, the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team already leads the manufacturers’ standings and will hope to build on its advantage when round two unfolds in Sweden from February 7-10.

With the UAE’s Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi returning to WRC action in Sweden, the Emirati will first spearhead a five-car Abu Dhabi Racing assault in this weekend’s Qatar International Rally, the opening round of the seven-event FIA Middle East Rally Championship.


Loeb Monte Carlo 2013


Although he has no plans to contest the entire WRC in 2013, Sébastien Loeb has clearly lost none of his motivation. The first four stages of the Rallye Monte-Carlo saw the Citroën driver leave his rivals gasping for breath, their ranks led by Volkswagen’s Sébastien Ogier who trails by 1m20.3s (!) after almost 140km of competitive action. The third man on tonight’s all-Michelin podium is Loeb’s team-mate Mikko Hirvonen (+1m46.7s).

The snow that swept over much of France during the early part of the week made way for brighter, drier weather today as the 2013 World Rally Championship got under way with two loops of two stages.

Because of the resulting mixed conditions (clear asphalt, ice and snow), however, especially on the two visits to the awesome ‘Le Burzet’ test (SS2 and SS4), nearly all the front-runners (including Loeb!) were relieved to survive what turned out to be one of the most complex days in recent ‘Monte-Carlo’ history.

“There was less snow on Le Burzet than this morning but there were a number of places where you couldn’t tell whether the road was wet or icy. The damp patches appear to be refreezing but you couldn’t be sure,” reported the Frenchman at the end of SS4. “I lost grip in a few places, so I wasn’t completely confident. It’s good to have reached the finish…”

The veteran’s closest chaser tonight is his ex-Citroën team-mate, Sébastien Ogier, who has given Volkswagen an encouraging start to its first full WRC campaign. The Frenchman even led momentarily after SS1 before being passed by Loeb. VW will be pleased that he had a relatively trouble-free run, but Ogier himself spent much of the day repeating that he was concentrating on his own performance and not taking any notice of Loeb’s times…

Citroën’s new number one driver Mikko Hirvonen is third overall, but he rarely showed any real speed. “I really don’t know why,” he said at the end of the day. “I hate these conditions!”

For his first rally back in Citroën colours, Dani Sordo will be hoping for a strong points finish this week and his careful drive was rewarded by provisional fourth place (+2m01.7s), just behind Hirvonen.

Meanwhile, Jari-Matti Latvala is fifth (+2m32.2s) in the second Volkswagen Polo R and would have been challenging for a footing on the podium had he not taken a 30-second penalty for late arrival at the start of SS2. As a result, he is closely chased by Ford/M-Sport’s best-placed representative, Evgeny Novikov (6th, +2m50.6s).

Tonight’s top 10 is rounded off by Citroën privateer Bryan Bouffier (7th) and Ford Fiesta WRC drivers Juho Hanninen (8th), Monte rookie Mads Ostberg (9th) and Martin Prokop (10th).

The day’s chief victim was Ford’s Thierry Neuville who crashed out on SS4, while Michal Kosciuszko’s first day of competition in a WRC car was poorly rewarded when his Mini picked up an engine problem. He is 21st. For information, the ‘Rally2’ ruling does not apply to the Rallye Monte-Carlo, so a driver who retires cannot re-join the next day.



Citroen DS3 WRC


Sheikh Khalid sees new era for UAE capital in world rallying as Loeb aims to seal another Monte Carlo triumph

Abu Dhabi, UAE, 15 January, 2013: Abu Dhabi’s three-year partnership with eight-time World Rally Championship (WRC) manufacturers winners, Citroën Racing, begins in earnest this week as French ace Sebastien Loeb launches his bid for a seventh victory in the legendary Monte Carlo Rally, the opening round of the 13-event season.

Loeb’s participation marks the start of a momentous first season for the recently-established Abu Dhabi Racing (ADR), which has created the UAE capital’s new partnership with Citroen on the WRC stage as part of a concentrated programme designed to reinforce the emirate’s global motorsport stature.

The UAE’s Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi is central to the initiative, both as ADR Chairman and as the main driver in Abu Dhabi Citroën Total World Rally Team. In addition to running a nine-event WRC campaign, Al Qassimi will also spearhead a five-car assault on the FIA Middle East Rally Championship which starts later this month in Qatar.

While Al Qassimi must wait for February’s Rally Sweden to make his long-awaited WRC return, Loeb and co-driver Daniel Elena, backed by flying Finn Mikko Hirvonen and Jarmo Lehtinen, will pilot Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team’s debut through the treacherous snow and ice-coated roads of Monte Carlo’s winter.

With Hirvonen contesting all 13 nominated championship events, the Monte Carlo Rally represents one of only four WRC appearances this season by Loeb, who has retired from full-time competitive rallying after winning nine consecutive WRC drivers’ titles. He will alternate in the second DS3 WRC this season with Spain’s Dani Sordo. In the season opener, Sordo and co-driver Carlos del Barrio will chase points for Abu Dhabi Citroën Total WRT – the second team created by the new ADR- Citroën Racing partnership – in another DS3 WRC.

With Al Qassimi taking the wheel of a fourth DS3 WRC in Sweden, he will be following this week’s Monte Carlo event with enormous interest and expectation.

“We see this as the start of a new era for Abu Dhabi in world rallying and I’m very excited by what lies ahead,” said Al Qassimi. “I’m very happy to be getting the chance to return to action in the WRC but the bigger picture is that this is a unique opportunity to carry the Abu Dhabi brand to a worldwide audience.

“The emirate is already well known as one of the world’s top venues for Formula 1 racing and for other events held at Yas Marina Circuit. Now we have linked up with the most successful works team in WRC history and opened up another exciting avenue for UAE motorsport and Emirati drivers.”

In the first test for the three new Abu-Dhabi-branded Citroen DS3 WRCs, the Monte Carlo Rally gets under way from Valence tomorrow with four special stages. Ice and snow are expected to play a big part, making tyre choice critical en route to the finish on Saturday. In total there are 465km of timed stages and no pair is better prepared for the challenge than Loeb and Elena, who begin their ‘testimonial’ year with one of their favourite rallies, ten years after their debut Monte Carlo win.

“They’ve had an amazing run of success and it would give us a wonderful start to the season if they could take an Abu Dhabi-branded car to victory on what looks like being their final Monte Carlo appearance,” said Sheikh Khalid.



Five-year manufacturer agreement putting Sheikh Khalid back in WRC action highlights major motor sport drive by Abu Dhabi Racing

Abu Dhabi, UAE, 3 October,2012: Abu Dhabi has entered into a five-year partnership with multiple World Rally Championship-winning manufacturers, Citroen, in a move which powerfully underlines the Emirate’s position in global motorsport.

The new three-car Citroen Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team will make its debut in the 2013 World Rally Championship (WRC), with the UAE’s Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi joining Finland’s Mikko Hirvonen and Frenchman Sébastien Loeb in the driver line-up.

Sheikh Khalid, like Hirvonen and his co-driver Jarmo Lehtinen, will contest the full WRC season while the eight-timesWorld Championship-winning crew of Loeb and Daniel Elena will join them in a partial racing programme.

The other crew who will replace Loeb and Elena for the rest of the season will be announced by Citroen in due course as the new Citroen Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team looks forward to the legendary Rallye Monte-Carlo, opening round of the 2013 WRC in January.

Strong Abu Dhabi branding on each of the team’s three Citroën DS3 WRCs, and support vehicles, will create the dominant visual impact, emphasising a new partnership and a commitment from the UAE capital at the pinnacle of world rallying.

The five-year agreement with Citroen, which secures the manufacturer’s WRC future, has been signed by Abu Dhabi Racing (ADR), a newly established Abu Dhabi-based company working on a number of initiatives designed to bolster the emirate’s presence in global motorsport.

Sheikh Khalid, who is the ADR chairman and competed in the WRC from 2007-2011, said: “Naturally, I am delighted to have the chance to return to WRC action, but more importantly this is a unique opportunity to carry the Abu Dhabi brand to a worldwide audience.

“Abu Dhabi is already established as one of the world’s premier Formula One destinations, and enjoys massive exposure as a result of the F1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, and other events staged at Yas Marina Circuit.

“The Abu Dhabi brand will now be projected more powerfully than ever before in the World Rally Championship by the most successful works team in WRC history, and the partnership with Citroen can lead to many more benefits for Abu Dhabi Racing, and the Emirate as a whole.”

While the WRC programme is a major part of its activities, the main objective for Abu Dhabi Racing is to increase Emirati participation in various global motorsport series, including off-

road and circuit-based disciplines.

This will be done through strategic relationships with Abu Dhabi-based motorsport stakeholders,  including Abu Dhabi Motorsport Management (ADMM), Yas Marina Circuit and

Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi).

Sheikh Khalid’s colleagues on the board of Abu Dhabi Racing are Khalid Bin Shaiban, Vice Chairman, ADMM, and Khalid Al Qubaisi, who has international competitive experience in the

Porsche Supercup series and was part of a four-driver ‘Abu Dhabi by Black Falcon’ team which won this year’s Dubai 24 Hour race.

Citroen confirmed at last week’s Paris Motor Show that, in facing tough economic times, it had ‘taken the decision to remain involved in motorsport in order to support its determined and

energeticcommercial approach.”

“In this context, we are particularlyproud to welcome Abu Dhabi on board,” commented Yves Matton, Citroën Racing Team Principal. “This partnership will provide us with the means of continuing our programme and entering three DS3 WRCs in 2013.”

Once again this year Citroën have dominated the World Rally Championship and look set to capture their eighth manufacturers title, while Hirvonen and Lehtinen are the only crew who can now prevent Loeb and Elena from winning their ninth consecutive crown.