Tag Archive | "Volkswagen Polo"

Rally Portugal This Weekend


After their foray over the ocean the World Rally teams are back in Europe for the Portuguese round of the Championship this coming weekend. Following their spectacular return to the sport Volkswagen have got off to a blistering start running second only in the manufacturers stakes to the mighty works team from Citroen. VW’s Sebastien Ogier heads the leader board for drivers after a string of successes in the early rounds, backed up by Jari-Matti Latvala and Andreas Mikkelsen, all driving Polo‘s.

Following the snow of Sweden and the rocks of Mexico the teams are back on more familiar territory with Portugal offering the traditional loose gravel stages. With a mixture of open roads and tight technical sections this event tests drivers to the max – especially when it rains, turning the surface into a slippery nightmare. The abrasive gravel takes a toll of tyres and the teams have to seriously factor this in when planning their campaigns.

The usual format applies except for this year there will be a marathon leg when teams will have to compete over four consecutive special stages without any service interval. This will push the cars to extremes and show up those whose preparations have been less than thorough.

Citroen are fielding three of their smart DS3 cars this time with Mikko Hirvonen and Danny Sordo being joined by new boy Khalid Al-Qassimi. Overall the event is fully subscribed with seventy two entries over the various categories. A star entrant is the Formula 1 star Robert Kubica making his debut in this event driving a DS3 RRC. There are 6 M-Sport Ford drivers, all piloting Fiestas. Ostberg, Novikov and Neuville are the rising stars and the ones to watch for a surprise result.

Last year’s Portugal Rally had it all. Thunder and lightning and fog, missed opportunities and unfortunate exits; most notably that of the great Seb Loeb who misunderstood a pace-note and turned left instead of right. This is not something you really want to do at high speed on a gravel surface!

Fans always hear about the drivers and it is a shame that the co-drivers remain the unsung heroes. They have a complex job to do interpreting pace-notes, reading the road and keeping everything on track and all whilst trying not to be riveted to the seat with fear. In-car TV coverage means that armchair rally stars can get a driver’s eye view of all the action. In the UK this means tuning into ITV4 on Thursday (18th) evening for the highlights show. This channel will be showing all the rallies but it looks as though they are being flexible about which night it will be on! Make the most of it anyway because in the UK that’s all we get!

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Blink And You Will Miss The WRC


The third round of the World Rally Championship has come and gone without a single UK broadcaster picking up the rights to show it – or so we thought. The good news is that, without any sort of fanfare, ITV4 have at least found the money to broadcast an hourly highlights show of every rally this year. IT STARTS TONIGHT!

If you’re interested in this branch of motor sport you will already know that Sebastien Ogier has just won Rally Mexico in his new Volkswagen Polo. That’s his second victory as he has already captured the Rally Sweden crown. The legend that is Seb Loeb won the Monte Carlo in January but as he has semi-retired it has left the field open for the other major teams and drivers.

Rally used to be big in the UK, in the days of the late great Colin McRae, but interest has waned as Loeb and the mighty Citroen team have dominated the sport so completely over the last decade. It would be churlish to suggest this was the only reason for the loss of interest but it is probably fair to say that the WRC had become a bit boring. Let us hope that major sponsorship and promotion from Red Bull will help to bring rally back from the brink of extinction.

Now that the fast Frenchman has backed off and some exciting new drivers are coming to the fore we can but hope that the sport will pick up. The return of VW and the impending resurrection of a Hyundai team will hopefully rejuvenate the formula. The advances in TV technology for broadcasters means that coverage can be much more immediate. The on-board footage is tremendously exciting.

The challenge for ITV4 and television in general is to find that added ingredient and portray rallying in a much more positive light. There are certainly problems with live coverage because of the international venues, world weather and so on but, as Eurosport showed a couple of years ago at the night-time Monte Carlo stages, it can be done and done well. There shouldn’t really be a problem for Rally Wales later in the year.

The ITV deal at least means that fans can enjoy a one hour highlights show of each of the remaining eleven events. They will be shown early on Tuesday evenings immediately following each rally with a repeat on Saturday mornings. ITV4 have done a marvellous job with the BTCC so let’s hope that the response to this coverage from fans will be immediate and that we can maybe hope for even better next year!

Next round Portugal 11-14 April – highlights ITV4 Tuesday 16/4.

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bG9nZ2VyX0xvZ28uanBnIjtpOjI7czo3MzoiaHR0cDovL21vdG9yYmxvZ2dlci5jby51ay93cC1jb250ZW50L3dvb191cGxvYWRzLzMtTW90b3JfQmxvZ2dlcl9Mb2dvLnBuZyI7fTwvbGk+PGxpPjxzdHJvbmc+d29vX3ZpZGVvX2NhdGVnb3J5PC9zdHJvbmc+IC0gQXV0byBOZXdzPC9saT48L3VsPg==