Category Archives: Sports

Chris Leyds: “This a very nice adventure!”

Chris Leyds is a real passional in rally-raid, the Dutchman in his forty years is one of those who knows how to develope the sport in the practice. Now he is the team leader of McRae Enduro Racing and he kindly answered some questions for us:

What do you think about Silk Way Rally?

For us this is a nice opportunity to work around at mid-season, this is an event where the balance is right, not too difficult but enough for good testing, the multi terrain is perfect, this is also a good event for our partners and sponsors, really this a very nice adventure!

What are your projects on the next Silk Way?

We will be there with our latest version of our McRae Enduro 3 litre turbo diesel, we now have one car still available, next to the 2 cars which we already entered.

What do you think about the global situation in cross country rally?

We all look to have events like Silk Way, this is what cross country means in terms of stages and facilities. The organizers can guaranty the event and avoid risks of “external factors”. Our hosting Russian friends understand that competitors come from all over the world, and they perfectly managed to show us the beauty of the country!

In unknown earth

On April 20th, Semen Yakubov, the director of the international Silk Way Rally – Raid approved the schedule of the General reconnaissance.

Six 4WD cars will start from Moscow on May 17th to cross Russia from North to south for a 15 days trip to reach Gelendzhik on the Black Sea shores. This general reconnaissance will be the result of the work already done during the various checks of the itinerary. This year, the route was deeply modified and it’s a real journey towards “unknown earth” which awaits for the competitors of the Rally in July 2012.

Only the Ceremonial start of the Silk Way Rally 2012 will be given at the same place as last year, the Red Square in Moscow, as confirmed some days ago by the authorization given and signed by Russian President, Dmitry Medvedev. It’s from this place, heart of Moscow and Russia that competitors will start their difficult way through the Russian great spaces towards the Black Sea shores.

Known for their specialized skills, Stéphane Le Bail, collaborating with the Organizing Committee of Silk Way Rally since 2009 and the famous rally driver, four-time World Champion in Rally-Raid, three-time winner of the Dakar, Pierre Lartigue will be in charge of writing the road book. A precious road book that will be of course kept secret until the start. The participation of these professionals in the reconnaissance is a guarantee that the route will comply with the highest sports standards of the discipline.

On May 16th, a press conference will be held in Moscow in presence of Stéphane Le Bail and Pierre Lartigue, contributing to reveal the novelties and the specificities of the Silk Way Rally 2012.

 

 

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Silk Way Rally 2012 from Moscow to Gelendzhik

Russia is a country with an eventful history and a rich culture. In 2012, the competitors of the Silk Way Rally will have the opportunity to discover some of its features. The race route will pass on the territory on which destinies of people have decided, the States’ borders have moved and magnificent cities have been destroyed and then rebuilt. This part of the world has experienced unrest due to its strategic location, at the centre of historical trade routes: the Silk Way, the Great Volga Way, the route from the Varangians to the Greeks, etc. The competitors of Silk Way Rally will adjoin many times to the history on these legendary routes.

 

 

As they enter the Middle Volga region, the crews will cross the sites of some of the biggest battles, such as those of Chudskaya and Poltava, as well as the battles against Napoleon’s French armies, or those of World War Two from 1941-1945. Far removed from armed conflict, this region has also been the birthplace and inspiration of poets, painters and writers such as Pouchkine, Lermontov, Baratynsky, Gogol or Levitan.

In the lower reaches of the Volga racers will pass on one of the place of the historic trade Silk Way in the direction of the Black sea. The region has remarkable nature, which is highlighted by the variety of landscapes. The geological environment can change just as often as the climate, with its huge agricultural areas which give way to picturesque hills, deep canyons or hidden marshes.

Southern Russia is also the land of the great steppes and of legends that tell the story of the Golden Horde: the empire which died out in the 15th century established its prestige through the wealth of its towns and the beauty of its women.

After the banks of the River Volga, where, in particular, sturgeon is farmed for its caviar, the competitors will leave the steppes and head for the sandy dunes of Kalmykia, where they will get a taste of wide open and boundless spaces. In addition to the beauty of the sites, the warmth and the hospitality of the Russians will help them to withstand the difficulties faced on the tracks. The most curious of them will take the time to sample the delicacies of Russian cuisine, which has also been inspired by the country’s many cultures, reflecting both the reserve of the northerners and liveliness of the southerners

 

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2012 World Rally Championship as perfect preparation

2012, marked another milestone for Volkswagen on the way to the World Rally Championship. With his co-driver Julien Ingrassia, Sébastien Ogier contested his first rally for Volkswagen – at none less than the legendary Monte Carlo Rally. The outing at this classic also marked the opening of a WRC season under real conditions. Although the French duo was not driving the Polo R WRC, the findings that the pilots and team glean from contesting these events are an important part of the meticulous preparation work for the 2013 debut.

Škoda Fabia S2000 instead of the Volkswagen Polo R WRC

Whilst the preparations and the running are undertaken entirely by Volkswagen Motorsport, in 2012 a Fabia S2000 vehicle of the Group’s Škoda brand is fielded. It runs in the SWRC class for slightly less powerful cars. Due to their lower performance compared to the more powerful WRC models, cars can only gain achievement recognition. But that is not what Volkswagen is aiming for: The main priority is that the seasoned “Dakar” squad from Wolfsburg can familiarise themselves with the sometimes complex procedures of a WRC weekend in order to launch straight into the 2013 season in an organised and experienced manner.

Two stars and chances for youngsters

Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia share one of the two Fabia S2000 cars for the entire 2012 season. In the cockpit of the second car, Volkswagen gives youngsters a chance to show what they can do and earn themselves a seat in the Polo R WRC. Kevin Abbring from the Netherlands and his Belgian co-driver Frédéric Miclotte as well as the Norwegian pair Andreas Mikkelsen and Ola Fløene take turns over the course of the season.

Journey once around the world

There are 13 rounds on the World Rally Championship calendar in 2012. Eight of these are on gravel, two are on tarmac or mixed surfaces, one is on snow and ice. Monte Carlo opened the season in January, at the end of August Volkswagen contests its home event around Trier, with the Spanish round in mid November marking the end of the season. The longest journeys go to destinations like South America.

First successes boost excitement and motivation

Not necessarily intentional but certainly very welcome: Volkswagen tackled the new WRC challenge with early successes. Class victories and even world championship points regularly go to Volkswagen Motorsport. A pleasant side effect: Pilots and teams don’t just learn about procedures during rallies, but they also know how it feels to climb the podium

Volkswagen driver Sébastien Ogier takes class victory in Sweden

Victory on ice and snow: the Volkswagen factory team successfully concluded the test outing in the Rally Sweden, round two of the FIA World Rally Championship 2012, and collected valuable experience for the future rallies with the Polo R WRC. Sébastien Ogier and his co-driver Julien Ingrassia (F/F) took class victory with their Škoda Fabia, their team mates Andreas Mikkelsen and Ola Fløene (N/N) clinched third place. With more than 200,000 spectators looking on they regularly left more powerful WRC cars trailing in their wake on the way to eleventh and 14th in the overall standings.

“The Rally Sweden is one of the real highlights of the World Championship season since it is only here that spiked tyres are used on snow and ice throughout the entire event. The character is unique and it was equally important for our team to collect experience in order to be as well prepared as possible next year with the Polo R WRC,” explained Volkswagen Motorsport Director Kris Nissen. “Sébastien Ogier and Andreas Mikkelsen effectively controlled the Super 2000 class and were not only fast in the process, but also drove very reliably and within their limits – our two Fabias ran without problems, so many thanks to our team also for the excellent work.”

The Rally Sweden, which consisted of over 350 kilometres run against the clock on 24 special stages in the Swedish province Värmlands Län and in neighbouring Norway, provided spectators with rallying in its most spectacular form. The high speeds, long drifts and big jumps on the icy tracks set the hearts racing of the many rally fans lining the stages. Compact special stages close to the service park in Hagfors and head-to-head duels around the floodlit horse racing course in the start and finish area in Karlstad also inspired the spectators. The two Fabias of group brand Škoda fielded by Volkswagen Motorsport numbered among the crowd’s favourites from the very beginning. Sébastien Ogier took the S2000 class lead on the opening stage. With eight top-ten results and much to the enjoyment of the many fans he repeatedly moved into the leading group of the more powerful WRC. “That was a very good rally for us. I’m very happy with our class win. The conditions on the stages were better than expected and it was great fun to drive here. Our pace was very good and because our team mates were also very fast the rally was interesting and informative for the entire team. After all is said and done and it was also the first rally on snow and ice with spiked tyres for our team,” said the 28-year old Frenchman. Not even a puncture on the twelfth stage or changing the fuel filter after the 18th stage could slow Ogier/Ingrassia.

The 22-year old current Intercontinental Rally Challenge (IRC) Champion Andreas Mikkelsen enjoyed the stages through his homeland Norway on Friday was able to match his team mate’s pace throughout, before losing valuable time and a near certain second position in the class after suffering a puncture on the 22nd special stage. “My second rally with Volkswagen was a very, very good experience – it was obviously a great shame to lose second place within sight of the finish. Our first event together last year was the first WRC rally for the team. It was great to see just how much the team has developed since then. The teamwork is fabulous,” said the Škoda UK driver who, together with co-driver Ola Fløene, contests selected rounds of the WRC for Volkswagen this year and otherwise aims to defend his IRC title. “When compared with the IRC events you must change your approach a little in the WRC. The rallies are longer, but at the same time you have fewer opportunities during the service breaks. You can’t drive so uncompromisingly, but want to be just as fast.”

 

Volkswagen celebrates class victory in the Rally Monte Carlo

Volkswagen Junior Kevin Abbring (23) and his codriver Lara Vanneste (21) produced a fantastic performance on their way to taking victory in the S2000 class for Volkswagen in the 80th Rally Monte Carlo. The rally classic in the principality on the Cote d’Azur is part of the FIA World Championship for the first time since 2008.

Kevin Abbring and Lara Vanneste were awarded the winner’s trophy in the square overshadowed by the Royal Palace in Monaco after a total of 1772 kilometres and 18 demanding special stages, which included the infamous run to Col de Turini. For the young Dutchman and his Belgian co-driver it is the second S2000 class victory after taking the spoils at the Rally Great Britain in November 2011. At the same time Abbring, who celebrated his 23rd birthday in the cockpit on Friday, gave himself his favourite present. “I’m delighted. To win the ‘Monte’ is simply an indescribable feeling. Lara and I are very proud,” beamed Abbring during the victory ceremony at the Royal Palace. “We improved from stage to stage and implemented the team’s instructions. My heartfelt thanks to the entire Volkswagen team for the support, we worked perfectly together.”

“A big complement to our driver teams and the entire team because in rallying a win is always a win for the complete team,” emphasised a satisfied Volkswagen Motorsport Director Kris Nissen (51). “Kevin put in a fantastic performance, we are proud of him and his co-driver Lara. He impressively demonstrated what a huge talent he is and why we support him as Volkswagen Junior.”

New Volkswagen factory driver Sébastien Ogier (28) and co-driver Julien Ingrassia (32) had already attracted a great deal of attention beforehand. The two Frenchmen held fourth place overall on occasion in the less powerful S2000 car – before an accident meant an early end for the two. Nissen: “Sébastiens Speed was incredible on the opening stages. This proves that we have signed a driver with great potential. I’m convinced that he’ll be good for one or the other big surprise during the World Championship rallies this year.” The Frenchman also looks forward optimistically to his next outing during the Rally Sweden (9 to 12 February). “I feel very comfortable on the car and team. We were extremely competitive before the accident,” said Ogier, who was third in the WRC in 2011. “The difficult conditions at the start of the rally were an advantage for us because the difference in power between the Fabia S2000 and the WRC class didn’t have such a big effect. We aim to maintain our pace in Sweden and I’m confident that we will also be fast there.”

In 2012 Volkswagen contests rounds of the World Rally Championship with two Fabia S2000 cars from the group brand Škoda. The rallies act as preparation for the 2013 season in which Volkswagen will compete with the Polo R WRC in rallying’s top-flight.