2014 Winter Autotest 

2014 Winter Autotest

Fourteen competitors braved arctic conditions to make the trip to Knockhill for the 2014 Winter Autotest and were rewarded by steadily improving weather which ended up being quite a pleasant day.

Brodie Balfour brought out the new Aygo only to have a CV joint break on the very first test, but better to happen there than on the first Rally of the season.

Rory Briant, the new Development Officer for Scottish Motor Sport, came along and was persuaded to have a go in one of David Barlow's Micras. He demonstrated his considerable driving skills by winning the Production Car section of the event with Bob Watson sitting beside him. Only Colin Rae in the Mini Special was quicker on the day.

The "Barrel Run" part of the event was held in the West Padock but the main attraction was the two tests held on the Rally course on the hillside.

Despite the drying conditions, the course was very slippery as Knockhill have recently carried out some construction works on the concrete roads, leaving generous quantities of mud on the surface. Rumour has it that some of the quicker Junior drivers were grabbing third gear on the quickest part of the second test!

Needless to say there were huge smiles at the end, and calls for more of the same next time.

Because of the distance and lack of visibility between start and  finish lines, the Club radios were used to communicate betwen the two which gave a distinct "Rally" feel to the tests. However the trusty marshals coped admirably helping to make the whole event go off without incident.


Next Autotest will be the Andy Wilson Memorial event, provisional date, 20th April.


 Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F), Volkswagen Polo R WRC
Andreas Mikkelsen/Mikko Markkula (N/FIN), Volkswagen Polo R WRC
Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN), Volkswagen Polo R WRC
Sébastien Ogier
Andreas Mikkelsen
Jari-Matti Latvala
Volkswagen Service
  • Volkswagen drivers dominate day one of the Rally Sweden
  • Ogier, Mikkelsen, Latvala – three-way battle at the only all-snow rally of the year
  • Six of seven stage wins go to Wolfsburg

On course for gold, silver and bronze at the rallying world’s Winter Games – Volkswagen ended the first day of the Rally Sweden in first, second and third. Just with their noses in front are Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia (F/F). Over the course of the first seven of 24 special stages, the World Champions were involved in a thrilling internal duel at the top of the standings with fellow Volkswagen pair Andreas Mikkelsen/Mikko Markkula (N/FIN). A mere 5.8 seconds separate Ogier and Mikkelsen, who both have three stage wins to their name. And team-mates Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN) are not to be forgotten either. They are a further 6.4 seconds behind Mikkelsen/Markkula in third place – well within striking distance of the leaders.

Following yesterday evening’s opening stage in Karlstad, the Rally Sweden took its competitors on a loop into Norway and back to the Service Park in Hagfors. Four of the six special stages were held over the border. Despite unusually warm weather in the run-up to the Rally Sweden, the “Torsby”, “Kirkener” and “Finnskogen” special stages were in good condition. As World Championship leader, Sébastien Ogier was first out onto the route. His team-mates Jari-Matti Latvala and Andreas Mikkelsen followed him in third and sixth positions respectively. All three Volkswagen drivers now find themselves excellently placed going into day two: the Polo R WRC has so far set 14 of a possible 21 top-three times at this year’s Rally Sweden.

Quotes after day one of the Rally Sweden

Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1
“To be first onto the route at a winter rally in Sweden is always difficult. As such, I was not sure what position we would find ourselves in come the evening. Anything in the top three would have been great. I am really extremely happy that we are actually leading the rally. The conditions were remarkably good, and better than we had expected. I am very happy with my own performance. It was a perfect day for us, and to have won three special stages from this starting position is a dream result. We now go into day two full of optimism.”

Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2
“I coped very well with the fast, flowing sections today. However, I unfortunately lost too much time on the short, winding stages. I had problems finding enough grip and a good rhythm on them. Séb and Andreas really set fantastic times. Andreas, in particular, was virtually unbeatable in his native Norway. Tomorrow is a new day, and I start from a good position in third. Maybe I can mix things up a bit at the top of the standings.”

Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9
“That was definitely the best day I have had since I joined Volkswagen. I won three stages and led the rally – and all on my own doorstep. Then there were the many Norwegian flags, my family and friends who came here to cheer me on. You obviously want to put on a particularly good show with all that support. The conditions were not easy today. I actually held a slender lead going into the final special stage of the day, but decided to save my tyres for tomorrow morning. As such, I lost a bit of time. My goal remains a podium finish. I will certainly not risk everything, but anything is possible.”

Jost Capito, Volkswagen Motorsport Director
“The job of Volkswagen Motorsport Director is a dream job – especially today. One, two and three – it just doesn’t get any better than this. I am extremely proud of the entire team: the drivers and co-drivers, engineers and mechanics. However, I am particularly proud of Andreas Mikkelsen and Mikko Markkula. They produced an outstanding display today, going head-to-head with the World Champions and leading the rally for a while. I am delighted for them both. However, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia took full advantage of their opportunities today, even though they were first out onto the route. Last, but definitely not least: Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila in third place, who still have a good chance of winning and were in no way inferior to their team-mates. They rounded off the most successful day of rallying to date for Volkswagen.”

And then there was ...

... the unofficial Rally Norway – won today by Volkswagen. And by a Norwegian. The “Kirkener” and “Finnskogen” special stages, each of which was tackled twice, were held just over the border between Sweden and Norway. The only Volkswagen driver in the top three on all four stages: Andreas Mikkelsen.



FIA World Rally Championship (WRC),
Rallye Sweden – results
05 February 2014
km #1
SS 01S Karlstad 1 01.90 P02
(+ 0.8s)
(+ 2.4s)
Overall classification P02
(+ 0.8s)
(+ 2.4s)
06 February 2014
km #1
SS 02 Torsby 1 07.03 P01 P03
(+ 2.7s)
(+ 3.8s)
SS 03 Kirkener 1 07.16 P01 P03
(+ 6.6s)
(+ 5.7s)
SS 04 Finnskogen 1 16.82 P06
(+ 7.1s)
(+ 2.3s)
SS 05 Kirkener 2 07.16 P05
(+ 3.0s)
(+ 3.6s)
(+ 1.9s)
SS 06 Finnskogen 2 16.82 P02
(+ 0.7s)
(+ 1.7s)
SS 07 Torsby 2 07.03 P01 P05
(+ 4.5s)
(+ 6.0s)
Overall classification P01 P03
(+ 12.2s)
(+ 5.8s)
Peugeot Sport Director, Bruno Famin with Hansen Motorsport Team Manager Kenneth Hansen
  • Peugeot joins Ford in signing up to motorsport’s newest and fastest-growing World Championship 
  • Team Peugeot-Hansen to benefit from extensive French and Swedish rallycross expertise
  • Manufacturer looking forward to competing in ‘strategically important markets’ in 2014

Peugeot has followed in the wheel tracks of Ford in becoming the second major manufacturer to commit to the inaugural season of the FIA World Rallycross Championship presented by Monster Energy.
A name synonymous with rallycross success – having clinched eight French drivers’ championship crowns between 1988 and 2012 and boasting a similar record across the various different divisions in Europe over the same period – Peugeot is a natural fit for motorsport’s newest and most exciting World Championship.
After Ford pledged its official backing to OlsbergsMSE’s World RX effort in 2014, fellow big-hitter Peugeot has joined forces with another of rallycross’ leading outfits, Hansen Motorsport, as it prepares to enter the fray for the championship’s debut campaign this year. Team Peugeot-Hansen will compete in the Supercar class in all 12 rounds on the calendar – beginning at Montalegre in Portugal in May – with a T16 silhouette version of its 208 model.
Peugeot’s broad involvement in motorsport over the decades has yielded title glory in the FIA World Rally Championship, FIA World Sportscar Championship, gruelling Dakar Rally and round-the-clock Le Mans 24 Hours, not to mention extraordinary record-breaking feats at Pikes Peak hillclimb in the United States.
Martin Anayi, Managing Director of World RX Promoter, IMG Motorsport, welcomed the confirmation of the French manufacturer’s latest challenge.
“We are delighted that Peugeot Sport has joined Ford Racing in committing to officially supporting professional race teams entering the FIA World Rallycross Championship in its inaugural year,” he said. “To have a second major manufacturer involved in this way is another significant coup for our fast-growing series.
“With the knowledge, experience and expertise of Hansen Motorsport behind the project, the team looks set to be a front-running contender in what is sure to be a thrilling and fiercely-disputed season of rallycross competition.”
Peugeot Sport Director, Bruno Famin explained that rallycross’ burgeoning popularity amongst a whole new generation of fans – allied to the rapidly-growing discipline’s exhilarating and affordable entertainment in vital markets – made World RX a perfect match for the brand’s international ambitions.
“At Peugeot Sport, we are constantly looking to explore different forms of motorsport,” he said. “Rallycross is a discipline that is expanding quickly, and that includes the introduction of an FIA-sanctioned World Championship from this year. We were attracted to the sport by a long list of factors, including its spectacular side, the big crowds it draws and the cars that are involved. They are very close to our target.
“We naturally sought to strike up a relationship with one of the best teams in the business, namely Hansen Motorsport. Team Peugeot-Hansen is starting from scratch for this new championship, and we face a fascinating challenge with a calendar of 12 rounds across the world in some of the most strategically important markets for the brand.”
Hansen Motorsport Team Manager Kenneth Hansen is the most successful driver in rallycross history, with no fewer than 14 FIA European Championship titles to his name, six silver medals in the series and ten Swedish crowns. The ultra-experienced Swede is hoping his squad can continue adding to its impressive trophy collection in World RX – a championship whose entry list is looking more competitive by the day.
“We are very proud and honoured to be working with Peugeot Sport in this year’s FIA World Rallycross Championship,” Hansen said. “We couldn’t be more motivated, but we are also acutely aware that the programme comes with a huge responsibility. Be sure, though, that we will do everything in our power to make sure Peugeot has no regrets about placing its faith in Hansen Motorsport.
“My entire focus is now on getting on with the work that awaits us, from the team’s branding to the tiniest of screws which will go into the car. Hansen Motorsport can look back at a successful record, and our big dream right now is to fight at the very front with Peugeot. This is a completely new project which starts here and now, so we will need to work harder than ever in our bid to secure more success in 2014.”
The Team Peugeot-Hansen driver line-up will be revealed at a later date.

Twingo Trophy UK prize announced 

Garry Pearson was the first winner of the Rallye du Var prize

The Twingo Renaultsport Trophy UK will take its place in the MSA British Rally Championship for the third consecutive year, with a fantastic prize drive on the final round of the French Rally Championship.

The arrive and drive prize in a Twingo R2 is supplied once again by Renault Sport Technologies, but this year it is possible to win the prize competing in either BRC3 or BRC5 classes.

The cost-effective series is open to anyone driving a Twingo complying with the FIA R1 regulations (1600cc with limited modifications), although the excellent prize is restricted to junior drivers (born on or after 1st January 1990).

BRC5 crews, the entry level class running within the NGK Spark Plugs BRC Challenge Trophy, will compete directly against BRC3 Twingos with the points based on equivalent stages at the end of the rally.

The series will follow all seven rallies, the final event, Rallye Sunseeker International leaving just four weeks before the Rallye du Var prize takes place on stages similar to those of the recent WRC Rallye Monte Carlo.

 Hyundai Shell World Rally Team, Rally Sweden

The Hyundai Shell World Rally Team is looking to continue its ambitious learning curve at the next round of the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC), Rally Sweden, which takes place next week from February 5 to 7.

Heading into only its second competitive rally outing, the Alzenau-based team will be determined to complete the challenging 24 special stages with both cars in the tough snowy conditions that participants will face in the popular Swedish event. 

For the Hyundai Shell World Rally Team, still in its infancy, accumulating mileage and experience in the competitive WRC environment is of paramount importance as it seeks to further develop the promising Hyundai i20 WRC cars.

The team will see a slight change to its driver line-up for Sweden as lead driver Thierry Neuville (Hyundai i20 WRC #7, co-driver Nicolas Gilsoul) will be joined by Finnish ace – and Hyundai test driver in 2013 – Juho Hänninen, who will be behind the wheel of the Hyundai i20 WRC #8, flanked by his compatriot Tomi Tuominen. 

The team started to prepare for Rally Sweden in early December with a five-day test in Rovaniemi, Finland, close to the Arctic Polar Circle, where both Neuville and Hänninen had a first taste of driving the Hyundai i20 WRC on snow. The test was used to identify the correct set-up for the rally and to give the drivers the right level of confidence to drive the Hyundai i20 WRC on snow at high speed. Both drivers will have an additional day of testing ahead of next week’s rally.

Team Principal of the Hyundai Shell World Rally Team Michel Nandan commented: “Rally Sweden next week represents our next opportunity to develop the Hyundai i20 WRC and to collect valuable feedback and data. Sweden is a specialised event where we will face several challenges: we have to ensure the car works in the extreme low temperatures, especially on road sections where the engine is not revving as high and make sure we have a good set-up for our cars to have as much traction and stability as possible. The third main challenge is the presence of snow banks on the side of the roads; it is very easy for the engines to digest snow even in the smallest collision. At Rallye Monte-Carlo, we didn’t cover the mileage we were hoping for but we still learned some important lessons for the future. The objective for Rally Sweden will be once again to bring both cars to the finish and to accumulate as many kilometres and as much experience as possible,” Nandan concluded.

Determined as ever after an unlucky Rallye Monte-Carlo, Neuville and co-driver Nicolas Gilsoul have only one objective for Rally Sweden: to bring their Hyundai i20 WRC to the finish: “I don’t have much experience on Rally Sweden having only competed there twice before - and snow is probably my least favourite surface but it’s a rally where I enjoy a lot driving and where we got a good result last year (fifth place). It’s a unique rally - very fast, with narrow roads and big snow banks alongside the roads. We tested for a couple of days for Sweden back in December where we got the first feeling of driving the Hyundai i20 WRC in full winter conditions. We also started to work on set-up solutions for this specific event. We will have another day of testing at the weekend which will allow us to do some final adjustments and cover some more kilometres ahead of the rally. After retiring at Rallye Monte-Carlo so early in the competition, Nicolas and I are really looking forward to get a fresh start and we want to finish Rally Sweden for ourselves and for the entire team,” he said.

Hänninen – who clinched his best WRC result to date at Rally Sweden last year – has four previous starts to his credit on this event which will mark his competitive debut within the Hyundai Shell World Rally Team: “I’m very proud to have the chance to drive for the Hyundai Shell World Rally Team at Rally Sweden. I was already privileged to be the first behind the wheel of the Hyundai i20 WRC back in May 2013 but being in Sweden with the team will feel even more special. It will be my first event within a WRC factory team and, for sure, it will be a special moment that I will remember for a long time. Rally Sweden is one of my favourite events. For a Finn, to drive on snow is almost a natural thing so of course we would like to get a good result but the main target for Tomi and I will be to finish the event and get as much experience as possible for the team which will be helpful for the rest of the year and for 2015 when we will put into practice what we learned during our first season in competition.”

Traditionally, the only true winter event on the WRC calendar, Rally Sweden will take the competitors to the forests of the Värmland region, crossing the border for two stages in Norway. To best cope with the extreme conditions, Hyundai Shell WRT’s partner Michelin will supply winter tyres fitted with over 380 tungsten-tipped studs which ensure perfect grip on the hard frozen surface underneath the soft snow. Meanwhile, drivers handle the cold with anti-glare glasses and heated boots.  This year’s edition of Rally Sweden includes 24 special stages (12 repeated twice), covering a total of 323.54 competitive kilometres.


Hyundai Shell World Rally Team Crews’ Info

Hyundai i20 WRC #7

Chassis number: 003




Thierry Neuville

Nicolas Gilsoul


16 June 1988

5 February 1982

First WRC event

2009, Rally Catalunya

2007, Rallye Monte-Carlo

WRC starts



WRC podiums



WRC wins



Rally Sweden starts



Rally Sweden previous results

2012: 12th (11th WRC), 2013: 5th

2008: 30th (16th N4 class),
2012: 12th (11th WRC),
2013: 5th


Hyundai i20 WRC #8

Chassis number: 001




Juho Hänninen

Tomi Tuominen


25 July 1981

8 November 1971

First WRC event

2006, Rally Sweden

1999, Rally Finland

WRC starts



WRC podiums



WRC wins



Rally Sweden starts



Rally Sweden previous results

2006: 15th,
2007: Excl.,
2008: 8th (1st PWRC),
2013: 6th

2008: 7th, 2013: 6th



ERC Sibiu Rally Romania postponed due to force majeure; alternative format and date now under consideration
Sibiu Rally Romania will not go ahead as a winter event after its postponement under force majeure due to exceptional heavy snowfall and forecasts of more severe weather around the competitive route leading to fears that safety would be compromised.
The event was scheduled as round three of the FIA European Rally Championship from 27 February-1 March. However, following the completion of an extensive safety and risk analysis report prepared by the event promoter and endorsed by Romania’s ASN, ERC promoter Eurosport Events has agreed to the rally’s cancellation as a winter event. Every effort is now being made to maintain Romania’s presence in the ERC, albeit at a later date and in a different format but still using the famous Transfăgărășan highway.
With 75 per cent of the special stages in the South Carpathian mountains taking place at an altitude of 1600 metres and the proposed Transfăgărășan stage peaking at 2400 metres, in light of Romania’s Institute of Meteorology forecasting extremely heavy snowfall in February, it was determined that the safety of competitors, spectators and the general public would be compromised if the rally went ahead as planned. This particularly concerns access roads no longer being passable and the resources of emergency and rescue services becoming overstretched.
The local promoter has now proposed an alternative format and date to Eurosport Events with an all-asphalt route of 220 kilometres – including a stage on part of the Transfăgărășan highway – from 9-11 October. Providing this proposal meets Eurosport Events’ criteria to ensure a successful round of the ERC, then Eurosport Events will consider potentially submitting the new format and date to the FIA Rally Commission for its approval when it meets on 12 March.

World Champion McNish Completes the BBC’s F1 team for 2014 

World Champion McNish Completes the BBC’s F1 team for 2014

Reigning FIA World Endurance Champion Allan McNish will be an integral  part of the BBC’s F1 team for 2014 as co-commentator for Radio 5 live and expert analyst across TV, radio and online.

Dumfries-born McNish will be “live” from the radio commentary box and will also feature across the BBC’s F1 output.

Allan, who announced his retirement last month from Le Mans sports-prototype racing, will use his extensive experience and knowledge gleaned from all areas of motorsport to steer audiences through the intricacies of the forthcoming season.

“Now that I have ‘hung up’ my racing helmet, I am really looking forward to joining the BBC team again for what I am sure is going to be a fantastic new F1 season,” commented McNish who is an Ambassador for Audi Sport.

“With so many technical rule changes, as well as team and driver movements, there will be lots of things happening on and off the track for the BBC team to bring to its various audiences”.

McNish, one of the most respected names in the world of motorsport, became Britain’s first sportscar world champion for 21 years and Scotland’s first ever in a 2013 season that saw him win a third career Le Mans 24 Hour race. He also worked as F1 co-commentator alongside James Allen for Radio 5 live.

Ben Gallop, BBC Head of F1, added: “The 2014 F1 season picks up pace tomorrow as testing begins and the BBC’s F1 team is ready to deliver another exciting year of coverage.

“We’re delighted that Allan McNish is on board with the team this year in an expanded role, his experience and expertise is an invaluable addition and audiences love him.”

BBC One and BBC One HD will show nine races “live” on TV, including Silverstone, Canada, Monza and Spa, as well as the season finale from Abu Dhabi, with extended highlights programmes of the remaining races. This goes the same for practice and qualifying.

Every Grands Prix of the season will be live on Radio 5 live or 5 live sports extra with live coverage of practice and qualifying. Plus all the action, news, reviews via the BBC Sport App and the BBC Sport Website, with Andrew Benson as Chief F1 writer.

McNish was on Audi Sport ambassadorial duty for the first time at the Daytona 24 Hours last weekend (25-26 Jan) – an annual twice-around-the clock race in Florida that Allan placed second on three occasions.

The first customer today was Gordon Malcolm, Eastern BMW’s i Sales Manager, with his i3 BMW demonstrator.

Knockhill Racing Circuit, Scotland’s National Motor Sport Centre, is celebrating 40 years of motor sport action this year, but also, 2014 is a landmark year for the future of motoring too as the Circuit now has its own ELECTRIC VEHICLE CHARGING POINT as part of Transport Scotland’s National campaign for a network of points throughout Scotland.

The first customer today was Gordon Malcolm, Eastern BMW’s i Sales Manager (pictured here), with his i3 BMW demonstrator.

Stuart Gray, Knockhill Events and Marketing Director said, “The BMW i3 is the perfect car to use the Knockhill charging point first as the BMW i brand stands for visionary vehicles, inspiring design and a new understanding of premium, defined by sustainability. Having test driven the i3 myself on Hogmanay, the new BMW i3 is an innovative experience and exhilarating too, and a near silent driving experience. Knockhill has a long history of “Green” measures as all our Subaru rally cars and go-karts are LPG and our safety lights are solar, and all our buildings are heated by building LPG too. We also promote and train 100’s of drivers a year on safer and economic driving skills via our Centre for Driving Excellence, so going green is now cool with the likes of the BMW i3.”

The charging point is located near Kinnairds Restaurant and the Knockhill Karting Centre and is available to anyone attending Knockhill which can be from all over Scotland, and beyond. Charging is free and available anytime that Knockhill is open (subject to occasional event restrictions such as Touring Cars when it will be for spectators attending the event only).

For more information, please contact Stuart Gray at Knockhill on 01383 723337 or information about the BMW i range from Gordon Malcolm at Eastern BMW at Newbridge on 0131 467 6000.