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Sébastien Ogier’s triumph on the Algarve is the eighth WRC victory in a row for the team from Hannover. The winners’ trophies went the way of Volkswagen in Australia, France, Spain and Great Britain at the end of 2013, and the team has this year added victories in Monte Carlo, Sweden, Mexico and now Portugal. The Polo R WRC’s eighth WRC success in a row means Volkswagen pulls level with its rivals at Citroën, whose longest winning run of eight rallies dates back to 2011.
Volkswagen driver Sébastien Ogier found himself third overall after the opening leg of the Rally Portugal. In the face of stern competition, the Frenchman had to settle for fifth place on Friday’s final special stage (Almodôvar 2) citing poor tire choice for the first two legs of the rally contributing to his third place overall on Friday night. “Being first out onto the route was obviously not exactly an advantage today. Let’s see what happens tomorrow,” said Ogier in the finish area.
“Pedal to the metal” was the Volkswagen driver’s motto Saturday and on the longest Special Stage at the Rally Portugal (Santana da Serra 1), Ogier drove the 32-kilometre section in 23:10.2 minutes which became the fastest time of the day. This saw the Frenchman take 8.7 seconds off the previous leader Mikko Hirvonen (Ford) and he took the lead in the overall standings. Following that stage, he enjoyed a 2.4 second advantage over Hirvonen. “It was a good Special Stage for us. Long may it continue,” Ogier said happily at the finish. A dominant run through Saturday’s second loop awarded Ogier a 9.8 second advantage and after the last stage of the day he had a commanding 38 second lead coming into Sunday’s final stages of the rally.
The Volkswagen pair didn’t miss a trick on the final rally day and brought home a solid victory. The cherry on the top was Ogier seizing a fantastic stage win on the closing Power Stage (Loulé 2) and three extra points for the drivers’ standings. On Sunday he went easy on his tyres on the first two Special Stages, even accepting a slight loss of time to rival Mikko Hirvonen (Ford). With a superior stage win on the closing Power Stage, Ogier proved that this tactic was worth its weight in gold.
With the Power Stage victory he secured the maximum number of points, 28, and stretched his lead in the table to 29 points ahead of team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala (Polo R WRC #2). “It was extremely important, now I can take a slightly more relaxed approach to the next rallies.”
“Four wins in five years. It is no exaggeration: the Rally Portugal is one of my very favourites! said Ogier. “The whole week has been fantastic for Julien and me. First the fantastic show in front of more than 100,000 fans at the ‘Fafe Rally Sprint’, and now the icing on the cake with our title defence at the Rally Portugal on the Algarve. The encouragement and support of the fans is rather special here. We only took as many risks as needed on soft tyres on the final day. Despite this, our goal was obviously to pick up the three points on the Power Stage, although Jari-Matti did not make it easy for me. The lead in the World Championship is now a bit larger, but the opposition is not sleeping – Mikko Hirvonen and Mads Østberg showed that. I heard that Markku Alén is the uncrowned king with five wins in Portugal. We can achieve that too next year. That is our goal.”
Girl power reigned supreme when Alexis DeJoria (Funny Car) and Erica Enders-Stevens (Pro Stock) raced to victories last Sunday at the SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Tony Schumacher (Top Fuel) also was a winner at the fourth event on the 2014 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule. It was the second time that two female drivers have earned victories at the same NHRA event. In 2012, Courtney Force and Enders-Stevens made history as the first pair of females to win the same race at Pacific Raceways in Seattle.
“This was definitely a grudge match [with Hight] coming off our win in Phoenix,” DeJoria said. “I was just in shock when we won there. It was gratifying and intense. Today my team gave me a good car and got me down the track first. I really appreciate them so much and all they give up to help this team go racing.”Coming into her third full-time season in Funny Car, DeJoria had only appeared in one career final. The 2014 season has changed the fortunes for her Patron XO Cafe Toyota Camry team when she outpaced Robert Hight with a 4.026-second pass at 309.98 mph. It’s the second win of her career following her breakthrough victory in Phoenix earlier this season, coincidentally also over Hight.
DeJoria defeated Matt Hagan, Tony Pedregon, and Cruz Pedregon to reach her first final in Las Vegas, the home headquarters of her primary sponsor.
“It was a good day at the office, especially with the Patron Spirits company located right here in Las Vegas,” DeJoria said.
Hight, appearing in his third final to start the season, piloted his Auto Club Ford Mustang to the final with victories over Jeff Arend, Paul Lee, and Ron Capps. Hight’s second-round win over Lee was especially surprising. Many had expected Hight and 16-time Funny Car world champ John Force to face off, but Force was ousted by Lee.
DeJoria departs Las Vegas third in points and holds the most wins so far during the season. Despite losing in the final, Hight takes over the points lead.
After struggling to find sponsorship and only being able to race a partial schedule last season, Enders-Stevens is thankful for the opportunity that team owner Richard Freeman presented her for 2014. Enders-Stevens had a successful weekend in Las Vegas, sweeping the K&N Horsepower Challenge and taking today’s Pro Stock title. After defeating Dave Connolly to win $50,000 on Saturday, Enders-Stevens took out Larry Morgan, Steve Kent, Chris McGaha, and Jason Line to secure her seventh career victory at the controls of her Elite Motorsports Chevy Camaro.
“I have a different mindset,” Enders-Stevens of her new attitude this year. “It goes back to the people [I’m around] — for the first time since I raced with my family as a kid, and then in the Sportsman ranks, I’m having fun again. As a driver, it adds a lot of pressure when you have the fastest car, but I like that.”
With that win, she became the third-winningest female driver in a Pro class behind only Angelle Sampey and Shirley Muldowney. She leaves Las Vegas as the Pro Stock points leader, becoming the first female in history to lead the points standings in the factory hot rod category.
“It certainly is very important to us; it keeps us going on this 24-race schedule,” said Enders-Stevens, who earned $100,000 during the weekend, which also includes a $25,000 Sweep Bonus from NHRA. “This is storybook. We’ve gone a few years without sponsorship; there were definitely more lows than highs. It would have been easy to quit. This is definitely a highlight. Next to winning a championship, this is probably the coolest thing in the world.”
Line was going for his second victory of the 2014 season and second in Las Vegas. The driver of the Summit Racing Equipment Chevy Camaro defeated Deric Kramer, Dave Connolly, and teammate Jimmy Alund en route to the final.
“The final round was fantastic; I could hear him the whole way,” said Schumacher, who was racing in his 126th career Top Fuel final. “It was important for us to get this win. There’s a lot of pressure early in the season to get a win and get into the [Traxxas NHRA] Shootout for a chance to race for $100,000. I love the pressure. We’re a high-pressure, adversity kind of team.”In Top Fuel, Schumacher snapped a 15-race win drought by beating points leader Doug Kalitta with a performance of 3.797 at 326.16 in his U.S. Army dragster. It was Schumacher’s 73rd career victory and his eighth in Las Vegas.
Schumacher advanced to the final with early round wins over Troy Buff, Spencer Massey, and Antron Brown.
“I’m not angry that we hadn’t won in a long time,” Schumacher said. “I was disappointed, but I understand that you have to make leaps and bounds. Kalitta is running great, Antron is running good, the Alan Johnson [Al-Anabi] cars are going to be bad to the bone pretty soon. We have to keep forcing the issue.”
Kalitta has had the best start to the season in Top Fuel and continued that by reaching his third final of the year. With the win in Gainesville and the two runner-up finishes in Pomona and Las Vegas, Kalitta increased his points lead over Brown to 73 points.
- See more at: http://www.nhra.com/story/2014/3/30/2014-las-vegas1-sunday/#sthash.kwwxrdx9.dpuf
MINI and the Monster Energy X-raid team have got their sights set on defending their FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies title. After two World Cup overall victories in a row, MINI, which won the legendary Dakar Rally with the MINI ALL4 Racing for the third time in a row back in January, is title favourite once again for the 2014 season.
A promising marker for the title defence was put down in the first world cup event of the current season at the Baja Russia in the middle of February. It was here that four MINI ALL4 Racing cars, based on the MINI John Cooper Works Countryman, once again demonstrated their performance and reliability. Vladimir Vasilyev (RU) took second place and the Pole Martin Kaczmarski was fourth. The result is even more impressive given the fact that the Baja Russia was the first Marathon Rally that the MINI ALL4 Racing cars have competed in over snow and ice.
Following a successful title defence at the Dakar Rally by Joan “Nani” Roma (ES), the X-raid team and the MINI brand are confident going into the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies 2014 season. In the last years, MINI has grown into a real force in the international Marathon Rally sport. A long-standing partnership with the X-raid team is filled with numerous successes, including three overall Dakar Rally crowns in a row.
This year’s World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies consists of ten events in total, including rallies in Egypt, Hungary, Poland, Morocco and Portugal. The fact that there are now three additional rally events on the calendar makes the championship even more challenging. However, MINI and the X-raid team are confident of mastering this challenge and defending their title.
On the 13-16 March 2014, the Baja Italy will be this season’s second world cup event. MINI and the X-raid team will take to the start in the northeast of Italy with two MINI ALL4 Racing cars, which will be driven by Vladimir Vasilyev and Martin Kaczmarski. A total distance of 608.78 kilometres will be covered in Italy, 378.51 km of which will be stage kilometres.
Race calendar for the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies:
14.02 – 16.02 Baja Russia
13.03 – 16.03 Baja Italy
03.04 – 04.04 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge
20.04 – 25.04 Cross-Country Rally Qatar
18.05 – 25.05 Pharaons Rally Egypt
18.07 – 20.07 Baja Aragon
14.08 – 17.08 Hungarian Baja
28.08 – 30.08 Baja Poland
03.10 – 09.10 Rally Morocco
30.10 – 02.11 Baja Portugal
Audi has developed a new concept for the R18 e-tron quattro’s ergonomics for the 2014 season. The configuration of the elements in the cockpit is even more logical now, their functions have been rethought, and the seating position has been improved. This makes it easier for the Audi drivers in the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) to operate the controls of the hybrid sports car.
The range of tasks is growing: The Audi drivers not only have to pay the same attention to safety, speed and precision on track as before, but now have to get an exact handle on efficiency as well. The maximum consumption per lap specified by the regulations requires utmost discipline to avoid penalties. To make optimal concentration easier, the drivers’ work in the cockpit should involve as little effort as possible.
“Long before the 2014 season, we took an in-depth look at how we could support our drivers even better,” says Dr. Martin Mühlmeier, Head of Technology at Audi Sport. “The result is a cockpit in which we practically changed everything – from the pedals through to the functions on the steering wheel and on the dashboard. Additionally, the seating position has been changed according to the regulations.”
The innovations start in the foot well. The drivers no longer operate the clutch using a foot pedal but by means of paddles behind the steering wheel. “This is a principle I’m already familiar with from other race car categories which makes it easier to operate the clutch,” says Audi factory driver Lucas di Grassi describing the advantages.
The configuration of the controls between the dashboard and the steering wheel has changed as well. “Our objective was for the driver to be able to reach all the functions he frequently uses as easily as possible without having to take his hands off the wheel,” explains Chris Reinke, Head of LMP at Audi Sport. One of the new features is a multi-functional rotary switch for selecting tasks that used to be performed by using various controls. Two push-buttons make it possible for the driver to easily change individual functions to adjust the car’s balance, for instance through traction control or brake force distribution. As balance changes when the fuel load decreases, the driver can quickly readjust the set-up of his race car this way.
Another ergonomic consequence results from the regulations for 2014. They prescribe a change in cockpit dimensions and a different seating position which significantly benefits the driver. While he used to lie relatively flat in the monocoque before, his upper body is now in a more upright position. “This enlarges the forward angle of vision,” says a pleased Lucas di Grassi. “And vision through the side windows has notably improved as well. This clearly helps us in the on-track battles with our rivals.”
So the new Audi R18 e-tron quattro is not only a particularly efficient race car but ergonomically superior to its predecessors as well. “The new ergonomics help our drivers concentrate on the optimal lap even better than before,” says Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich. “In total, this enhances their performance capacity and adds to active safety.”