Monday | 30 Nov 2015

Weekend specials for WRC stars

The championship might be over but star drivers Thierry Neuville, Quentin Gilbert and Mikko Hirvonen were each behind the wheel of rally cars at the weekend, keeping their skills up in the off-season.

Neuville [above] was in Italy for his first attempt at the Monza Rally and finished runner-up to one of his motor sport idols.

Driving a Hyundai i20 WRC alongside guest co-driver Julien Vial, Neuville showed stage-winning pace, but didn't have the correct tyre compounds to take the fight to Moto GP legend Valentino Rossi in a Ford Fiesta RS.

Rossi took victory by 13.4sec with Neuville promising a second attempt in 2016. "Next year we will be back with all the necessary tyres to give Vale a rematch!" he said.

Junior WRC and WRC 3 champion Quentin Gilbert got preparations for his 2016 WRC 2 campaign off to a great start with a strong performance at Rallye du Var, the final round of the French championship.

Driving a DS 3 R5, the Frenchman was locked in a podium scrap with ex-Mitsubishi works team driver Freddy Loix in a Skoda Fabia R5 and WRC class runners David Salanon (Ford Fiesta RS) and Pierre Roche (Mini Cooper WRC).

A final stage push from Gilbert jumped him ahead of both Roche and Loix to take a well-deserved class win, second overall to Salanon's more powerful Fiesta.

One year after his WRC retirement, former Ford works driver Hirvonen reunited with co-driver Jarmo Lehtinen at Rally Lanzarote. The pair led in a Mini Cooper WRC after the opening stage but retired on day two with a technical issue. Next stop for Mikko is another MINI adventure - this time driving a MINI ALL4 Racing at January's Dakar Rally.

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