New engines to lead to more breakdowns in 2014

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McLaren sporting director Sam Michael expects to see more cars breaking down in 2014 as teams get to grips with the new engine regulations.

“Although we’re a world away from where we were 20 years ago in terms of preparation, ultimately until you get out there and run properly you’re not going to have as much reliability as you do on the current cars,” said Michael during a Vodafone McLaren Mercedes phone-in.

“Do I think it will mix things up? Probably.”

“There’ll be different results that wouldn’t occur like they do now. It’s just another thing that’s part of rule changes and it’s something you have to cope with.”

The change to 1.6-liter V6 turbo engines next year will be the first overhaul in the engine regulations since the current V8 units were introduced in 2006.

Michael added teams’ attempts to avoid having unreliability problems will inevitably by tempered by the desire to achieve maximum performance.

“When you’ve have such a big change to the powertrain from a mechanical side, you will build in more margin than what you would have done previously,” he said.

“You’ll be in one of two positions [in 2014]. Either you’ve pushed it too far and you’ll be unreliable or you’ll be too heavy and you’ll want to take some weight out of the car. Both of those things take time.

“You won’t have got it bang on in all areas of the car, so everyone will be in the same game.”

Neuville wins Rally Australia; Ogier takes FIA WRC title

Sebastien Ogier. Photo: Getty Images
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COFFS HARBOUR, Australia (AP) Belgium’s Thierry Neuville won Rally Australia by 22.5 seconds on Sunday as torrential rain added drama to the last day of the last race of the World Rally Championship season.

Neuville entered the final day with an almost 20 second advantage after inheriting the rally lead Saturday when his Hyundai teammate, defending champion Andreas Mikkelsen crashed and was forced to retire for the day.

His lead was halved by Jari-Matti Latvala early Sunday as monsoon-like rain made conditions treacherous on muddy forest stages on the New South Wales coast. The rain stopped on the short Wedding Bells stage where Neuville was almost 5 seconds quicker than his rivals, stretching his lead to 14.7 seconds entering the last stage.

COFFS HARBOUR, AUSTRALIA – NOVEMBER 17: Thierry Neuville of Belgium and Nicolas Gilsoul of Belgium compete in their Hyundai Motorsport WRT Hyundai i20 coupe WRC during Day One of the WRC Australia on November 17, 2017 in COFFS HARBOUR, Australia. (Photo by Massimo Bettiol/Getty Images)

That stage was full of incident. The driver’s door on Neuville’s Hyundai i20 coupe swung open in the middle of the stage and Neuville had to slam it closed as he approached a corner.

Latvala’s Toyota then crashed seconds from the end of the stage, allowing Estonia’s Ott Tanak, in a Ford, to take second place overall and New Zealalnd’s Haydon Paddon, in a Hyundai, to sneak into third.

Sebastian Ogier was fourth after winning the final, power stage but the Frenchman had already clinched his fifth world title before Rally Australia began. Neuville’s win was his fourth of the season, two more than Ogier, and was enough to give him second place in world drivers’ standings for the third time in five years.

Ogier owed his drivers’ title to his consistency: he retired only once and finished no worse than fifth all season.

Neuville admitted the last day was touch and go as the rain made some stages perilous, forcing the cancellation of the second to last stage.

“That was a hell of a ride,” Neuville said. “Really, really tricky conditions.

“I kept the car on the road but it was close sometimes. I knew I could make a difference but I had to be clever. You lose grip, you lose control and the car doesn’t respond to your input.”