Thursday, September 16, 2010

WRC Japan 2010

When Loeb is off the pace, the character of the rally changes a lot. All the drivers who might be fighting for second and third seem to up their game when driving for first or second. At one point in Rally Japan, there were five contenders to take the win. I wonder if Loeb would consider taking a year off rallying so we can have that kind of intensity for the whole season? Unfortunately, I doubt Citroen will let him!

Petter Solberg was bloody fast in Japan and came very, very, very close to winning the rally. But, as usual, he has the worst luck. On day one, he was fighting the flu. On day two, he got a ten second penalty for jumping the start on stage 13, which cost him the rally lead (although Ogier played the strategy game and handed the lead back later). On day three Solberg suffered a mechanical problem, which finished any hope for the win. But he still managed to finish second, which was still very impressive considering all the problems he had. Solberg's mechanical gremlins are all due to team's shoestring budget.

Solberg's problems somewhat gifted Ogier with a win. Don't misunderstand; Ogier's performace was outstanding. It was his first time in Japan and he isn't so confident on the bumpy rutted road surfaces, so he drove very well. However, Solberg's confidence that he could have beaten Ogier carries a lot of weight for me. Solberg usually doesn't make statements like that.

Hirvonen is no longer a championship contender and yet it was one of his best rallies this year. So the trick is to get Hirvonen to not fight for the driver's title. You never know, it might just work. Hirvonen's Ford suffered gearbox a problem which is what prevented him from fighting for the win on day three.

Latvala was very impressive as well and was leading the rally on day two, until his Ford also had from mechanical woes. If this looks like a pattern in the Ford team, yes, yes it is. Ford's lack of reliability is one reason Citroen are running away with the constructors title (Loeb being the other reason). The only surprise is that Citroen haven't already clinched the title.

Interesting factoid. It takes about 12 minutes to replace a gearbox in a WRC car. Any chance we can get that technology in our road cars?

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