Sunday, May 1, 2011

WRC Jordan 2011

The political strife around the Middle East (including Jordan itself) put the Jordan Rally in doubt, but the organisers decided to have the event go ahead anyway. It was not the best idea.

The problems started when everything had to rerouted around Syria when it became unsafe for travel. After establishing a new route, the organisers cancelled the first day's stages to allow time for scrutineering and shakedown, but even that schedule was in doubt when engine trouble on the transport ship caused even further delays.

Everything arrived in the middle of the night with only a few hours before scrutineering. In that short time, the teams had to accomplish tasks that they normally have three days to complete, such as assembling the service area and setting up the cars. It was quite an impressive feat that they were all ready in time. And thanks to their incredible effort, it turned out to be one the best rallies ever!

Loeb got off to a blistering start but he was second on the road and still sweeping somewhat. As expected, after two stages he had dropped to third overall. He held that position until the final stage of the day, where he slowed down in the middle of the stage, a very unusual tactic. Latvala and Petter Solberg both slowed as well in order to remain behind Loeb.

But Ogier, who was in the lead but had a much better road position, kept his foot in it and stormed to a 31s lead over Loeb, who again found himself in second place overall, which meant on day three he would again be second on the road, identical to the situation on day two. In fact he was worse off because from that position, 31s was a lot of time to make up. His tactic had failed completely.

Loeb tried very hard on day three, forcing him into several uncharacteristic errors. This was not the first time that Loeb has buckled under pressure this season and I suspect it will not be the last. It wasn't long before he lost second place to Latvala who, thanks to better road position, soon passed Ogier for the lead.

But, going into the final stage, Latvala's lead was a mere 0.5s which set up a real thriller of a stage. With such a small margin, every mistake mattered. Unfortunately, Latvala had a few too many wild moments while Ogier had very tidy run, which earned him a well deserved win by only 0.2s. It was the narrowest victory in WRC history.

Phew! Now to catch my breath before the next rally. ^_^

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