Rally de France-Alsace
Rally dâ€™Italia Sardegna
Issue 3, November 2012
10 YEARS, 9 TITLES Image: Citroen Racing
Rally-eMag November 2012 / Colofon 2/23
What a month! After Sebastien Loeb announced his retirement (from full time rallying), he promptly took his ninth world crown and helped Citroen to the Manufacturer’s title. Shortly afterwards we were informed that both Ford and Mini are withdrawing from the WRC. Both have a rallying tradition, but Ford’s is much richer of course. They have been involved since forever and it is difficult to imagine a championship without them. On the other hand that’s rallying, where teams come and go. We lose two great manufacturers but in come two exciting new names. Volkswagen and Hyundai have some history in the sport but neither can be qualified as a great name. Considering the preparation VW is taking, they are very likely to do well. Their lead driver Sebastien Ogier showed his incredible talent by actually winning a stage this month in his S2000 Skoda and is more than ready to return to full flight WRC action. Then came the announcement that Latvala is also joining the Germans. The Ogier/Latvala line-up sounds truly menacing indeed. These two are perhaps the two fastest drivers in the world. On the other hand, their consistency is a point of concern. It is unclear at the moment who Citroen will draft to replace Loeb but Sordo seems a likely candidate. Should this happen they will have the most consistent line-up. Both Hirvonen and Sordo are very quick and seldom make mistakes. It will thus bring a battle of contrasting styles, raw speed versus consistency, who will win that in the end? As you can see our thoughts are already drifting towards a new season, with new stories and new drama’s. But… there is still one rally to go this year. As there is only one empty factory seat at the moment, many will want to impress Citroen team boss Yves Matton. Like we said, Sordo is an option, but Solberg is out of a drive next year too. Young guns Ostberg, Novikov and Tanak have shown tremendous potential this year and are looking to move on up. In the end, the championship is bigger than any team and although it is a terrible shame to see Ford go, life goes on, as does the WRC. In full effect. Enjoy reading! Steven van Veenendaal Editor
In this month’s issue... Rally Italia Rally de Sardegna France-Alsace
New WRC timing partner
- 10 Years, 9 Titles
- Surviving Sardinia
- Stage one is out
Image: Citroen racing
Who made it? Publisher: Rally-eMag Words: Steven van Veenendaal, Harry van Veenendaal. Photography: Steven van Veenendaal, Harry van Veenendaal, Jan Seinen.
Who we thank!
How to reach us?
Logo design: Minse Blom
PR Photography from: Ford WRT, M-Sport, Citroen Racing, Michelin Racing, Mini Team Motorsport Italia, Hyundai Pers.
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Rallye de France Alsace / Overview
Rallye de France Alsace
Based in: Haguenau Date: 04-07/10/2012 Number of stages: 22 Shortest stage: Strasbourg – 3.63 km Longest stage: Pays d’Ormont – 43.55 km Total stage distance: 405 km Surface: Asphalt
Image: Michelin Media Event
Rallye de France Alsace / Rally review 4/23
10 Years, 9 Titles T
wo years ago Sebastien Loebclaimed his seventh successive WRC title in his home rally of France. The odds were on the table for him to repeat that feat this year. This promise of a ninth title for the Frenchman, coupled with the fact this might be his last appearance in France, led to immense crowds flocking to the stages.
205 GTi Loeb was destined for a life on four wheels.
It is clear that Loeb is a hero in France. When walking through Paris on an average day one cannot avoid the numerous billboards and other advertisements featuring images of the champion. His popularity was also very visible during the Rally de France. Massive crowds packed the service area and lined the stages With three rounds remaining in the throughout the event. Special stage championship the only rival left able 12 even had to be cancelled due to pass Loeb was his very own team the excessive number of spectamate Mikko Hirvonen. Beating the tors. They all came to witness Loeb Fin would grant the Frenchman the for perhaps the last time in his natitle. On an important side note, tive rally. Loeb will start four or five Citroen was also in pole position events next year and it is still unclear to clinch the manufacturer title in whether or not he will participate in France. All ingredients seemed to be France. Not shy of any chauvinistic in place for some excellent French feelings, the French also came to rallying cuisine. watch their hero claim his unprecedented ninth world rally title. The Rally de France moved from Corsica to the Alsace a few years Meanwhile in the Ford camp, alago, to bring the rally to mainland though unable to prevent Loeb France, but also to move it closer to from taking the driverâ€™s title, MalSebastien Loebâ€™s childhood neighcom Wilson and co were cooking borhood. Loeb was born and raised up devious plans to at least prevent in Haguenau and drove his first him from taking the win. In Gerkilometers in the area. At a young many Jari Matti Latvala had shown age Loeb was a prolific turner and his tremendous improvement on according to his own records was sealed surfaces and was in contenfiddling with scooters and cars while tion until sudden rainfall hindered his friends were out chasing the his progress. On a confidence high French Mademoiselles. Tuning his after winning Wales Rally GB the Fin own Renault 5 Turbo and Peugeot came to France to prove a point.
Everybody wants a piece of Loeb Image: Citroen Racing
The cars completed SS12 at road speed due the excessive number of spectators. Image: Ford WRT
Rallye de France Alsace / Rally review 5/23
Finally a moment of quiet for the champ.
Image: Citroen Racing
The goal was to beat Loeb before his semi-retirement. On the opening day Latvala was very much on the pace and although Loeb took the lead, Latvala was not far behind and managed to beat Loeb on various stages. Petter Solberg was not far behind in third, Ford had obviously decreased the gap to Citroen on asphalt.
Latvala brought the fight to Loeb. Image: Ford WRT
mistake made him conclude ‘I’m not a tarmac driver yet.’
Latvala’s mistake was another great example of why Loeb is such a phenomenon. All in all the off cost Latvala no more the 15 or 20 seconds, which increased Loeb’s lead to about 35 seconds. We have learned throughout the years, that Loeb with a lead off over half a minute is an unshakeable vestige. The turnaround came on the second day. Things went wrong for Solberg On so many rallies in the past, people have been on the pace with Loeb earon the first stage of the day. With the helicopter of Sport + France hoverly on. But while others make small mistakes like this, Loeb rarely ever does. ing above him broadcasting live video, Solberg slid of into the vineyards. Sure, he has crashed out a couple of times, but in general, the consistency Assuming that the road would continue at the other side, Solberg kept the with which he drives is unmatched. At a pace very few can even approach, car going rampaging through the grapes. To his misfortune he than crossed Loeb always seems to have reserve left, preventing him from making those the stage again to go straight through into some more vineyards at the other small mistakes. side. Still not a big problem. The powerline he encountered next, was a big problem. The impact actually knocked the pole over, causing some spectac- It was no surprise than, that at the end of it all, it was once again Loeb ular short circuits and smashing a tree. The video of the event was available spraying the champagne. A couple of nasty rain showers on the final day on YouTube minutes after and soon went viral. (Click here if you have not made it a bit more tricky, but Loeb remained unfazed. In characteristic seen it yet!) Solberg was able to restart under Rally 2 rules the next day but fashion Loeb brought his lead home save. Latvala was allowed to inch closwas immediately out of contention. er, but never close enough to become a threat. Loeb took the title in style by winning his 75th WRC rally in front of a euphoric home crowd. Just to reOn the very next stage Latvala hit trouble too. ‘When I hit the brakes, I confirm his dominance of the series, we would like to mention that in 2001 suddenly realized the road was damp and I locked up the wheels. The next Loeb was still racing around in a Citroen Saxo S1600, clinching the JWRC right corner was quite slow and I went wide. After that there was a ditch, title. I was not until 2003 before he completed his first full season in a WRC which we slid through. There was not a lot of damage but there was a lot of car. He finished second in the championship that year, a single point bemud on the tires after that which made it difficult to proceed.’ This minute hind champion Petter Solberg.
Rallye de France Alsace / Rally review
The following year he took his first championship, never to be beaten again. And so we reach the end of an era. Loeb will not be doing a full championship again next year, clearing the way for others. Some argue that Loebâ€™s dominance has not been good for the WRC, it is often compared to Schumacher dominating F1, taking away the excitement. All we can say is that not for one moment has it ever been dull to watch the master at work and it has been an honor to have witnessed his claim for greatness. So were there no other competitors? Well of course there were. Loebâ€™s remarkable achievement deserves all credit and attention, but there were some notable other performances as well. Behind Latvala, Mikko Hirvonen had a solid rally to finish third, in front of (possible future team mate?) Thierry Neuville. The young Belgian put in a great performance. He was challenging Dani Sordo for fourth when co-driver Nicolas Gilsoul made a check-in mistake on the second day. The fault caused a thirty second penalty dropping them back to sixth. Not to be undaunted by this setback Neuville put the pedal to the metal to rejoin a big battle for fourth, with Mads Ostberg sandwiched in fifth. The battle went on to the very final stages until Sordo hit trouble. The power steering on his Mini gave up forcing Sordo to retire. In the end Ostberg was no match for the charging Neuville who regained that fourth spot and showed that he has gone through a very steep learning curve this year, no able to combine speed and consistency.
Ostberg once again finished in the top five.
Image: Citroen Racing
Neuville battled hard to finish fourth.
Image: Michelin Media Event
Power steering problems ended Sordoâ€™s rally.
Rallye de France Alsace / Final result
Image: Michelin Media Event
Final result 1. Loeb-Elena Citroen DS3 WRC 3.32.53,0 2. Latvala-Anttila Ford Fiesta WRC +15,5 3. Hirvonen-Lehtinen Citroen DS3 WRC +44,1 4. Neuville-Gilsoul Citroen DS3 WRC +1.07,3 5. Ostberg-Andersson Ford Fiesta WRC +1.16,4 6. Tanak-Sikk Ford Fiesta WRC +2.27,6 7. Novikov-Minor Ford Fiesta WRC +5.51,6 8. Atkinson-MacNeall Mini John Cooper Works WRC +6.42,4 9. Prokop-Hruza Ford Fiesta WRC +8.46,8 10. Chardonnet-dl Haye Citroen DS3 WRC +8.59,7
Rallye de France Alsace / Standings
Image: Citroen Racing
Championship standings 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10.
Sebastien Loeb Mikko Hirvonen Jari-Matti Latvala Mads Ostberg Petter Solberg Evgeny Novikov Thierry Neuville Martin Prokop Ott Tanak Dani Sordo
Manufacturer standings Citroën DS3 WRC Citroën DS3 WRC Ford Fiesta WRC Ford Fiesta WRC Ford Fiesta WRC Ford Fiesta WRC Citroën DS3 WRC Ford Fiesta WRC Ford Fiesta WRC Mini John Cooper Works WRC
244 points 173 points 131 points 125 points 119 points 69 points 52 points 42 points 37 points 31 points
1. Citroën Total World Rally Team 388 points 2. Ford World Rally Team 259 points 3. M-Sport Ford World Rally Team 137 points 4. Citroën Junior World Rally Team 72 points 5. Adapta World Rally Team 71 points 6. Qatar World Rally Team 63 points 7. MINI WRC Team 26 points 8. Brazil World Rally Team 20 points
Rallye de France Alsace / Special Stage
Special Stage Haguenau - 5.74 km
lthough only part of the WRC since 2010, the Rallye de France-Alsace has a long history. The roads around the Alsace have been used for many decades dating back to the pre-WRC days when the infamous Tulip Rally visited the area. We can recall the great stories of that era, but we will save those for another time. This year’s rally was all about Sebastien Loeb, so we pick the stage that was all about him as wel, Haguenau.
Severine’s (Loeb’s wive) company ‘Loeb Events’ provided a very appropriate sponsor for the stage. Business was booming on this rally. To cope with the large number of visitors, Loeb Events deployed eight busses and two helicopters to transport the fans from one stage to another.
Image: Citroen Racing
In itself, the stage is not very spectacular. It is a short 5 km blast through the town of Haguenau, the roads are lined with big plastic blocks and stone sidewalks. No one can really make the difference here. But all that does not matter. The stage is a tribute to Loeb and as this is his final full WRC season it is fitting we discuss it .
The Germanic name of the town shows the signs of the turbulent history of the region. Located on the border region of Germany and France, the Alsace has been under rule of many different administrations. Currently though, one king reigns supreme, King Loeb. Motor sports are quite popular in
France, but come nowhere near the likes of football etc. Yet Loeb has won the title ‘Sportsman of the year’ twice, in 2007 and 2009. In that second year he was even knighted in the Legion d’honneur.
Rallye de France Alsace / Special Stage
The fact that he could win these accolades is also due to him as Loeb (and his success) has made rallying a very popular sport France. Live broadcasting of almost all stages, seems unlikely to have ever happened in a Loebless world. So the logical step was for the FIA to pay some tribute to the man too. The fact that the rally, and this stage in particular are part of the WRC says a lot about the status of Loeb. The man hales from Haguenau which shows in the massive amount of local support. Usually just over thirty thousand people live in this town in the eastern tip of France. This number multiplies many times when the stage is on. Run twice on the final Sunday of the rally, the town comes to a complete stand still. If you try to reach the stage, or any part of the town for that matter, you better be there early, very early. All access roads to Haguenau are completely blocked hours before the start of the stage. Two years ago we did not even try to get to stage, we wanted to pass the town, this too, was impossible. No greater tribute can be paid than to have your very own stage. It is of course nowhere officially mentioned that the stage is a tribute to Loeb, but when you are there, you know. The atmosphere is amazing with thousands of people coming to cheer one man only. Many old friends and family of Loeb still live in the town or region making him feel right at home. The energy from all the other fans can almost be felt. Great then, that Loeb took the title here as well. For the final podium ceremony everybody had to make the trip back to Strabourg, which many did. The Zenith arena was filled to the brim to celebrate yet more French WRC success.
Before heading back to Strasbourg, Loeb and Elena celebrated at the Haguenau town hall.
Image: Citroen Racing
Rallye de France Alsace / Who’s hot? 11/23
Who’s hot? Sport+ French television broadcaster, providing live coverage of nearly all stages. section we award good and I nbadthisissues of the event. Usually
The camera crews all knew we look at the achievements of the their job. So drivers. But every now and then we these pictures also look at other aspects. In France looked good. there is obviously one very hot isBut obviously, sue and that is Sebastien Loeb. You unlike a Forcan read all about it in all the other mula 1 circuit, articles in this issue of Rally-eMag. you can’t cover So for the HOT issue we venture into a rally special other regions. In this case it is broad- stage with camcaster Sport+. They did an absolutely era’s covering top job by covering almost all special all interesting stages of the rally. French television spots. Helicopviewers could see it all on their telters! That is the evision sets, that is if their set was obvious choice. equipped with a special decoder. So they did However a entrepreneurial website that at Sport+ thought that more people should be The helicopable to watch the action. So with the ter crews were help of the social media everyone in also very well the whole world could see the excel- prepared for lent work of Sport+. This was truly their job. And global coverage by private initiative. followed the A very good example for the new first rally crews everywhere. Look a promoters, this is the way it should bit more closely at the pictures we be done! selected for this issue. The ‘eye in How was it done then? Every stage the sky’ is omnipresent. But this was had one or two fixed camera’s situnot all. Every car carried an on-board ated in good locations (at a jump, camera connected to the broadcastat intersections, in hairpins, in viling center. In that center there was a lages, you name it they were there!) director who switched between the
different camera’s in such a way that you could excellently follow the cars. If there were more cars on the track split screens gave you an idea of the progress of others. Nothing beats being at the stages and hearing the noise feeling the wind (and rain!) and smelling the smells, but watch
ing a television broadcast is certainly second best. Minutes after Petter Solbergs off, the crash was on all social media all due to the excellent coverage by Sport+ The Eye in the Sky was following the drivers on almost every stage providing fans throughout the wordl live footage of the thrilling event. Image: Citroen Racing
Rallye de France Alsace / Who’s Not?
Who’s not? MINI World Rally Team MINI John Cooper Work WRC
In 2011 MINI returned to the WRC with lofty dreams of repeating those epic wins of the 60’s.
during U nfortunately the rally we had to
pick MINI as the not so hot of France. A few days later our choice proved to be more than relevant. But let’s start with the iconic brand. In April 2011 we were present in Oxford as the Mini World Rallyteam was officially launched. Everything looked rosy. David Richard’s Prodrive built the car and MINI brand owner BMW the engine. Both were happy with it. A month later we saw the cars in action. Both Dani Sordo and Kris Meeke showed the car definitely had potential. We all know what happened afterwards. At the end of 2011 BMW was not as happy anymore. They found a very strange construction with the WRC Team Mini Portugal as the official representative of the brand. Prodrive was sidelined as team organizer. The Banbury outfit however kept responsibility for the
development of the car. This actually meant that Motorsport Italia (who ran the WRC Team MINI Portugal) had to rent the cars from Prodrive. Development of the car was done in Banbury. This all was done because something had gone wrong in the relationship between Banbury and Munich. No one made any official announcement about the problems but it looks these problems come from a cultural difference between the topmanagers of the two companies. Add to that the fact that BMW is not a real fan of rallying. They prefer other sports where it is easier to have a nice hospitality unit. When the project was thrown into their lap for a relatively limited amount of money they were happy. David Richards at the other hand has not been able to find the necessary funding. The iconic MINI brand was not enough.
Despite some quick times Kris Meeke was the first to suffer from MINI’s lackluster commitment to the WRC. Meeke only saw competition action in 2011 as budget restrictions prevented him from entering in 2012. Dani Sordo faired better, challenged for wins and landed two podiums. All this was not enough, his program for 2012 was cut short too. Images: Harry van Veenendaal
Rally Italia Sardegna / Overview
Rally Italia Sardegna
Based in: Olbia Date: 18-21/10/2012 Number of stages: 16 Shortest stage: Gallura â€“ 8.24 km Longest stage: Monte Lerno â€“ 29.68 km Total stage distance: 306.4 km Surface: Gravel Image: Citroen Racing
Rally Italia Sardegna / Rally review 14/23
Surviving Sardinia T he beautiful Mediterranean island of Sardinia played host to the penultimate round of the WRC, the Rally Italia Sardegna. With the most important championships already decided the top drivers had a ‘carte blanche’ to fight for the overall victory from the word go. This proved to be a great set-up for a spectacular event.
quarters of a minute on the first two stages. Loeb was the main beneficiary taking the lead just in front of teammate Mikko Hirvonen, who won the second stage to stay within just 1.1 seconds of Loeb.
The drama reached new heights on the second day of the rally, as the first stage claimed the first major victim in Sebastien Loeb. He went off causing some confusing for other Ford’s decision to withdraw from the drivers. Ogier “I lost a bit the conchampionship in 2013 came just pri- centration, as I saw Loeb off the or to the start of the rally and put an road, you don’t see that very often even greater pressure on Latvala and so I was a bit shocked!” Thierry Solberg to provide the team with a Neuville also hit trouble on the first good farewell song. Latvala accepted stage of the day when he made a the challenge and set fastest time on mistake and rolled his DS3. As there the qualifying stage granting him were not a lot of spectators around the right to select his starting posihe and co-driver Nicolas Gilsoul had tion for the opening leg first. The to put the car back on its wheels opening leg consisted of a mere two themselves. This cost them quite stages, run at the end of the aftersome time but even worse was that noon and early evening. Latvala took in the process Neuvill burned his a gamble by opting to start first. The hand. This meant he had to proceed idea was that he might lose some with two injured hands, as he had time on the first run through the already injured his other hand (left) Terranova stage cleaning the stage, on the previous rally in France. The but then gain time on the second burns eventually caught him out, as run as it would be run with the sun the blisters got too bad for him to setting. continue the rally. The gamble did not pay off as he lost more time then expected on the first stage and hit trouble on the next when he hit a rock and ‘broke’ his wheel. This caused a slow puncture and Latvala dropped almost three
Mikko was fast on the openening stages, then took the lead and never looked back. Image: Citroen Racing
After a good start it wasn’t to be Latvala’s rally.
Image: Jan Seinen
Rally Italia Sardegna / Rally review 15/23
Image: M -Sport
The first of the Ford youngsters, Novikov was a delighted second.
Through all the hardship Hirvonen took advantage to storm into the lead with a nice 15 second margin over nearest rival Petter Solberg. At the final stage of the morning all drivers had difficulties with tire wear, Mads Ostberg ran on the canvas of his front left tire and complained there was another, more serious problem. At the end of the day he was effectively running with two wheel drive. Sebastien Ogier took advantage of the tire wear of the WRC’s and amazingly won the fifth stage of the rally, in his Skoda Fabia S2000! The S2000 cars use the same tires as the WRC’s, which have a lot more power and therefore have more wheelspin. This wears the tires much harder giving the less powerfull S2000 a slight advantage. Still, winning a stage was an incredible feat and showed that Ogier will be a force to be reckoned with next year when he will drive the VW Polo WRC in its maiden season. At the end of the day, Ogier was up to fourth overall.
And the second, Tanak took his first podium in third.
Although there were still many kilometres to go, the rally was effectively over after the first full day. Mikko Hirvonen showed why Citroen is relying on him as their first driver for next season. Where his rivals faltered, he kept his cool, stayed out of trouble and seemingly effortlessly built a sizeable lead. Behind him Evgeny Novikov and Ott Tanak completed the top three. As both were obviously very content with their positions, the entire top three of the event felt no need to push any further and was happy to just get to the finish.
On the final two days Mads Ostberg managed to claw his way back up to fourth, ahead of the sensationally fifth placed Sebastien Ogier. It was Ogier who put up the most interesting fight throughout the rally as he successfully defended his position from Chris Atkinson in the Mini WRC. In seventh Andreas Mikkelsen completed the party for Volkswagen with the second The drama of the day was far from over though. In the penultimate WRC S2000 car well inside the top ten. German dominance seems to be looming rally for the official Ford team, the Blue Ovals had a good chance of winning on the horizon if this was anything to go by. with the early exit of favorite Loeb. Latvala however tried to make up the time lost on the opening stages Thursday evening a bit too hard. He went Novikov eventually finished second, which was his second ever podium off the road, damaged his car and was unable to continue. This concluded finish while third for Tanak was the first time he ever managed to finish on a very disappointing rally for the Fin, which was perhaps even more disapthe podium. But in the end no one really threatened Hirvonen on his way pointing for team boss Malcolm Wilson. The Cumbrian had to take yet to his first win in a Citroen. After being disqualified from the win earlier another devastating blow when Petter Solberg crashed out of second posithis year in Portugal, Mikko was delighted, as was his team boss Yves Mattion too. Petter hit a rock on the penultimate stage of the day which broke ton “This is great for Mikko and shows why we have so much confidence in his steering. Solberg was quoted “Very disappointing, very sad for Malcolm him. This first win will pave the way for him to continue winning next year.” at Ford that I made a mistake. I always want to do my best.” The guilt clearly Behind Hirvonen there were some more happy faces from the second tier showed as Solberg was all too aware of the difficult position the team finds Ford teams. itself in and the opportunity he squandered in Sardinia.
Rally Italia Sardegna / Final results
Final result 1. Hirvonen-Lehtinen Citroen DS3 WRC 3.23.54,9 2. Novikov-Minor Ford Fiesta WRC +27,8 3. Tanak-Sikk Ford Fiesta WRC +28,7 4. Ostberg-Andersson Ford Fiesta WRC +1.10,6 5. Ogier-Ingrassia Skoda Fabia S2000 +1.29,5 6. Atkinson-Prevot Mini John Cooper Works WRC +3.37,0 7. Mikkelsen-Floene Skoda Fabia S2000 +4.11,9 8. Prokop-Hruza Ford Fiesta WRC +6.00,4 9. Solberg-Patterson Ford Fiesta WRC +6.58,9 10. Pedersoli- Romano Citroen DS3 WRC +9.32,1
Rally Italia Sardegna / Standings
Image: Michelin Media Event
Championship standings 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10.
Sebastien Loeb Mikko Hirvonen Mads Ostberg Jari-Matti Latvala Petter Solberg Evgeny Novikov Thierry Neuville Ott Tanak Martin Prokop Sebastien Ogier
Manufacturer standings Citroën DS3 Citroën DS3 Ford Fiesta Ford Fiesta Ford Fiesta Ford Fiesta Citroën DS3 Ford Fiesta Ford Fiesta Skoda Fabia
WRC WRC WRC WRC WRC WRC WRC WRC WRC S2000
244 points 198 points 137 points 133 points 124 points 87 points 53 points 52 points 46 points 41 points
1. Citroën Total World Rally Team 413 points 2. Ford World Rally Team 281 points 3. M-Sport Ford World Rally Team 170 points 4. Citroën Junior World Rally Team 72 points 5. Adapta World Rally Team 71 points 6. Qatar World Rally Team 71 points 7. MINI WRC Team 26 points 8. Brazil World Rally Team 20 points
Rally Italia Sardegna / Special Stage
Special Stage Monte Lerno - 29.68 km
early all special stages in Sardinia qualify for this section. But our pick this time is the almost thirty km long Monte Lerno stage. Stage 3 and 8 in this year’s edition of the Rally d’Italia Sardegna. For the drama this year of course, but also if you check news on this rally, the Monte Lerno stage (often wrongly called Monte Lermo) seems to be the most popular one, specially if you check YouTube. What is so special then about Monte Lerno? What makes it stand out in relation to the other stages? They all share their character of being rough but fast stages. They are nowhere near (for example) Finland. The smooth gravel stages in Northern Europe are entirely different from the terrain the drivers find in Sardinia. On the other hand they are also different from the infamously rough terrain WRC competitors find in Greece or formerly found in Cyprus, where the going was really tough but at the same time (relatively) slow. But Monte Lerno has one important feature that others lack and that’s Micky’s jump. This is not just a jump but it sits in the league of the Yellow House jump in Finland’s Ouninpohja and Gina in the Panzerplatte stage of Rally Germany. Both stages have already been featured in Rally-eMag. It was Micky Biasion who gave his name to the jump. This was in the 80ies of last century when the stage was part of the Costa Smeralda Rally then a European Rally championship qualifier. It is so poular because unlike other jumps it is situated in open terrain with enough space for enormous crowds. From a driver’s point of view it is a difficult jump. Lots of drivers can tell you all about it. The arrival speed is very high and the actual jump is on a fairly wide open road. It is situated in a slight left hand corner and followed by a straight and again by an open left hand corner. It is essential you set the car in the proper way just before the jump as landing will take place at the end of the long left hand corner. Lots of drivers did not make it and ended up in the ditch on the left hand side. Others made it further but there was still quite some unbalance in the car then which threw them of the track in the next corner. This time on the right hand side. But the biggest feature is the shear height of the cars when they are thrown over the jump. This resulted in an absolute abundance of photo’s and videos of this spot.
Idea for next year, somebody please invite either Kris Kross, House of Pain or Van Halen to perform live during the stage... Jump! Images: Jan Seinen & M-Sport
Image: M -Sport
Image: M -Sport
Rally Italia Sardegna / Special Stage
This year Monte Lerno played a decisive roll in the proceedings of the Rally d’Italia. It was when frontrunner Sebastien Loeb mad a (very rare) mistake. This is the way he explained it: ‘Daniel told me from his notes it was Good Right 130 into Left 130+’. This was the same note as last year. But this year there was a rock on the inside of the corner. Obviously it should therefore not have been a ‘130+’. This was all due to a simple example of a mistake when making notes. We were distracted by a flat tire we experienced during recce. We therefore took the corner at a slow speed, looking for a space to change the tire. At this kind of speed we didn’t notice the rock. At rally speed however we did see the rock but I couldn’t correct the way we went into the corner anymore. The car started breaking out and the front of the car was thrown into some stones lining the road. After a spin we came back onto the road but apart from all kinds of loose parts of the car flinging around me I also felt the steering instantly becoming hard. Later on we found out al liquid from the power steering was gone. Immediate repairs were not possible . Right: Paulo Nobre gets his landing all wrong on ‘Mickey’s jump’ and damages his radiator in the process. It would lead to his eventual retirement due to an overheating engine. Images: Jan Seinen.
Below: Mikko Hirvonen took it relatively easy over the big jump, no need to push for the Fin, although big jumps could be used to describe his natural habitat. Image: Citroen Racing.
Rally Italia Sardegna / Who’s hot?
Mikko Hirvonen Citroen DS3 WRC Citroen Total World Rally Team
Sebastien Ogier Skoda Fabia S2000 Volkswagen Motorsport
This time our hot award goes to two people we expect to play a major role in next year’s championship. In Sardinia they showed us why we have these high expectations.
Mikko You already guessed it the two ‘hopes for the immediate future’ are Mikko Hirvonen and Sebastien Ogier. Mikko was specially awarded for his proverbial coolness. Where major top runners faltered (see our NOT section of Hot or Not). He kept his usual cool. One could say, well it was easy for him to win, all the other top drivers had gone. That may be true but as we said Mikko kept his cool. He kept the competition at a safe distance and drove as fast as he needed to keep them away and to keep his concentration. The way of a true champion. That brings us to our prediction that he is going to be a front runner in next year’s championship. He is fast, ok maybe not as fast as others but he is also reliable and he knows when to attack (and when not to). Next year he will be in one of the best cars and his greatest rival of all time, Sebastien Loeb, will not compete for a tenth championship. Image: Jan Seinen
Seb The coming years we, as WRC journalists will have an easy job. We can use our stories of the last few years and we hardly have to change the names. I don’t know how many times we have written headlines with the name Seb or Sebastien but we expect to continue doing that in the future. King Loeb is seeking other challenges but crown prince Ogier is near. He had a very difficult year this year. He had a car that could not match the pace of the hot shots. Still he kept a fighting spirit. This all culminated in stage five of Rally Sardinia. Never mind his modest car (in comparison to the fully fledged WRC’s) he produced a scratch. Here you could see his fighting spirit. He was fastest and he was showing it. “I belong here” he seemed to think. And: “More of this next year.” No one knows anything about the performance of his new weapon, the VW Polo WRC yet, but given the preparation that VW organized, we are very confident that the Polo will deliver. Image: Jan Seinen
Rally Italia Sardegna / Who’s not? 21/23
Who’s not? Ford Ford Fiesta WRC
enormous regret W ebutstateFordit with was not HOT during
ately tried to keep his star driver. But with that it was not over yet. From Rally Sardinia. It began just prior to a sporting point of view, Sardinia the event. From Cologne came the was not the success the whole Ford message “Ford withdraws as title team hoped for. Latvala gambled sponsor from the WRC team.” If we (wrongly) with his starting position. look at the events that happened not He hoped the second running of long after this announcement we can the opening stage of the rally would understand this, but at that moment bring him extra seconds, because in the message came out of the blue. the dark the solid dust would form Now that we know that Ford has to an invisible wall. He also hoped not close down factories where thouto lose not more than 10 seconds on sands of people lose their jobs we the first running. It was fifteen and can understand their decision. Not in the second running he lost almost so much that it can help these peoeverything due to an off that cost ple. The budget for the WRC is pea- him a tire and 27 seconds. He had nuts compared to the costs of a factory, but from a PR point of view the decision can be understood. Citroen mother company PSA was faced with the same problem but was saved by the bell because of the (heavy) commitment of Abu Dhabi. Still it is a very bad sign for rally sport. Ford has been involved in WRC ‘forever’ and has been one of the driving powers of the whole competition. Malcolm Wilson was very fast in explaining he would continue as a private team and that there was a (less high profile) commitment of Ford to continue technical participation with Msport. Still it was no surprise that Jari Matti Latvala finally decided what everyone already seemed to know: he is going to Volkswagen. A blow for Malcolm Wilson as he desper-
to start all over again facing a more than 40 second gap between him and Sebastien Loeb. Though on the famous Monte Lerno stage, where Hirvonen and teammate Solberg outpaced him, he saw his biggest opponent Loeb on the side of the road with (as later was declared) a broken steering. Relieved of that burden on his shoulder he could start his re descent of the leaderboard, only to find himself back on that wrong side of the road on the next stage. “I went off at a lefthander but could restart again quite rapidly, only my windscreen was covered in foliage I
picked up form the vegetation on the side of the road. I got distracted and forgot to break for the next corner…” Not much later Solberg also went off. This definitely made the whole week preceding Sardinia a NOT week for the team. The Solberg Latvala one/two in the powerstage was not enough to repair that feeling.
The dark clouds of the financial crisis are looming over Ford forcing their withdrawal from the WRC. Image: Jan Seinen
Rally-eMag / News 22/23
Short Message Service New Timekeeper for WRC never stops to surprise us. T heJustFIAbefore the Rally of Spain a
back to that. But finally at the end of September some good news came press release unintentionally came from the WMSC meeting in Paris. into the open. A new timing and A promoter had been found. And a safety tracking service would start seemingly good one! Well the official work in the 2013 FIA WRC. Not very statement did not say there actually much later the FIA conformed this was a contract with the promoter, message. Wait a minute ‘a timing but the FIA was allowed to continue and safety tracking service’? But negotiations with the promoter. So what about Simon de Banke’s Stage everyone in the WRC world kept One Technology? Well the answer is his or her breath to see if this would clear. The FIA put the contract out to finally bring the WRC back on track. tender and S1 Tec lost the contract. You would expect the FIA to put all In Spain they will perform timing its efforts in bringing these negotiaand tracking duties for the last time. tions to a good end. In the normal business world it is a normal situation when a company hires another company to perform certain tasks that they make up a contract. At the end of the contract you either negotiate the contract or you put the contract out to tender. Most of the times this is done to find out if you still have a good deal. So there is nothing strange about the FIA doing this. Stage 1 has been on the job for ten years now so who knows if there are other (better, less expensive?) players on the market. So far, so good. But timing is, to put it very mildly, a bit strange. WRC is at the end of, possibly, it’s worst year ever. Since the beginning of this year bad news kept on following bad news. In the end of year issue of Rally eMag we will certainly come
Then the news comes of a new timing and safety tracking service. Obviously an extremely important part of WRC events we don’t deny that, but in the big picture it is a detail an important one, but still. So why put your efforts in this field specially as this seems to be one of the few things in WRC that run smoothly and to everybody’s liking. Stage 1 Technology was the first to jump up in times of peril at the beginning of this year and they said: “We see about contract later but we will continue our work for the WRC.” On their way to save Monte Carlo they were stopped by legal procedures, from their former employer North One Sport but starting from Sweden they were on the job again. Business as usual. The only rally they did not
do was Monte Carlo and the poor organizers had to organize that themselves, only days before their event was due to start. They cannot be held responsible for the fact they did not succeed completely. Time was simply to short and the job to complicated. And now just before the last rally in the season a new company has to start the job. Sistema’s integrales de Télécomunicación (SIT), a Madrid based company has a wide knowledge of sports technology but they don’t seem to have world wide experience as most of their achievements have been in Spain. Obviously we give them the benefit of the doubt and we hope, for the sports, they will deliver and succeed. FIA will have interrogated them thoroughly, and SIT has been able to
Image: Jan Seinen
convince them. Still we feel it would have been better to wait a little bit with this ‘detail’ and to first cover the complete picture. How far, for example, are the negotiations with Red Bull cs. Is there a contract, has live television been organized? We don’t know it yet. We would have preferred an answer to these questions. Now we only got more questions and uncertainties.
Next issue early December covering: RallyRacc-Rally de Espana
Image: Citroen Racing Words: Steven van Veenendaal, Harry van Veenendaal Images: Steven van Veenendaal, Harry van Veenendaal, Jan Seinen & PR (credited where used) Copyright: Rally-eMag; Please drop your comments at email@example.com!