by clicking the arrows at the side of the page, or by using the toolbar.
by clicking anywhere on the page.
by dragging the page around when zoomed in.
by clicking anywhere on the page when zoomed in.
web sites or send emails by clicking on hyperlinks.
Email this page to a friend
Search this issue
Index - jump to page or section
Archive - view past issues
GP Week : Issue 24
>>WRCGERMANY successive times now, a record seven times for the same driver, Sebastien Loeb) but also the Junior WRC category for the fourth time running, this time with Sebastien Ogier. Their C4 WRCs finished first and F second, (Dani Sordo playing rear-gunner), winning every stage before easing their pace on the final day. Ford, on the other hand, had a dismal rally. Mikko Hirvonen was unable to match the high speed consistency of Loeb on highly changeable grip levels, while team- mate Jari-Matti Latvala had a rally which he will want to forget, with many errors through the full three day event. Ford came to Germany euphoric, with no fewer than 13 works or private Focuses competing. But they suffered badly in the world championship stakes and never so much as when they sold a car to Francois Duval’s sponsor, but still nominated him a points scoring driver for the independent Stobart VK team. These factors meant the official BP Ford Abu Dhabi personnel could not give team orders to Duval, and were mortified when the talented but traditionally rebellious Belgian denied them and their driver much needed championship points – in a car they built. The championship came back to the black stuff for the first time since Monte Carlo at the start of the season. There were two main pre-event topics: the need for Pirelli to supply alternative compound control tyres, on an event where weather predictions are usually notoriously fickle, and the extent to which control tyres would in fact slow down the cars. Tyre decisions did not centre so much on whether it would be wet or dry, more on whether soft tyres were better than hard when it was cool in the mornings. For the longer stages harder tyres were preferred by most drivers, particularly on the two 30km afternoon stages on the Saturday on military ground. And incredibly the speed of development by the Citroens and Fords seemed almost exactly to match the performance constraints offered by the single supplier tyres. Loeb stormed out of the starting blocks, revelling in the changeable surfaces on the Friday morning. Only when his team- mate Sordo surprisingly chose harder tyres that afternoon, instead of staying on OR the third year running, Citroen completely dominated Rallye Deutschland, not only winning outright (a record eight soft tyres, was Hirvonen able to match the speed of either of the Citroens. Ford were having a horrendous event. Latvala gradually speeding up after an early set-up error, while their lead driver in the Stobart team, Gigi Galli, crashed heavily and suffered a leg injury, which is expected to put him out of the sport for the rest of the year. Then on the second day Latvala went off the road when he misjudged the positioning of speed- reducing chicanes, sliding sideways into the scrub and needing help to get the car back on the road. In the afternoon Hirvonen suffered a puncture which dropped him from his secure third place, behind Duval. On the final day Duval took full advantage of the reduced pace of the leading Citroens to score four fastest times and cemented his third place, but then he broke a shock absorbers on the way to the downtown superspecial in Trier. On top of worries about urgently finding a replacement driver for Galli, this was territory that Ford’s management could not handle. There were two areas of particularly happy smiling faces at the end. At Subaru, Petter Solberg and Chris Atkinson came through with hardly any major issues. “It has been years since I have been really satisfied with the results,” said Solberg. Their drivers were conservative in their tyre choices and swapped places frequently between fifth and sixth, before Atkinson spun off the road on the Friday for a half minute, ironically just before the stage was stopped for spectator safety reasons. On the Saturday he punctured and later had launch control troubles. And at Suzuki, there were happy faces as well. Toni Gardemeister finished in the manufacturers’points while Per-Gunnar Andersson finished after losing time when suspension bolts broke when he cut a corner, and then lost boost pressure with a wastegate valve problem. Citroen have gained the tactical high ground in the manufacturers’ championship and Sebastien Loeb, of course, in the drivers’ series. One more smashed record for Loeb (no driver had won the same world championship event seven years running), one more long face for Ford. Five events are coming, three on gravel (New Zealand, in two weeks’time, Japan and Britain) and two on asphalt (Spain and Corsica). 39