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GP Week : Issue 121
Should Citroen's number two driver Sebastien Ogier have supported his team-mate and reigning World Champion Sebastien Loeb in a time of need, when road-cleaning worked strongly against Loeb – or left him hanging out to dry, as he did? The circumstances exonerated Ogier, as Loeb lost far more time on the final day relative to Mikko Hirvonen than expected and, indeed, Loeb only salvaged second place by 3.0 seconds. That was a dangerously close margin to play supporting roles effectively. Innocent verdict for Ogier. Ford meanwhile have been trying to second guess the policies in Citroen. Malcolm Wilson wondered what orders would be given to the drivers at Citroen, if roles were reversed: “It is never easy when you have two strong drivers like they have. We had a similar situation with Carlos Sainz and Colin McRae. Ogier is a very motivated individual who is definitely determined to win rallies. He is playing a different role to what Dani Sordo did at Citroen in the past. Dani always played back-up to Sebastien Loeb.” Ford meanwhile have been thinking about Hirvonen. The worrying factor about Mikko Hirvonen is that it is only on the final Power Stages where he reliably shines. If only he could also shine elsewhere, that would be perfect for the team! Hirvonen's teammate Jari-Matti Latvala said: "Mikko has been very consistent but it is only when he comes to the Power Stage he shows a spirit which he also needs to be showing elsewhere in the event. Somehow he lacks the final spirit to fight for victory. He started the season very well in Sweden. When I think about 2009 he had more spirit then.” Malcolm however was supportive of Mikko. “Coming to the final day in Greece, Mikko had an opportunity to show his true mettle. He pulled 18 seconds off Ogier in 124km on Saturday. He started Day 3 only 23 seconds behind with 65km to go. Statistically it was easily possible for Mikko to win. It could have been a big day for Mikko.” Unfortunately it was so near but so far, and Citroen won once more. Was Ogier unsporting? Lambros Athanassoulas finally came to the start line of the Acropolis Rally in his World Rally Car, but it was an effort! “I had to find a budget of 150,000 Euros. In the end we raised funds from fans on our website, on the promise their names would be on the car. By the time our car arrived we had raised 34,000 Euros, and we had sponsorship, including Jet Oil, for 40,000 Euros. We then made up the difference through family money. “ We were able to save money in various ways. I do not need to do so much recce, as we knew all the roads very well from Greek championship rallies over the years, with only two or three stages which were new to us. Mikko Hirvonen let me sit with him during Ford’s testing, in which I was able to learn a lot of ideas.” So about the website, did he get the idea from Mr PG Andersson, who raised cash from fans in order to do the Swedish? “No, not at all, we had the idea five years ago in 2006, but my brother thought at that time it wasn’t such a good idea. Better to leave the idea for really special occasion – like driving this World Rally Car!” There’s money in websites ... WRC acropolis >>