There have been some behind the scenes upsets in WRC but it's business as usual on the podium
After its winter of discontent, the World Rally Championship breathed a sigh of relief as it leapt back into action on the stages of the 2012 Rallye Monte Carlo. The shock collapse of the series' promoter, North One Sport, was perfectly offset by the predictability of the result: eight-time World Champion Sebastien Loeb collected his sixth career Monte Carlo victory.
Latvala lost his early lead after a crash
The early stages of the rally fooled us all into believing that the ever dominant Frenchman mightn't have it all his own way, however. The perennially promising Jari-Matti Latvala raised a few eyebrows by leading the event in his Ford Fiesta RS WRC by no fewer than 30 seconds after three stages. An icy corner, a missed pacenote and a six-foot wall put the Finn out of the lead and, with no restarts permitted, out of the rally.
So Loeb inherited the number one position, eventually finishing 2min 45.5secs ahead of Mini World Rally Team lead driver Dani Sordo, with three extra bonus points to his name having also won the Power Stage.
"I am happy to win a rally that means a lot to me," said Loeb. "It's a big gap to second, but I wouldn't say that this was an easy win. We had to deal with all sorts of conditions and my lead was largely built on better tyre choices."
If Loeb's victory was foreseen by all and Latvala's exit frustrating, the final standings were littered with reasons to smile; Sordo's third podium for Mini in seven rallies, Petter Solberg's third position for the Ford World Rally Team on his return to a factory squad, Mikko Hirvonen's trio of fastest stage times following his defection to Citroen and, perhaps above all, 49-year-old WRC-returnee Francois Delecour showing a host of next generation rally winners how it's done by finishing a fine sixth overall.
For more Monte Carlo analysis check back later on today as PH rides shotgun with Citroen's new team boss
The significant result is a Mini in second - maybe now there'll be some more budget from BMW.
rwindmill23 Jan 2012
It doesnt really matter how you dress it up, it was a poor event. When i heard the event was to be held over 5 days, for a soplit second i was hopeful that at last the Monte would be the challenge that it used to be in the golden days. But that hope was dashed when the announcer said that there were only 18 stages. 18 stages over 5 days!?!?!??!, how long before we are down to one stage a day? The result was as predicatble as ever. I dont take anything away from Seb, he is a great driver, but even he has got to be getting bored with the whole thing by now. Surely he wants a challenge!?!?! He will undoubtably go down in the history book as one of the worlds greatest rally drivers, but his legacy will be very open to critical analysis. Sure 8 world chamipionships, but at a time when there was no one else to challenge him and always with the same manufacturer. Come on Seb, test yourself and try something new.
Stew200023 Jan 2012
It's an interesting indication of what the year will be like.
Delecour - just hats off for this man. Some 2nd and 3rd stage times, getting used to a new car and if you look at the 4th day results alone, it's a very interesting comparsion: http://www.ewrc-results.com/leg.php?e=3363&s=2... Also it's worth mentioning that on the 5th day his retiring codriver and friend Dominique Savignoni get a gift and driving the last stage
Another star of the rally was Ogier - held 6th place overall with Fabia S2000 until his high speed crash, really showed what S2000 car is capable of when conditions are tricky.