Sunday 14th November 2010, Marked the end of an Era… It would not only be the final day of the final round of the 2010 season in Wales, But It would also be the last time Rally Fans around the world, would see the current 2 litre World Rally cars blast through the worlds stage‘s.
2010 has been a season of adventure, for me especially. My season started in the thick dust clouds of Portugal, discovering the small ‘French revolution’ that are the two Sebastian’s, and celebrating by dancing on tables with Mikko singing “we’re gona live forever” (Oasis), to the Yumps and Jumps of Finland, along with the many crazed ‘Santa’s’ and the odd occasional ‘Batman’ at stage side, the fun of using global Portaloos in the dark, Dogs that apparently look like bears, Loeb’s disbelief of his gloves being auctioned off for over 900 Euros, Petter wresting TV’s Julian Porter to the floor on stage, People falling over benches in the dark, being held hostage with a bus load of clients at a Spanish restaurant. Ending in trying to climb (Successfully) back up the world’s muddiest hill, while being blown over a barrier in 70mph Gales. For me 2010 has been an amazing adventure with even more amazing people with in and around the WRC.
The 2010 season kicked off in the Snow banks of Sweden. With what appeared to be a ‘new’ Mikko Hirvonen, getting the better of the 6 times world champion, pushing him above an beyond the limit. Forcing Loeb to admit defeat, to win round 1.
Round 2 crossed over to Mexico, where as expected the Fords struggled in the high mountains and it was 1 to Loeb. Then off to the highly controversial tactics of Jordan. A change of road position was in order, so as to give Latvala a more road sweeping effect. But a mistake from Citroen in a delay of split times to Ogier, meant Latvala was 3rd & Ogier 2nd on road for day3. Sun morning Ogier was late out of service giving him a time penalty, and most importantly swapping the road position round. Ford then reacted, checked Hirvonen in early to slot him between the two, Citroen counteracted with the drastic solution of making sure that Loeb was no longer first on the road – which consisted of sacrificing an angry Ogier who ended up 8th overall. Win number 2 to Loeb.
Then it was off to Turkey where Loeb wins again, and the very Happy Privateer Mr Solberg took 2nd. But Due to an ash cloud from a volcano in Iceland, which I won’t attempt to spell the name of. The WRC crews endured a 70 hour road trip back home. Then shipped off to New Zealand, where an incredible battle of the French Seb’s and the Norwegians argument with a pole. Ended in pushing over the limit and the two Seb’s going off on the final stage. Ogier spinning in the final corner, after the most amazing come back drive ever seen from Loeb after hitting a bridge on Day 1, ending with a surprised Latvala winning. Round 6 was in the dust clouds of Portugal, where after a 3day long battle in the mountains, Ogier finally beat his multiple world champion team mate to take the first win of his career by 7.9 seconds. (see – https://danieldarrall.wordpress.com/2010/06/ for full Portugal review.)
After the mid-season break, it was a new event in Bulgaria and the first of the Black stuff, where Loeb won to lead a Citroen top 4.
Round 8 was the ‘Grand Prix’ of rallying in Finland, where on day one a leading Hirvonen entered his most favourite corner of the championship, and had the biggest crash of his career, rolling up a hill, both escaping the wreckage unhurt. Being replaced at the top of the leader board by his fellow Finnish team mate Latvala, who went on to win his home rally. Much to the delight of the Finnish crowd. The following rally was on the Tarmac of Germany where Loeb remained unbeaten on the black stuff in his C4.
Round 10, in the land off the rising sun, in Japan (Bear country). where the battle ensued between Solberg and Ogier, both fighting for the win. Solberg leading for most of the rally but thanks to a broken damper, Ogier took his second ever victory.
Round 11. France, which was moved to Loeb’s home town of Alsace. And it was one to remember. As the Frenchman claimed his 7th World title on the streets he grew up on – Where he took his first steps, drove his first car, and said his first “Errrrrrrr……..” In front of his family, friends, and fans. You could have mistaken him for being a king, his C4 acting as a pope-mobile, surrounded by crowds of hundreds of thousands. It was truly the most emotional victory of recent times.
Round 12 in Spain, where before the rally even started, 2007 F1 Champ Kimi Raikkonen rolled his C4 in Shakedown. (For full story on Kimi’s crash see –
https://danieldarrall.wordpress.com/category/wrc-analysis/) Loeb keeping the record of the C4 remaining unbeaten on Tarmac to win the event. With Solberg taking second after fighting off Citroens Dani Sordo. And with JWRC Title being wrapped up by a very emotional Aaron Burkart. The 13th and final round was Rally GB, where in the Mud, 5 drivers were in with a chance to win. Solberg, who paid out of his own pocket just to compete, drove flat out battling with the Frenchman and finishing a well deserved 2nd, and got 3rd in the Championship. With Loeb of course taking the win. Latvala came home 3rd, grabbing the points to get the runner-up place in the championship.
We now look forward to a new Era, and a new season in 2011. With the Ford Fiesta RS, Citroen DS3. And the return of the British Icon Mini. There will no doubt be many more stories and great adventures that are very unique to the spectacle of the sport that makes up, the World Rally Championship.
Photographs taken by Daniel Darrall