Sebastien Ogier Wins the closest Rally in the history of the World Rally Championship in Jordan since 2007, when Marcus Gronholm beat Sebastien Loeb in New Zealand on the final stage to win the Rally by 0.3 seconds.
The young Citroen star won Rally Jordan by just 2 tenths of a second from Fords Jari-Matti Latvala. Its been an amazing week in Jordan, where do I start? – Well normally I start with day 1, But due to the logistical nightmare, caused by all sorts of problems, Day 1 was cancelled Due to the political unrest in the surrounding countries. The trucks and crews carrying all the equipment to each event had to find anther route to Jordan via boat from Italy to Israel. First the boat was late to Italy. Then one of the engines broke down, meaning it took much longer to travel across the sea. When it got there, it had to anchor up 1Km away from port due to a storm. Then the morning after, the second engine went, So it had to be towed in by tug boats. The trucks were originally expected to arrive to build the service park on Monday. They arrived 12:30am on Thursday morning. The teams had just 7 hours to do 3 days work in setting up ready for the event. Day 2 became the first day of the rally.
It started with Championship leader, and Fords Flying Fin, Mikko Hirvonen on the road first, sweeping the desert stages for the crews behind. This caused him to struggle massively on the first day, dropping masses of time, ending the day in 5th place, some 2 and a half minutes of the lead.
Second on the road was the 7 times champion Loeb. Fairing better in his road position than Hirvonen, Spending most of the day in second and third, trying to keep up with his team mate. On the final stage, tactics came into to play, and actually came to a stop in the middle part of the stage to drop time when no one else expected him to. Playing physiological games as well as road position on the others and finished the day in 2nd place 31.6 off the lead.
Latvala spent the morning in top 5, but in the afternoon he started making up time and finished the first day in 3rd. A great road position and just 1.5 behind Loeb. Petter Solberg also one to play in the road position game and slowed towards the finish to drop into 4th just 2.2 off Latvala.
But the man who didn’t slow, in fact really quite the opposite. He floored it to get as big of a lead as possible for the final day was the younger Frenchmen of Sebastien Ogier. He finished the first day with a 31.6 second lead, but would be first on the road for the final day. Further down, Henning had more bad luck, having to retire with a broken sump. Raikkonen finished 6th.
Day 3, or 2 (the last day). The final day, Ogier knew he would have to push hard to keep the others behind. That job made harder being first on the road, and did a good job of it. By mid day he still had the lead, and by 18.9 seconds from Latvala. Latvala was determined not to give up, and in mid day service still believed that he could fight for the win. Loeb was making the odd mistake and running wide in some places but still held 3rd, but some 20.7 off the lead and putting the pressure on the ford man in front.
On stage 17, the first in the afternoon loop. Mr Hollywood, Petter Solberg was doing well in 4th. But was pushing to make up as many points as possible after his problematic season so far. 12Km in, he came over a crest and spun, similar to that in Mexico, only this time went completely off the road, and came to rest on the rocks, luck not to go crashing down the 40 metre drop off at the side. This moved Hirvonen and the others behind up the table. Behind the 4th placed Hirvonen, was ex-F1 star Kimi Raikkonen in an incredible 5th place in a battle with Matthew wilson in 6th. But on Stage 19 the Kimster had a puncture and dropped time, allowing Wilson to take that 5th place.
Stage 19 was the penultimate stage. And After Pushing hard all day, setting incredibly fast stage times, and was fastest on stage 19 by 5.8 seconds, Fords Jari-Matti Latvala Finally caught up the young Ogier and moved into the lead. But only by a meer half a second. Ogier was 2nd fastest on the stage. Loeb and Hirvonen kept it safe in the afternoon loop of stages to save the tyres for the final ‘Power stage’. In hope that they can grab thoughs extra bonus points for the championship.
Rally Jordan came down to the final stage. Not only would the drivers push for the extra points but it was also the battle for the win of the rally. Being ran in reverse order. Hirvonen Came through, totally flat out, and taking the barriers with him after flying through the finish, setting a great time. His team mate was next, and had to do non other than to push as hard as possible to keep his half a second lead. He crossed the line, 0.4 slower than his team mate. The tension and pressure was on Ogier who was just 0.1 quicker in the opening split. But to take the rally win he would need to be 0.6 faster than the time set by Latvala. Loeb Completed the stage, and was 0.3 slower than Hirvonen.
All eyes were now firmly placed on Ogier. Looking very fast and bang on the limit, he comes across the line. And sets the fastest time on the power stage! But most importantly, beat Latvala by just 0.7 seconds. That was just enough to take the rally win, and beat the disappointed Latvala by a tiny 2 tenths of a second overall. It made it the closest rally ever seen. 0.2 seconds stood between 1st and 2nd place. To top it off, Ogier also got the ‘Power stage’ win and beat Hirvonen by 0.046 seconds. grabbing them all important 3 bonus points. It was the closest WRC finish ever. Taking maximum points of 28. which puts him 3rd in the drivers championship. The delighted Ogier said: “Incredible, Incredible day. I had to really push today because of the cleaning and Jari-Matti was so fast. I can’t believe that I have won, I am so happy.”
Further down the order, Matthew Wilson took 5th place, keeping his consistency this year with anther top 5 finish. ex-F1 champ Kimi Raikkonen got his best WRC finish to date in 6th, and steadily improving with each event this season. With Villagra, Al-Qassimi and Kuipers rounding out the top 9 for the WRC cars. Bernardo Sousa took his maiden win in the S2000 and finished in 10th.
Jordan Rally – Final Results
1. SEBASTIEN OGIER M 2:48:28.2 0.0 0.0
2. JARI-MATTI LATVALA M 2:48:28.4 +0.2 +0.2
3. SEBASTIEN LOEB M 2:48:55.9 +27.5 +27.7
4. MIKKO HIRVONEN M 2:51:12.9 +2:17.0 +2:44.7
5. MATTHEW WILSON 2:54:13.1 +3:00.2 +5:44.9
6. KIMI RÄIKKÖNEN M 2:54:43.1 +30.0 +6:14.9
7. FEDERICO VILLAGRA M 2:57:46.9 +3:03.8 +9:18.7
8. KHALID AL QASSIMI M 2:58:11.9 +25.0 +9:43.7
9. DENNIS KUIPERS M 3:02:55.7 +4:43.8 +14:27.5
10. BERNARDO SOUSA S 3:03:33.7 +38.0 +15:05.5