Photo courtesy www.flatovercrest.com
Two penultimate rounds were held in the world of rally this past weekend. The Rally Catalunya, the eleventh round of the World Rally Championship, held in warm, sunny Salou, Spain, and the fifth round of the Canadian Rally Championship, the Pacific Forest Rally, held in uh, cold, snowy Merritt, British Columbia.
Citroen’s Sebastien Loeb overcame a first day deficit to win the Rally Catalunya, helped by teammate Dani Sordo who “slowed down” on day two to give Loeb the lead of the rally, helping the Frenchman get the win and maximum points and get within one point of championship leader, Ford hammerin’ Finn Mikko Hirvonen. Perhaps the most notable result of the rally was former Subaru driver and 2003 WRC champion Petter Solberg, who came in fourth overall in his new Citroen C4 WRC. The result was his best finish on tarmac since 2005.
Here at home in Canada, the Subaru Canada crew of local hero Pat Richard and internet hero Alan Ockwell overcame a late penalty to win the Pacific Forest Rally in their Impreza WRX STI. Quebec driver Antoine L’Estage, driving a Mitsubishi EVO came in second, driving a smart rally and preserving his championship lead into the last event. Richard and Ockwell, who had a comfortable 53 second lead going into the final service, almost saw their buffer eliminated after dried mud prevented the rear wheels from being removed. Not too big of a deal, but they had a flat tire on one of the wheels. Bummer.
After literally breaking the wheels off, the Subaru crew amazingly managed to put the car back together, only leaving the service park 5 minutes late, but dropping their lead to just 3 seconds. L’Estage and Richard battled on the last two stages, with Richard able to keep his lead to the end. The two go into the final round with L’Estage in a position to win the championship even if Richard wins the rally. All he has to do is come in second. Sounds easy, right? Nope.
So the last rounds of the WRC is in Wales, for the Rally GB on October 23-25. The final round of the CRC is in Bancroft, Ontario for the Rally of the Tall Pines on November 20-21. It’s a good thing the two rallies have such kick ass roads, because the weather tends to be cold and damp. If it wasn’t for sweet, sweet rally, I’d be at home that weekend with some beer and blog.