Miniatures of Juan Manuel Fangio and a flying Tommi Makinen


Ireland 2009


SO HERE WE GO AGAIN - THE NEW SEASON KICKED OFF WITH AN INCIDENT-PACKED ROUND IN IRELAND WHERE SEBASTIEN LOEB STARTED HIS CAMPAIGN TO DEFEND HIS 2008 TITLE. IT ALSO SAW ANOTHER FRENCH SEBASTIEN DRIVING FOR CITROňN WHO COULD PROVE TO BE HIS SUCCESSOR - SEBASTIEN OGIER, 2008 JUNIOR W.R.C. CHAMPION, DRIVING FOR THE CITROňN JUNIOR TEAM ALONGSIDE CHRIS ATKINSON AND CONRAD RAUTENBACH.

THE MAIN TEAM IS UNCHANGED AS IS THEIR MAJOR COMPETITOR, B-P FORD WHOSE OWN JUNIOR TEAM OF STOBART VK FORD STILL INCLUDES HENNING SOLBERG AND MATTHEW WILSON WITH NEWCOMER URMO AAVA, FORMERLY OF CITROňN. SADLY, NO SUBARU TEAM, SO NO PETTER SOLBERG, AND NO SUZUKI - BOTH TEAMS ARE VICTIMS OF THE CURRENT GLOBAL ECONOMIC WOES.

SS1 SAW AN INTERESTING DEVELOPMENT. THE RAIN WAS HAMMERING DOWN AND MOST DRIVERS CHOSE A TREADED DRY TYRE WHEREAS JARI-MATTI LATVALA CHOSE TO RUN THE SNOW TYRE! THE DIFFERENCE WAS AMAZING - HE WON THE STAGE WITH A 45-SECOND GAP TO SEBASTIEN LOEB WHO WAS ONLY 7TH FASTEST. THE STAGE WAS RUN IN PRE-DAWN CONDITIONS AND HE COULDN'T SEE THE STANDING WATER AND, IN ANY CASE, HE WAS AQUA-PLANING ON THE FAST STRETCHES. HOWEVER, NORMAL SERVICE WAS SOON RESUMED - HE CHANGED TYRES AND JARI-MATTI, UNFORTUNATELY, DAMAGED THE FRONT-LEFT SUSPENSION AND DRIVE-SHAFT AND HAD TO RETIRE PART WAY THROUGH DAY 1.

GRADUALLY, THE TWO CITROEN DRIVERS ESTABLISHED A COMFORTABLE LEAD AND NEVER LOOKED TROUBLED. MIKKO HIRVONEN'S CAR LOST ALL POWER-STEERING ON DAY 2, WHICH PUT HIM TOO FAR ADRIFT TO CONTINUE HIS CHALLENGE ALTHOUGH HE DID SURVIVE TO FINISH 3RD. CHRIS ATKINSON HAD A SPECTACULAR DEBUT - A SMASHED WINDSCREEN EARLY ON DAY 1 AND THEN, LATER THAT DAY, A MASSIVE SPIN THAT BROUGHT DOWN A TELEGRAPH POLE AND CABLES WHEN HE HIT IT. BUT HE SURVIVED TO HAVE A GREAT SECOND DAY AND, BUT FOR ANOTHER 'OFF' WHEN HE AND HENNING SOLBERG WERE FIGHTING WITH EACH OTHER FOR 4TH PLACE, HE WOULD HAVE TAKEN THAT PLACE.

SEBASTIEN OGIER FINISHED A CREDITABLE 6TH, AFTER AN EARLY PROBLEM, AND KHALID AL QASSIMI FROM ABU DHABI, DRIVING FOR THE MAIN FORD TEAM AS THE COUNTRY SPONSORS THEM, SAW MORE RAIN IN THREE DAYS IN IRELAND THAN HE HAS PROBABLY EVER SEEN IN HIS HOME COUNTRY. HE EARNED THE FINAL POINT IN THIS ABSORBING RALLY. ROLL ON THE REST OF 2009'S CURTAILED SEASON - ONLY 12 ROUNDS THIS YEAR.





RESULT

1. Sebastien Loeb / Citroen Total
2. Daniel Sordo / Citroen Total
3. Mikko Hirvonen / BP-Ford
4. Henning Solberg / Stobart VK Ford
5. Chris Atkinson / CitroŽn Junior Team
6. Sebastien Ogier / CitroŽn Junior Team
7. Matthew Wilson / Stobart VK Ford
8. Khalid al Qassimi / BP-Ford

 

CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS

Drivers :

Sebastien Loeb 10
Daniel Sordo 8
Mikko Hirvonen 6
Henning Solberg 5
Chris Atkinson 4
Sebastien Ogier 3
Matthew Wilson 2
Khalid al Qassimi 1

Constructors :

CitroŽn Total 18
BP-Ford 8
=Stobart VK Ford 8
Citroen Junior Team 5
Munchi's Ford 0

Rally Results posted by
David Little
2nd February 2009

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