Throughout the year, Porter - a former national-level rally driver and now the WRC’s celebrated guru due to his encyclopaedic knowledge of the series - will share his thoughts with the rallying world at Wrc.com.
Most recently, Porter was in duty on Spain’s Costa Daurada where he witnessed the battle for the 2011 world title take another dramatic twist.
Event:RallyRACC-Rally de Espana
WRC round: 12 of 13
Date: 20-23 October 2011
Special report by: Julian Porter
If only stage six hadn’t happened. It was in that stage that Jari-Matti Latvala lost 46 seconds to Loeb and all hope he had of chasing the win. While Loeb has been virtually unchallenged on the Spanish Tarmac for the past seven years, Saturday 22 October will go down as a special day for Latvala who was quicker than Loeb, the master of Tarmac, over the course of the day’s six stages. It was an inspired drive by Latvala, especially as he knew he would have to surrender his position to his Ford team-mate Mikko Hirvonen before the end of the rally in a bid to help his championship chances. I was holding my breath on Sunday as I watched Latvala attack through the first dark stage of the day in an effort to pressure Loeb into making a mistake. Had that happened Hirvonen’s bid for the championship would have received an enormous boost while Latvala would not have been forced to slow down. Latvala demonstrated some amazing car control during this stage and had some big moments in the process. Unfortunately his efforts did not pay off and he duly had to let Hirvonen move ahead, but not before he came of age on asphalt.
There’s more to come from:
Craig Breen took over Eyvind Brynildsen’s SWRC registration for Spain and was thrust into the limelight in his Ford Fiesta S2000. It didn’t take Breen long to show his talent, he was the fastest SWRC runner on the second stage and won three in total. It could have been more but for a broken right-rear driveshaft early in Saturday’s opening 45-kilometre stage. With another two stages before service all his hopes of victory evaporated. Let’s hope that his performance in Spain encourages Breen to enter next year’s SWRC and mount a serious challenge.
What I liked:
Watching Kris Meeke and the MINI team take the Power Stage victory was one thing I liked in Spain but Petter Solberg and his team deserve credit after Solberg removed the front-left wheel from his car on stage one and retired. It would have been very easy for the team to hop on the next plane home but they weren’t going to let the disappointment get them down and spent the rest of the weekend making sure their guests still had a fun-packed time by going go-karting and watching the stages. Obviously it goes without saying a huge well done to the whole Citroen Total World Rally Team on winning its seventh manufacturers’ championship.