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.
Earlier this month, Porter was in duty in the Alsace region of France where, as expected, he saw a Sebastien win for Citroen.
Event: Rallye de France Alsace
WRC round: 11 of 13
Date: 28 September-2 October 2011
Special report by: Julian Porter
I’m not going to make any excuses for putting Dani Sordo as my stage hero for the second time in three rallies. In France Dani was supreme. Once Sebastien Loeb had retired he had a chance of winning a WRC rally and to win in France would have been some sort of poetic justice after all those seasons at Citroen and winning nothing. In the end it was second for Dani and not the win that he so craved, but he did give his former employers a few uneasy moments.
There’s more to come from:
In the history of the WRC we have had drivers who excel on one particular surface, on the other hand there are obvious talents who shine on all surfaces. In France Jari-Matti Latvala showed us that on Tarmac he will be a force to be reckoned with in the future with seven stage wins. All he needs now is consistency.
What I liked:
Loeb’s stage-three retirement left the local fans without their hero to cheer. However, they were rewarded with a brilliant three-way fight at the front between Sebastien Ogier, Sordo and Petter Solberg. This was reduced to two when Petter’s puncture on Saturday morning ruled him out but it still left Ogier and Sordo fighting it out and swapping the lead here and there. With only one roll of the dice left on Sunday morning, Sordo decided to go with the opposite tyre choice than Ogier: “there’s no point in matching him, we had to do something different,” Sordo told me afterwards. With Ogier on the hard compound Michelins, Sordo went with the softs. Sordo carved into Ogier’s lead on the first two stages, the softs working well in the cooler conditions. In the third one they were equal. From then on in, Ogier’s Citroen started to pull away, the hard tyres standing up better in the fight at the front.
What I loathed:
Motorsport is dangerous and there is a great amount of work being undertaken by the FIA to massively improve the safety of the crews but France showed us that injuries can and do still happen. Those injured in various accidents were Carlos Magalhaes, Kathi Wuestenhagen, Ashley Haigh-Smith and James Aldridge and I wish them all a speedy recovery.
Despite their early exit from the rally and with no points to gain Sebastien Loeb and Daniel Elena turned up to demonstrate their gratitude to their adoring fans by driving around the Haguenau stage in a Citroen DS3 road car. With Daniel at the wheel and Sebastien perched on the passenger door the response from the fans was amazing to the extent there was a louder cheer for the driver who retired on stage three than there was for the guy who actually won, even though he was French driving a French car.