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 travelled to Wales to watch Jari-Matti Latvala secure his first and only victory of 2011, Sebastien Loeb clinch an eighth world crown and Craig Breen win the inaugural WRC Academy Cup title.
Event:Wales Rally GB
WRC round: 13 of 13
Date: 10-13 November 2011
Special report by: Julian Porter
Craig Breen came into the final round of this year’s FIA WRC Academy 20 points behind Egon Kaur. It was a tall order for Breen because he had to finish first and win 14 stages out of 17 to take the title. Some will say that Breen should have wrapped up the title long before he arrived in Wales but he hadn’t so we were left with two youngsters fighting for the title and the 500,000 Euros prize. Breen’s rally didn’t get off to a great start, beaten on stage one, but luckily not by Kaur. That left him needing 14 stage wins out of the 16 remaining stages. Breen won stages, two, three and four with Alastair Fisher matching him on stage four. The rest of Friday went to plan until stage 11 when Molly Taylor took an unexpected stage win in the fog. However, Breen’s day ended with the lead and nine stage wins although championship rival Kaur was right behind him.
Saturday consisted of six stages of which Breen needed to win five. Kaur took the first stage of the day leaving Breen with the monster challenge of having to win all remaining stages. The pressure was immense. Fast forward to the end of the penultimate stage and there was just one stage win standing between Breen and the title - never had 27.88 kilometres been so important. Breen arrived at the stop line with a time of 18m15.0s to begin the longest 11 minutes of his life as he waited nervously to find out if his dream had been realised. There was nothing more he could do but anxiously pace around in the mud awaiting the arrival of Kaur. I was in the back of a marshal’s van waiting for Kaur’s time. Would it be Breen or would it be Kaur? After what seemed an eternity Kaur’s time finally appeared. I stepped out of the van to announce the time of 18m22.1s to the waiting crowd. And what followed was an outpouring of emotion from victorious Breen and his co-driver Gareth Roberts. Tears were shed and the champagne flowed amongst the wild screaming of the Irish fans who had made their way to the stop line. There are life-changing moments in all our lives and on that Saturday afternoon on Wales Rally GB at the end of a stage called Myherin Craig Breen’s life changed forever. He was now the FIA WRC Academy Cup champion. What a rollercoaster ride he’d been on during the year, but by winning 39 stages during the season he took the title on a count back of stage wins. Now that was close!
There’s more to come from:
Ott Tanak. He came to Wales Rally GB on the back of a strong SWRC programme but not only was he in a Ford Fiesta WRC for the first time but he was also using DMACK tyres for the first time. DMACK had used its “joker” for GB designing a tyre that would suit the wet and muddy Welsh forests. Tanak did an impressive job, loving every moment and gaining experience along the way. Third fastest on stage 12, the young Estonian ran as high as fifth at one point before claiming a more than respectable sixth place finish. For those of you who hadn’t heard of him before, you have now - this kid is the real deal.