Mikko Hirvonen needed to reverse an eight-point deficit to beat Sebastien Loeb to the 2011 WRC title by winning Wales Rally GB and hoping Loeb faltered. In the event, neither driver finished with Hirvonen spinning out of the lead on Friday’s third stage, damaging his Fiesta’s radiator in the process, while Loeb was eliminated following a freak collision with a spectator’s car on a road section while fighting Jari-Matti Latvala, in the second works Ford, for victory on the final morning. Mads Ostberg finished second in his privateer Fiesta with Henning Solberg taking third despite Kris Meeke’s best efforts in his MINI (pictured). The Northern Irishman needed to beat Solberg through the event-closing Power Stage but a spin ensured the Norwegian veteran would complete the podium. Craig Breen and the late Gareth Roberts clinched the inaugural FIA WRC Academy crown in dramatic circumstances. They had to claim the maximum number of fastest stage times possible to overhaul Egon Kaur for the crown and did so by going fastest on the final stage of the event.
Did you know?
Wales Rally GB celebrates its 80th anniversary in 2012, although this year’s event will be the 67th running after World War II, the Suez Crisis in 1957 and the outbreak of foot and mouth disease in 1967 forced its cancellation.
Matthew Wilson is back on world championship duty having been absent from the series since a fall while training for Rally Sweden in February left him with a broken ankle. Fully fit, the 25-year-old Briton is raring to make an impact in the Ford Fiesta RS WRC he will share with co-driver Scott Martin. With a lack of match practice, Wilson will be up against it but his pace on gravel and knowledge of the Welsh stages should cancel out his lack of recent seat time.