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 Coffs Coast, New South Wales to watch Citroen’s star drivers falter and Ford take a dominant one-two as Rally Australia returned to the WRC trail with a bang.
Event: Rally Australia
WRC round: 10 of 13
Date: 8-11 September 2011
Special report by: Julian Porter
Earlier this season Hayden Paddon featured in my “there’s more to come from” section. On Sunday afternoon, around about 1600hrs local time Hayden and co-driver John Kennard proved me correct by becoming PWRC world champions! Hayden has driven each event with the championship in mind, albeit winning each rally he has entered and Australia was no different, until Saturday morning that was, when he dropped over two minuets with a split turbo pipe. If Hayden was going to win the championship close to home and reap the benefits for his sponsors and fans, he was going to have to push to the maximum. From Saturday lunchtime onwards we were shown a master class of how to drive a Group N Subaru. He never gave up and by pushing he re-took the lead on Saturday night and extended it during Sunday and probably only really backed off on the rally’s final Power Stage. Hayden and John stood proudly on the bonnet of their Subaru at the end of that stage, knowing that a dream had been fulfilled. This guy is hopefully destined for a bright future, and this year has set him on the right track. Look at were he has won, Portugal, Argentina, Finland and now Australia, they don’t get much tougher than that. Hayden, John, congratulations you are now WORLD CHAMPIONS.
There’s more to come from:
Day two of the rally saw Henning Solberg and co-driver Ilka Minor running in a comfortable fourth position in their Ford Fiesta only for it to cut out and stop on stage 15. After several minutes of trying to get it going, all hope was lost and they were out and a valuable fourth place and all the publicity that goes with it was gone. We have to remember that Henning missed Argentina due to a lack of budget and spent the time trying to sort deals out for the rest of this season and next. If stories are to be believed he will be back next season and the championship will be a better place for it. He never stops smiling and is great for a quote or two. I hope if all his plans come off he will have enough budget to get some testing done as his shakedowns are spent pounding the road trying to do just that.
What I liked:
Two years ago when we visited Australia to say we weren’t welcome was an understatement. So two years later we boarded the plane for the long flight to the other side of the world to see what reaction we would get. Fortunately, this time it was like being in a different world. The rally, the area, the stages, the people were all very welcoming and as normal we had an interesting rally, both Citroens crashing, a Ford one-two, the championship back alive! I hope that the rally can be rewarded with a long-term contract.