Day two, Greece 2009. This was the last time that both Citroens crashed on the same day, which is nearly as rare as an eclipse of the moon. But on Friday in Australia it happened again with Loeb crashing on stage four and stage six the scene of his team-mate Ogier’s demise. I know from my position at the end of stage that this was quite hard to believe, but it was true and Citroen was staring at ‘nil points’ from its long trip Down Under. Ford on the other hand was now under massive pressure to make the most of the gift handed to it. I don’t know who was under more pressure, Sven Smeets, the Citroen Racing team manager, having to tell Olivier Quesnel what had happened or Malcolm Wilson and the whole Ford team with everything in their hands hoping it wouldn’t fall apart! The end result was that Ford held it all together to claim its first one two since Sardinia 2009 while Citroen used all its tools and power to propel Loeb into 10th place and valuable points.
Quote of the rally:
Now we know the Aussie’s are good for a quote or two and Rally Australia was probably the best event all year for quotes. The top of the pile must be Denis Giraudet and his various quotes to his driver Evgeny Novikov while parked in the undergrowth after Evgeny had finished playing pinball with the trees with his Fiesta.
Shakedown - Denis to Evgeny: “That’s not so clever”. Stage seven - Evgeny: “Don’t worry”. Denis: “Yes I worry, Yes I worry, Yes I worry, oh Evgeny”. Stage 22 - Denis to Evgeny “One day you have to listen a little bit, one day you have to listen”. Henning Solberg, when referring to the conditions at the end of day one: “You can say it’s very challenging for us drivers, it’s like been bambi on the ice with these tyres in these conditions.” Leigh Gotch, at the end of stage eight: “Both those last two stages have been like trying to drive a dog on lino. Mate there’s carnage out there everywhere, and it was a funny thing when I went past Loeb on his side, it actually gave me a bit of confidence mate.”
Henning Solberg rolled his Fiesta on stage 23 and while he initially remained in the car, co-driver Ilka summoned help from the nearby marshals to roll the car back onto its wheels. They couldn’t manage it and Henning was ordered out to help. Once out of the car, the Fiesta was put back on its wheels. It was now time to get back into the car and in the confusion Ilka and Henning started to get into the wrong sides of the car with Ilka into the driver’s seat and Henning the co-driver’s. Fortunately the mistake was noticed before Ilka had to drive, which could have been interesting!
6-7/10. In Australia we had three completely different days, Friday, wet and windy with both Citroens crashing, which doesn’t happen often! Saturday was a day of everybody trying to hold on to what they had. Sunday was like a final day of the season fling, with people making mistakes and crashing and team orders being applied to get the maximum for the drivers and teams. All in all, I enjoyed Australia and would welcome the long trip back.