Tuesday | 22 Jul 2014

Half-term report: The supporting cast

With only a handful of rallies to prove themselves, here’s how some of the WRC’s guest drivers have got on so far this season.

Dani Sordo

Rounds contested: Monte Carlo, Portugal, Argentina
Three rallies. Three heartbreaking retirements. So far Sordo’s 2014 has been painful to watch – and through no fault of his own. The Spaniard was lying third on the Monte when his Hyundai i20 WRC expired with an electrical fault. In Portugal he took stage wins and was fourth when a drive shaft failed. He was quickest at shakedown in Argentina, but then stopped with a turbo problem almost as soon as the rally proper started. Plenty of highs, but each followed by a crushing low. Our nominee for unluckiest man of the season so far.

Henning Solberg

Rounds contested: Sweden, Portugal, Sardegna, Poland
One of the most experienced drivers in the championship (he made his WRC debut 16 years ago), Solberg returned to the WRC in Sweden after a year away  describing himself as “an old guy, but very motivated.” Sure enough, the 42-year-old was soon back to his stage winning ways. Seventh in Sweden was impressive, while fifth in Mexico was another strong result, especially as his most recent event on gravel in a World Rally Car was at Rally GB 2011. In Sardegna and Poland Henning again jumped into a Fiesta RS that lack of finance meant he hadn’t tested and set good times. It has been like this for a long time now, but the Norwegian never lets the budget issues bother him.

Chris Atkinson

Rounds contested: Mexico
After a 12-month absence, Atko returned to the WRC in Mexico as one of the drivers signed by Hyundai to prove its i20 WRC. Alas the Mexican roads took their toll on the new car, and the Australian endured as many problems on the opening morning as some drivers encounter in a season. But, crucially, none were of his making. He battled through them all and got his car to the finish in sixth. Hopefully he’ll get a smoother run when he returns to the Hyundai squad on his home round in Australia.

Hayden Paddon

Rounds contested: Sardegna, Poland
Sardegna was the Kiwi’s maiden rally with the Hyundai squad and he bedded himself in nicely, holding 8th place until the engine in his i20 WRC developed a terminal misfire after a water splash and he was forced to stop. The Kiwi relished the level playing field that the unknown stages in Poland brought and finishing eighth marked another step forward in his fledgling career. Overall a great start for Paddon and one that will give him extra confidence as he heads to Finland.

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