Mid-Season Review: WRC 2
In the last of our half-term reports, it’s time to look into WRC 2 and see who’s best placed to pick up the big prize at the end of the year.
Popular Mexican driver Benito Guerra was one of the later arrivals in class this season, with the ŠKODA Fabia R5 star landing a home win in León in round three. Guerra lined up all three WRC rounds on the American side of the Atlantic and bagged a brace of second places in XION Rally Argentina and Copec Rally Chile. Adding a top-six spot on his maiden 2019 appearance in Europe at Vodafone Rally de Portugal was enough to land him the lead by 18 points.
Crucially, Guerra has only registered four of his available six scores – don’t forget, it’s the best six results from seven starts that count in this class.
That means Frenchman Pierre-Louis Loubet is looking similarly strong – he’s second with only three scores, having led for more stages than anybody else this season. Back-to-back WRC 2 wins in Portugal and Italy made up for a lowly 10th place on the Corsica Linea Tour de Corse and rocketed the ŠKODA driver into contention.
Loubet is one point ahead of one of the season’s strongest performers so far in Ole Christian Veiby. Unfortunately for the Norwegian, he hasn’t been able to turn that early promise into points. He’s third after a solid start with a Rallye Monte-Carlo podium and a win in the snow in Sweden. Retirements after losing a wheel in Corsica and that fire that stopped his Volkswagen Polo GTI R5 while leading Portugal have hurt his title prospects.
Veiby needs big scores from his two remaining rallies.
The story is very similar for Takamoto Katsuta. The Japanese driver is three points down on Veiby after a win in Chile, but his story so far would have been very different if he’d collected points on either of his last two rallies in Portugal or Italy. Some consolation for Toyota Gazoo Racing’s junior driver (who actually runs a Ford Fiesta R5 in WRC 2) is that he’s top of the class in terms of fastest stage times for WRC 2 – he has two more than Veiby.
Russian driver Nikolay Gryazin has made a strong start to his maiden WRC 2 season to round out the half-time top-six. Kajetan Kajetanowicz, Heller brothers Alberto and Pedro, Fabio Andolfi, Emil Bergkvist, Marco Bulacia, Yoann Bonato and Rhys Yates are all capable of putting results together to elevate themselves to the top of the class in the second half of the season.
The same goes for Henning Solberg, one of the WRC school’s most likeable and entertaining drivers.
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