Thoughts: 2007 Rally de Portugal

Not a bad rally, eh? I haven’t been around long enough to remember the original, but it was enjoyable, and certainly interesting. Here are my thoughts on my first Rally de Portugal.

Honestly, this rally is better than Cyprus or Turkey. The drivers think so too. Petter said that some of the stages are the most difficult he’s seen in his entire career. It’s also got heritage, a massive home fan base, and a sense of excitement.

The big news is the post-event scrutineering. The rear side windows were found to be non-homologated parts (who checks the thickness of a rear side window anyway?) so all six Ford drivers were handed five minute penalties. That changes the rally results to:
1st – Sebastien Loeb
2nd – Petter Solberg
3rd – Dani Sordo
4th – Marcus Gronholm
5th – Mikko Hirvonen
6th – Daniel Carlsson
7th – Gigi Galli
8th – Jari-Matti Latvala
9th – Manfred Stohl
I’m really shocked. Rules are rules, but that seems like a huge waste of a weekend’s worth of driving. Kinda puts a damper on the whole event.
Well, that’s victory number 31 for Sebastien Loeb. Another good battle, won mostly on leg 2 because of Seb’s uncanny ability to choose the correct tyres and look after them. And, apparently, the ability to keep his windows at their homologated thickness.

Marcus has proven he is still very, very fast compared to Loeb. He would still leading the driver’s championship if the penalty weren’t given. The 2006 Focus is still competitive against the 2007 C4. So Marcus–please, please, please don’t retire!

Speaking of C4’s, Dani Sordo’s 5th/3rd place finish impressed me. His speed was only behind that of the “Big Three” and Mikko Hirvonen, all of whom have much more experience and expertise on gravel. He’s showing that he’s improving on the loose stuff, which is exactly what he needs to be world champion one day.

Everyone else seemed to be struggling, in the car and emotionally. Manfred Stohl finished in 10th/9th and couldn’t make any impact in his Xsara. Neither could Carlsson for most of the rally. And Gigi was just stymied as to how the top guys could be going so fast. He put in 1000% and still ended up 1 second per kilometer slower than the leaders. Gee, the Xsara was just magic in the hands of Seb and Dani.
The only other guy to have a decent run was Jari-Matti. He set a couple third-fastest stage times and would’ve finished 6th.

And finally, the award for the most depressed driver of the week goes to Henning Solberg. Normally, he’s got the most cheer and chuckles than anyone in town. But after stage one, I couldn’t even recognize his voice, it was so disappointed and devoid of energy. I guess he’s taking more time to find the feeling with the Focus than he’d like, but he shouldn’t be so sad! Send a warm fuzzy from your heart to his, in hopes he’ll be back to his normal Henning-y self by Argentina.

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April 2, 2007. Auto Racing, Citroen, Ford, Motorsport, Rally, Rally Reports, Rallying, Subaru, The Adventures of Henning Solberg, Thoughts, WRC.

One Comment

  1. charles replied:

    terrific, guyz do me a mega favor and mail me all the images of the super special stadium stage of the portugal rally
    greatful

    charles kaija

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