New season of World Rally Championship just started of this morning with two stages held high up in the mountains of France, and while we’re still early in the first rally, we cannot help but feel this season might really be something to remember.
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Furthermore, this feeling is shared by many in rallying community, and nobody is able to name single reason for 2012 to look so promising for World Rally Championship. Ford’s sporting chief Gerard Quinn tweeted last night “I cannot sleep…..how could I be so excited. It’s only the start of the 2012 season and I have done this before. Like a kid at Christmas!!”
His sentiments are shared by many, including your blogger. It is not possible to single out one reason for this extremely positive atmosphere ahead of new season, but let’s try and point out the obvious.
First of all, we have Rallye Monte Carlo as new season opener. With extended itinerary and long sections it reminds WRC fans and drivers what rallying used to be. With weather playing major part this Monte is certainly shaping up to be one of the most memorable ones.
Second, we have new faces in new teams. Mini found a way to join WRC after troublesome start to it’s first year as full manufacturer team. Petter Solberg joined Ford and Mikko Hirvonen stepped out to strengthen Citroën ranks. At the same time, we have superbly fast Sebastien Ogier in Škoda Fabia S2000, and he is surely set to surprise few people during the course of 2012. Meanwhile, Jari-Matti Latvala is more determined than ever to finally make his move and challenge the title this year. In Monte usual WRC suspects are joined by Monte and WRC veteran Francois Delecour, as flamboyant as ever. Thierry Neuville is one of many WRC hopefuls ready to challenge “old guys”. With many other drivers aiming to make this “their year” we can see why 2012 might give us some fierce competition.
Third reason surely must be last minute rescue of media coverage, which was handed to Eurosport, although some doubts and uncertainties still remain. It’s a shame deal came very late so there was not enough time for Eurosport to set up live TV coverage of Monte, but we’re hoping they’ll do their best to improve on that during the season.
Ten years ago World Rally Radio started covering WRC in Monte Carlo, and this year they’re again in full force, providing unique insight into top class rallying first hand.
There are many other tiny details, one of which is the fact that it’s a new year and everyone is full of expectations and hope, that make up this positive picture for 2012. Let’s all make the best out of it!