“Impossible to make up time in this rally”

Rally Finland was quite eventful for the Citroën Racing team. They missed the podium and had a few bitter disappointments, but they were fighting until the last competitive kilometer of this unique event. In the end, team scored valuable points, but it’s obvious they are not happy scavenging for leftover points. Is it any consolation to know that it could have been much worse?

Mikko Hirvonen‘s rally was effectively over, as far as the fight for the victory is concerned, when he lost massive chunk of time on day 1, when rain combined with unusual starting scheme meant he encountered difficult conditions on the penultimate stage of the day. Another incident on the second day saw him destroying two tyres and almost rolling, but even that did not discourage the Finn – he promised flat out attack on the last day. It wasn’t to be. Stages were too wet for the tyres he picked, and despite the best efforts, Mikko had to accept the fourth.

“The road wasn’t dry enough, so it wasn’t the best option,” he admitted afterwards. “I tried everything, gave my all, but it’s almost impossible to make up lost time at this rally. I didn’t come here for fourth place, so for sure, this result is disappointing.”

Dani Sordo was once again caught in the haze of unknown. There was no confidence and without confidence you’re not going to be fast in Finland. Sordo had his shiny moments, like he usually does, but it was on the stages he knew well. No wonder he says he will try hard to forget Rally Finland of 2013. It wasn’t his first time on this event, but it surely looked like that. How will he cope with the added pressure, especially with next even being on tarmac, remains to be seen. He has the speed, but it’s hidden beneath thick layers of missing confidence or even lack of appreciation of his former results. Perhaps the old Sebastien Loeb’s approach could be applied here: “Every rally is different to me and I don’t go into new rally thinking about what happened in the previous one.”

Kris Meeke ended his one-off outing for Citroën Racing by crashing out of the Ouninpohja special stage. It was a spectacular end to equally spectacular effort – Meeke was effectively the best Citroën driver for good part of the event. Being the Colin McRae’s pupil and eager to produce the best possible result, Kris tried the Flat-Out approach, but he slipped and crashed. However, the pace he displayed was hopefully good enough for a more consistent WRC roles in the future – this guy has the WRC speed and he’s been sidelined for far too long now.

I am glad to see Citroën are fighting – it’s a tough year but they’re not running away from the challenge.