Sebastien. What the hell is it about this name? Sebastien Loeb, nine times World Rally Champion, Sebastien Ogier, our new champion, Sebastien Chardonnet, the newly crowned WRC3 champion. Seriously, why? I won’t even mention that other Seb. The one with the finger.
What a rally, what a sport. This weekend everything just – worked and clicked. Some splits weren’t here, TV coverage was limited to some broadcasters and countries, but I really feel a bit like an a-hole complaining 24/7. We had the opportunity to watch stages live, we were onboard with crews as they raced through the stages! With regards to split times, if teams don’t mind, who are we to complain. For me there were many highlights this week end – Dani Sordo’s inspired drive, Sebastien Ogier’s climb up the order, Thierry Neuville’s speed, of course, the retirement of the great Sebastien Loeb. Also the fact that the French driver won the event driving for a German team in French event in Alsace region!
But maybe the biggest highlight was the fantastic, brilliant, thrilling live TV coverage of the special stages! Seriously, honestly, nothing compares to this. It is so unusual and exciting that it takes a bit of getting used to. For example, you root for Dani Sordo and you want him to finish the rally and not lose a position. So you watch him squeeze his DS3 WRC around the haybales and concrete barriers of the Hagenau stage… and you get genuinely scared and worried, not in a bad way, but in a “please don’t make a mistake, please don’t make a mistake” way. This is what we need, this is what WRC and its fans across the world deserve. There were calls directed to FIA and promoters this weekend, fans asking for global TV/Internet service, people saying they would pay monthly fees to be able to access quality coverage. FIA, hey, yo even, don’t fuck this up or we’ll organize a tractorcade to Paris and unload over 9000 tonnes of manure in front of your HQ.
Rallye de France showed how much passion and potential lies within this sport. It’s a fantastic platform for car manufacturers, it’s genuine, raw and downright awesome, but it needs a way to reach out to people, to introduce itself to the world and conquer new horizons. And I firmly believe small steps could yield huge results, if taken in right direction.
So many things happened this weekend, it’s hard to really grasp everything and put up a decent report. This is why I don’t really write reports. I don’t see any point in them, especially if I wasn’t there. Personal impressions from 1400-ish km away, that I can do. Competition wise, storming display of skill by, well, almost everybody really! Conditions were difficult, stages even changed their configuration compared to recce, and yet we had 4 crews within 5 seconds going into the final day of the event. Some failed, some struggled, some excelled, but c’est rallye! Take the positives and move on.
Driver of the rally: Dani Sordo, hands down. In my book at least.
The new era is upon is, in more ways than one. Let’s hope it’s a good one.
It’s been a rally to remember, that’s for sure. I’m not sure whether I want to disclose this or not, but what the hell, why not. Alas, two weeks ago I got invited to visit Rallye de France and be a guest at Citroën Racing. Sounded like a dream come true, but immediately I knew it wasn’t going to happen and all because of me, my personal commitments and the inability to travel at this particular time. I think this must be what drivers feel like when their car breaks down on the last stage of the event, while they’re in the lead. Gutted doesn’t even come close. Not nearly.
My plan is to join the WRC and visit events and I am pushing a whole new concept into this idea. I cannot thank Citroën enough for their extremely kind invitation and I do hope we’ll get to see each other at some other event, and soon. Granted, it will not be 2013 Rallye de France, but seeing how dream like this event really was I am not sure whether I was really invited or was it just my imagination. Almost too good to be true.
I need a wee drink now, a glass of something to celebrate successes of so many Sebastiens. You too, Mr Loeb, you too.