I’m not even thinking about the battle for the lead, it’s not the most exciting thing to look out for. Ok, ok, maybe it is because victory, but it seems there are fights and duels taking place across the field. That, I think, is just wonderful. Sometimes it’s exciting to see one driver and/or team build a dominant lead and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with said driver and/or team if it happens, but I much prefer to have them all bundled up together, with tiny gaps and big ambitions. Please do not reread previous sentence.
So, which fight do you find most interesting to observe and do you even think they are actually fights and not just coincidence of two drivers ending the day separated by just few seconds. We can disregard the fact that it’s rally we’re talking about and then we could claim that it’s all about close fighting and pushing to the limits, but we know better. Rally is not just about beating the guy next to you unless you actually manage to do it and finish the event in one piece. It’s about surviving and enduring as well, so sometimes even the most tempting opportunity to overtake someone in overall classification will be ignored because the risks would be too high. It’s all about the bigger picture – just ask Thierry Neuville. We could almost feel his frustration today when that problem with mistake in split time interpretation caused him to lose some time on one of the stages. He wanted to push and achieve, fueled by an excellent time set on the previous stage, which he almost won. But it was and it still is very important for Thierry to keep the ambitions and frustrations in check and so far he’s doing a great job.
For me personally the most interesting duel is the one taking place behind the leading duo of Sebastien Ogier and Andreas Mikkelsen. The day ended with Jari-Matti Latvala holding on to the final step of the provisional podium, but Ott Tanak, the mad flying Estonian is taking no damn prisoners this time around. Only 2,6 seconds separates two drivers and I am very eager to see how this one will unfold in the coming days.
Mads Ostberg and Mikko Hirvonen are practically hugging for the night – there is literally nothing between them as they’re both 22.5 seconds behind the overnight leader. Mads finally found some of the lost confidence and Mikko also sounds relaxed so this is another one to watch and enjoy for tomorrow.
Finally, take a look at positions 10 to 13. That’s right, it’s the snow virgins and almost virgins club, competing on the white stuff for the first time, or for the first time in a WRC car or some other form of first. Kris Meeke, Robert Kubica and Elfyn Evans, separated by less then 30 seconds with local hero Pontus Tidemand just 2 seconds ahead of Meeke. The potential to provide exciting rally action is high in this group.