The dust was not the only thing that made things rather dirty on day 3 of Rally Jordan. There was tactics a plenty and some rather questionable moves by a few select individuals that would make the result a little sketchy.
After the misfortune suffered by Mikko Hirvonen on day 2, Sebastian Loeb merely just needed to finish the event in order to collect a hefty points lead heading into Turkey. The Frenchman did just that by taking his 56th career victory over the factory Ford number 2 of Jari-Matti Latvala. Loeb was originally slated to start on the road first giving him the duty of clearing the road for his competitors. So you can imagine everybody’s eyes and ears perked up when news had come out that Sebastian Ogier had suffered an “electrical” problem shortly before the start of day 3. Ford had dispatched Mikko Hirvonen rather early so that the Finn who was competing under super rally rules would accumulate a hefty penalty pushing him ahead of Latvala. Upon hearing this news, Citroen would send Sebastian Ogier out even earlier than that so that he would then accumulate enough penalty time to be first on the road and giving Sebastian (Loeb) a clean line to run through. Confused yet? Regardless of the tactics involved, the plan made Loeb unstoppable as he dominated the morning stages en route to his victory.
The issue of the tactic involved does raise a very valid question: How much is too much? I can understand slowing down on a stage right before the flying finish and have no problems with that at all. The problem that I have is when teams start having magical problems occur during the morning before the day starts as well as checking in early to purposely accumulate penalty minutes. This is where it hits the “too much” line. Unfortunately this is a catch 22 situation that is tough to change. If you penalize people by moving them down the grid order, then teams will get penalized to get out of bad road position and road clearing. However, by moving people to the front you can use teammates in ways that also play an advantageous role. It is a really tough fix but one that I hope the FiA and the WRC can work on. How about not worrying about race rotation and worry about the seemingly open cheating that occurs at some of the rallies.
The next rally will be Rally Turkey and we will see if Kimi Raikkonen can carry the momentum of finishing his first rally and gaining his fist WRC points. Ken Block will return with the Monster World Rally Team and the Fords will be looking for someway to stop the powerful Citroens. Below are the final results for Rally Jordan:
Pos Driver Car Time/Gap
1. Sebastien Loeb Citroen 3h51m35.9s
2. Jari-Matti Latvala Ford + 35.8s
3. Petter Solberg Citroen + 1m11.8s
4. Dani Sordo Citroen + 1m49.3s
5. Matthew Wilson Ford + 8m24.3s
6. Sebastien Ogier Citroen + 10m26.4s
7. Federico Villagra Ford + 11m28.0s
8. Kimi Raikkonen Citroen + 12m31.0s
9. Henning Solberg Ford + 14m08.6s
10. Xevi Pons Ford + 18m33.9s