So it all comes down to this. One point separates the two title contenders and we are at the season finale, Rally Great Britain. Day 1 was everything I was hoping for and then some. The battle to this point is so intense its conclusion may lead to the destruction of planet earth!
Sebastian Loeb currently leads day 1 of the rally by a very slim 5.3 seconds. Loeb began the day by winning the opening three stages with Hirvonen performing poorly. The stages were a nice gravel/mud mix with fog everywhere. Loeb would lead Hirvonen by 8.9 seconds heading into the midday service park. Hirvonen however, was about to put on a performance worthy of a champion by beating Loeb on the repeat run of the stages and closing the gap to a very manageable 5.3 seconds. Hirvonen indicated that a number of times during the afternoon he was pushing so hard he nearly came off the stage countless times. That is a definite sign of the feverish pace that both the contenders are driving. So quick are the top two, that third place Petter Solberg is already 40 seconds behind the duo.
Petter came into the rally excited at the prospect of running a C4 from the Citroen Juniors stable. The car was supposed to be nearly the same as that of the works team. He was fastest during shakedown and was going to challenge for victory if he could, regardless of the championship battle. However his day 1 pace has been only good enough for third as he battles with Citroen factory #2 Dani Sordo. Solberg currently holds a 1.6 second gap as he looks to secure a solid finish in hopes of boosting his 2010 prospects. Ford #2 Jari Matti Latvala finished day 1 in ninth place with a broken driveshaft costing the Finn dearly. Surprise, surprise.
Day 2 is set to kick off tomorrow morning as this epic battle continues. Rain is forecasted for the day’s stages and it will be interesting to see how Loeb performs out front.