The third and final day of the legendary Monte Carlo Rally has come to an end and Mikko Hirvonen has won in fine fashion. The WRC driver claimed his first victory in the IRC and made a statement for M-Sport and Ford in the process.
The Ford Fiesta S2000 has tasted victory in its very first outing and did it easily after an exciting third day seen some of the best driving to date from Frenchman Sebastian Ogier. WRC Citroen Junior driver Ogier proved why he was be groomed to replace Sebastian Loeb with a stage win and a blazing pace. Sebastian took second place from factory Skoda entry of Juho Hanninen early during the day’s first stage after setting an absolute blistering pace and besting Hanninen by 18s. Juho ran a conservative program in hopes that the Skoda would make it to the night stages and his patience would pay off. Jan Kopecky was eliminated from contention rather early on Friday as another puncture would finally do the 2009 championship runner up in. Toni Gardemeister never started the final day as he withdrew due to engine damage suffered yesterday.
The excitement was at unbelievable levels for the night stages as all wanted to see if Ogier would challenge the Fiesta of Hirvonen. That excitement would be short lived as Sebastian’s Peugeot 207 S2000 would finally succumb to the punishing driving style and break down en-route to Stage 14. The final diagnosis would be a broken alternator pulley shaft. Nobody else in the field would challenge for the rest of the night stages.
This event was very positive from the WRC perspective as we now see where the true driving talent lives. While the IRC can run around and talk about how many variations of the Super 2000 they have, their drivers don’t hold a candle to the WRC talent. Even a mid pack driver like Ogier was able to come in and mop up the best IRC had to offer. Granted Monte can be written off as a bit of a wildcard, I don’ think it really matters what event they show up to, the WRC has the better talent pool. On the flip side, the IRC yet again can claim that they are more manufacturer friendly and have the most prestigious race in the sport, but the organizers at Monte Carlo should really be scratching their heads. Do we really want a bunch of sub par talent coming to our event, or should we move to secure the best drivers that more people know? I believe that if the WRC can secure the two manufacturers they are looking to add to Ford and Citroen, the answer would be the WRC back at Monte. The WRC also needs to realize that events like Monte have no room being ran every other year. This along with a few other events is one that needs to be on the calendar every year if you want to be successful. As for this year’s race, I say congrats to the IRC for putting on one hell of a show!