Rally Bulgaria is now in the books and while a lot of the action was off the stages between Citroen, Ford, and Sebastian Ogier, we had another dominant performance from Sebastian Loeb. The now 58 times winner in rally’s top flight increases his amazing stretch on tarmac while the Ford duo slip back into obscurity.
The weekend gave Citroen a 1-2-3-4 finish with Sordo finishing runner up to his teammate and Petter Solberg finishing in the third position. The man making most of the headlines (Ogier) finished in the fourth position. A finish this dominant has not been seen since Toyota was able to pull off a similar finishing order during the 1993 Safari Rally. The Factory Fords would finish fifth and sixth. Ford have not been tarmac aces as of late and this is just another result that the team will look to forget. A bad call on tire strategy was what really finished them off, but it was really over before then.
I was really interested in the nice pace Kimi Raikkonen was setting on day 1. Typical Kimi however would see that promise trashed on the last stage of day 1 when the Finn flew off road and into some bushes. The car was damaged heavily but rejoined the event on Saturday and Kimi was able to get back up to 11th position by rally’s end. As the rumors continue to push for a Kimi/Renault future, “the iceman” needs to really evaluate his options. While he is naturally quick on tarmac, he lacks on all other surfaces and has only had moments of success this year. He needs to be careful with these asphalt performances as they are not truly indicative of his results this year to date.
The championship has really moved into a two horse race with Loeb and Ogier split by about 50 points (two events worth). Hirvonen is third but is quickly falling and stands to be overtaken by Petter Solberg if the M-Sport boys cannot come to grips with their problems. If Loeb continues his tear through the asphalt rounds, this championship will be wrapped and we will begin to dream of all the things in store for WRC fans next season. Below is the final top 10 for Rally Bulgaria:
1. Sebastien Loeb Citroen 3h02m39.2s
2. Dani Sordo Citroen + 29.5s
3. Petter Solberg Citroen + 36.3s
4. Sebastien Ogier Citroen + 1m55.0s
5. Mikko Hirvonen Ford + 3m17.8s
6. Jari-Matti Latvala Ford + 4m28.5s
7. P-G Andersson Ford + 5m25.2s
8. Frigyes Turan Peugeot + 7m04.0s
9. Matthew Wilson Ford + 9m28.6s
10. Henning Solberg Ford + 13m06.0s