It has been a long while since I have been able to write a Monday Service Park, but I have one for you this week as the IRC concluded its third round in France. A good rally with lots of excitement and a Peugeot claiming the top step over the mighty Skoda Fabia S2000. So without further delay, here is this week’s Monday Service Park.
Tour de Corse-E.Leclerc
The third round of the IRC saw the series head to a historic event on the French island. The rally is traditionally known as the “Rally of 10,000 Corners” produced some exciting action within the top five. Thierry Neuville would claim the overall win for Peugeot Belux. The Belgian ace would lead a majority of the rally and had no problem controlling his gap to eventual second place finisher Jan Kopecky. Freddy Loix would complete the podium and in the process overhaul the points lead. The IRC counts a competitors top seven recorded finishes in figuring its champion. This allows for some teams that cannot compete all season to earn a bid at the title. Loix would spend the rally doing battle with Skoda UK driver Andreas Mikkelsen until the later would suffer a puncture that would see him finish the rally in sixth position overall. The next round of the championship will be held in Ukraine.
What is Skoda Doing?
That is a simple question I have. I asked this same question to Colin Clark a couple weeks ago and he too was unsure as to what it is Skoda have in mind for Finnish sensation Juho Hanninen. The program he is on this year defies logic for a defending champion. He is running a partial IRC calendar when Skoda needs him…and then a portion of the SWRC with Red Bull Skoda. He has a shot at defending his IRC crown as before mentioned, he only needs seven rounds to be considered. He has already won the the second round of the IRC in Spain, but has found the IRC to be a little more difficult against the likes of Ott Tanak and some of the SWRC regulars. He has performed brilliant none the less. Current news from Volkswagen is they will run three cars in the championship for 2013 and word on the street is Hanninen is still improving as a driver (is that possible?). Given an established driver and a young German will be with the team in 2013, I will be very interested to see what VAG decides to do with Hanninen. Since Skoda falls under the VW umbrella, surly he would have a shot at the third seat. Regardless of the future, I find that Skoda is really wasting a talent here and understand the need to have Czech driver Kopecky in a top ride, but that does not excuse the way a defending champion is being treated.
Oregon Trail Rally
Make it two in a row for Subaru USA driver David Higgins as he claimed overall victory in Oregon this weekend as part of the Rally America championship. Higgins who won the shortened Olympus Rally, would win by over three minutes after Antoine L’Estage suffered three tire punctures in a row on day two. This victory would hand Higgins the overall points lead over L’Estage and would mark the end of Super Production driver Travis Hanson’s run as the overall championship lead. Subaru Canada driver Pat Richard would retire from the rally with mechanical issues and Subaru USA #2 Dave Mirra would also retire after a crash on SS6.
Super Production honors would not go to Travis Hanson as Ramana Lagemann would claim the top step. However, Hanson would lodge a protest against Lagemann for car legality. Regardless of the outcome, Hanson is that much closer to clinching the 2011 Super Production Championship.
Andrew ‘ACP’ Comrie-Picard (Doug’s hero) would give Scion a 2WD win at the trail. ACP finished 26 seconds ahead of Mazda Speed driver Wyatt Knox. Third would go to Dillon Van Way and his Ford Fiesta. The 2WD championship has produced some fantastic rally and a very close points battle between Know and Van Way. Add ACP in the mix and 2WD will promise to have even better action for the remainder of this year.
So there we have it. Another Monday Service Park in the books after a very exciting weekend of competition at both home and abroad. Be sure to keep it here as we continue to cover the WRC, Rally America, and IRC titles through the summer.