Oh how harshly we misjudge cars. If anyone is under the impression that smaller, economical cars don’t have guts or aren’t “lustable” (whatever that means), you need to check out the attached pictures of last Sunday’s Rally race in New Zealand. Fans of WRC and the cars that they inspire certainly had to be pleased with the race which lived up to WRC’s reputation for providing some of the most exciting motorsport racing on the planet.
World Champion Sebastien Loeb won for the third time in as many races to win Rally New Zealand by 17.5 seconds last Sunday at the expense of Mikko Hirvonen who lost controland spun out on the second-to-last stage. The win increased his lead over Hirvonen the in the World Rally Championship. The win was Loeb’s 42nd in WRC rallies, aftervictories in Finland and Germany and his second in New Zealand, where he last one in 2005. Loeb’s one-two finish with teammate Dani Sordo of Spain also increased Citroen’s grip on the manufacturers’ championship.
Taking a look at both the manufacturer and driver results (listed below), it’s a shame not to see a single American in the list. Sure, this is the land of NASCAR and INDY (at least once a year), but you would still think Rally Racing would be a bigger hit in the States. Even as heavily modified as the cars are, they are certainly more closely related to actual production cars than anything from the previously mentioned racing leagues. And what could be more American than tearing ass around off-road? I mean the Dukes of Hazzard was basically a Rally Race with a couple of Good ‘Ole Boys in a Dodge! I can almost picture some kid from Alabama named Skeeter hoisting a trophy, surrounded by the Beck’s bikini team.
RESULTS FROM THE WRC RALLY OF NEW ZEALAND:
Final results and standings Sunday after the 18-stage Rally of New Zealand, 11th event in the World Championship: (After 18 special stages)
1. Sebastien Loeb, France, Citroen, 3 hours, 59 minutes, 18.9 seconds.
2. Dani Sordo, Spain, Citroen, 17.5 seconds behind.
3. Mikko Hirvonen, Finland, Ford, 41.5.
4. Petter Solberg, Norway, Subaru, 2:48.9.
5. Urmo Aava, Estonia, Citroen, 3:30.7.
6. Per-Gunnar Andersson, Sweden, Suzuki, 7:37.4.
7. Toni Gardemeister, Finland, Suzuki, 7:54.9.
8. Federico Villagra, Argentina, Ford, 8:35.0.
9. Henning Solberg, Norway, Ford, 9:15.2.
10. Martin Prokop, Czech Republic, Mitsubishi, 13:49.0.
Overall drivers’ championship standings after 11 of 15 rallies:
1. Sebastien Loeb, France, Citroen, 86 points.
2. Mikko Hirvonen, Finland, Ford, 78.
3. Dani Sordon, Spain, Citroen, 51.
4. Chris Atkinson, Australia, Subaru, 40.
5. Jari-Matti Latvala, Finland, Ford, 34.
6. Petter Solberg, Norway, Subaru, 32.
7. Henning Solberg, Norway, Ford, 22.
8. Gianluigi Galli, Italy, Ford, 17.
9. Matthew Wilson, Britain, Ford, 12.
10. Francois Duval, Belgium, Ford, and Urmo Aava, Estonia, Citroen, 11.