The answer, I'm glad to report, is no. Well, at least for Loeb it wasn't. For once he found himself struggling to keep up with the front runners, with his Citroen destroying tyres to match the pace of the Fiestas. The man of the weekend was Latvala. He gained confidence quickly and was leading from early on. He stayed there for the whole rally and it was there that he finished. This was a great result for the Finn, as he showed Ford boss Malcolm Wilson that on his day he is the fastest in the world. His maturity is coming on, and his recent results are showing it. This result puts him in a great position for the championship now, with only 6 points separating Latvala in 5th and Solberg in 3rd.
It was Solberg who was battling with Loeb for second place. On several occasions it looked like it would be a Ford 1-2 finish. However this was not meant to be, and it was Loeb who eventually took second. There was not much in it; just 0.9 seconds after 3 days of rallying. This, for me, was the sport at its best. Both drivers pushing very hard in a fight for one position. Moreover, it was great to see Loeb having to work to earn his points. He is often the favourite before a rally even starts, but this time he showed us just why he has won so many titles. It took a lot of skill to do what he did, and all credit to him for that.
Although Solberg was disappointed on missing out on second, he also appreciated the challenge from Loeb, and was pleased for his Ford team-mate. In fourth place was Mads Ostberg. He has been by far the best privateer this season, and it would not at all surprise me to see him in a works car next season. He suffered with a misfire for a significant part of this rally, but maintained fourth nevertheless. Considering it was Mikko Hirvonen behind him, this was a great result.
Rounding off the top 10 we have Novikov, Neuville, Wilson, Prokop and Al-Attiyah.
Below you can find the championship standings for the drivers and manufacturers. The nest rally is Rallye De France Alsace, from the 4th-7th October.
Drivers Championship Standings
Manufacturers Championship Standings
|1.||Citroen Total World Rally Team||348|
|2.||Ford World Rally Team||237|
|3.||M-Sport Ford World Rally Team||123|
|4.||Qatar World Rally Team||63|
|5.||Adapta World Rally Team||61|
|6.||Citroen Junior World Rally Team||60|
|7.||MINI WRC Team||26|
|8.||Brazil World Rally Team||20|