Well, it was a great rally and everybody drove hard, but there’s no stopping Sebastien Loeb. He has been unstoppable for the last two years, and this WRC has been no different. But hot on his heels is Mikko Hirvonen, only 9/100th’s of a second behind Loeb. Chris Atkinson stepped up his driving skills to finish third on the podium, his first time finishing in the top tier at Rally Finland. Petter Solberg didn’t get any breaks during this rally, facing suspension problems and failures, was able to finish 6th behind Dani Sordo and Petter’s brother, Henning Solberg. Full results can be found here -> Rally Finland Results
This year’s WRC is turning into a duel between Mikko and Loeb, with Mikko just 2 points ahead of Loeb in the Driver’s Championship. Next up is Rallye Deutschland on August 15th. Loeb won it in 2007, but will he be able to do it again? Check back in two weeks to see who pulls ahead in the upcoming high speed all-asphalt Rally!
The Pikes Peak International Hill Climb was last weekend. This epic race is held at Pikes Peak in Colorado Springs and has been called a “Race to the Clouds” for good reason; 12.4 miles long, climbing 4,720 vertical feet to the summit while navigating 156 twisty turns up a half tarmac, half gravel road. The hill climb is exciting to say the least, as you’ll see anything from imports, european, and domestic cars as well as bikes, ATV’s, and semi-truck freight liners pushing their hardest to get up the mountain. I was there in ’05 and ’06, both times perched 75 feet above the hairpin turn at the end a long traverse across the mountain side. This area is known as “Devil’s Playground” and it features some of the best views of the hill climb, although there are trade-offs to choosing the Playground as a vantage point; in ’05, it snowed on us halfway through the race, and yes, it was July. But even so, it was worth every moment.
The current record time up the mountain was set by Nobuhiro Tajima in 2007, with a time of 10:01. But instead of bringing you his record breaking run, I want to show you an expertly shot (and edited) video of Robby Unser’s record breaking run in his 1000 horsepower Puegot 405 from 1990. It’s a little long, but it is an amazing video that should give you an idea of how ballsy these guys really are!
This has been an amazing year for the World Rally Championship. Mikko Hirvonen has the lead on Sebastien Loeb, but only by three points. These two have dominated the 2008 WRC, with 59 and 56 points respectively. Third place is currently held by Jari-Matti Latvala with only 34 points. Petter Solberg holds 6th place with 20 points, but he is the real wild card here. Over the last few years, he’s been riddled with car problems, time penalties, and general bad luck…. but his luck could change quickly with the arrival of his new car. The first time Solberg drove his new whip, he finished 2nd place at Rally Acropolis.
Rallying in the WRC since 1998, Petter has 13 wins under his belt and is the 2003 FIA WRC Drivers World Champion. He also came runner-up in ’04 and ’05, which should tell you that he truly is a world-class driver. You’ll be hard pressed to find rally on TV in the US, so check back next week for the results of Rally Finland.
This is really BIG news in the racing world for Subaru, one of the biggest names in the World Rally Championship. Why is this such good news? Subaru has had a rough run in the WRC over the last two years…Petter Solberg, their lead driver, has had tons of car problems, bad luck on the race courses, and even trouble from the WRC Officials. Petter is regarded as one of the best drivers in the world but in the last season he couldn’t finish in the top three to save his life. But Subaru knows they have one of the best drivers, so they just produced a better car for him to drive. The new Subaru WRC car is a hatchback, the ideal body style for drifting in mud, dirt, snow, and tarmac. The 2.0 liter 4-cylinder boxer engine produces 300 horsepower, per WRC regulations, but also manages to crank out 480 ft. lbs. of torque! This new monster is just what Petter needed to get back on top, shown by him finishing 2nd place overall driving a new car in the toughest rally of the WRC. The Acropolis Rally is in Greece, characterized by loose dirt and big rocks. This means there is little grip on the track and even littler room for error. Yet Solberg was able to keep it together and finish second, although Sebastian Loeb still reigns supreme in his Citroen.
Next up is Rally Turkey and I look forward to seeing Petter on the podium with another trophy in his hands. For those who are interested, make sure to check out the pics of the new Subie below.