It’s been something of a team week – they’re either on the top of the world and united, or backstabbing each other to destruction. You can probably guess what’s coming next then…
King of The Hill – Citroen
Walking into Sebastian Loeb’s home, you could easily imagine his floors would be paved with asphalt – he loves the stuff that much. Bulgaria was no exception – he led home a trio of sidekicks (Sordo/Solberg/Ogier) to completely and utterly trounce the blue oval. The last Finn to win on tarmac was Marcus Gronholm, and he hated the stuff – so you could imagine the less experienced duo of Hirvonen and Latvala were going to struggle.
However another Finn could have compounded their misery further still – Kimi Raikkonen was on his best rally form ever and holding the works Fords at bay in 5th place until he crashed out on the final stage of the first day. It was no wonder he did – he was matching Loeb’s split times in the stage until his accident.
The future is still bright for Citroen and their new generation of drivers – as long as the new DS3 WRC is a good car, we could see Loeb and Ogier (should he stay at Citroen) win every world title for the next 10 years.
Rising Up – David Reutimann
Reuty may already have had a Coca-Cola 600 victory under his belt – but only because a rain delay coupled with his unusual strategy meant he happened to be leading when the race was cancelled. This time however, he earned victory at Chicagoland Speedway.
He hounded Jeff Gordon for much of the race, but eventually the pitstops made it easier for him to pass the four time champion. Carl Edwards was his closest rival near the end, but traffic ended any hopes he had of stealing the win from Reutimann.
The often forgotten half of MWR is finally back to his best.
Midfield Mediocrity – Red Bull
Red Bull have undoubtedly had a mixed weekend – Webber may have won the race, but he did it while giving team principal Christian Horner the metaphorical middle finger.
At this point Red Bull is reaching the point of no return – they have two options left; firstly, the RBR management realises the error of their ways, starts treating their drivers equally and all is well once again, or, the more likely outcome, the team continues to treat Webber like a bag of sh*t, leaving him no choice but to move to Renault, while Vettel’s ego continues to grow at an astronomical rate, and Horner still insists both driver were given equal treatment.
Red Bull may have a good enough car to continue winning races – but with this kind of team management, they will never win any championships.
Feeling Blue – Ford
The opposite half of the WRC was bound to be down near the foot of the list after the thrashing handed out by arch rivals Citroen – and while their two Finns were never going to be a match for Loeb, they hardly put up a fight at all. The team and the drivers seem demotivated – it’s reached the point the Citroen second string is beating the factory Fords, and the only reaso n Ford are still 2nd in the teams championship is thanks to Raikkonen’s lack of points. Otherwise, they would have been suffering from one of their worst seasons for several years. Rally Sweden seems like a long, long time ago now.
Rock Bottom – Craig Lowndes
Surprisingly someone suffered a worse weekend than the Blue Oval did – a 5th and a 6th place looks like a brilliant result in comparison to what the Aussie managed at Townsville last weekend.
Getting involved in too many incidents meant Lowndes ended the meeting with a 26th (and last place) finish along with a race two DNF, after a mix-up under yellow flags caused him to plough into the rear of Courtney’s Jim Beam Racing Falcon.
Those two results confirmed something that was pretty evident to start with anyway: Jamie Whincup is the undisputed king of Team Vodafone. The former champion just cannot find a reply to his younger team-mate’s unrelenting speed – the only man that has drives for the ‘enemy’; Ford’s James Courtney.
It doesn’t look like such an awful weekend for the Blue Oval after all.