Loeb, after building a SIZEABLE lead, as always, slid sideways into a one-land bridge yesterday, losing 50+ seconds trying to: first, get his car un-speared from the bridge's railing, second, get his car back on the road, and third, get his door back on the car. This put him in fourth, right behind the legendary Peter Solberg, the kid who is younger than me Jari-Matti Latvala, and the surprised and super stoked Sebastien Ogier. Ogier had never outright won a WRC event, Latvala had won three, Solberg had won 13 times with 1 championship, and Loeb, well, he had 57 wins and the last six consecutive championships, 2004-2009, and he was second in 2003. He is the Michael Schumacher of the WRC. To say he dominates WRC would be a gargantuan understatement.
This is what I like about racing, these type situations: new blood, underrated cars, old blood, and front-running cars all going head to head.
So Loeb drove brilliantly, making it back up to second place, 5.3 seconds down at the end of yesterday. That was some of the best driving I have ever seen. Loeb is amazing and he proved it beyond a shadow of a doubt yesterday. But today was a new day - only four stages. Ogier kept his lead until Loeb overtook him, but Loeb had an off and Ogier and Latvala got past. Ogier was barely holding off Latvala in the sole Ford in the top five. In the final stage, the second round run over the same trail, Ogier spun on the third-to-last corner and Latvala squeaked by with a 2.4 second advantage, the second lowest winning split ever in WRC. The first was Grunholm besting Loeb in 2007 by .3 seconds, oddly enough, also in New Zealand.
Bravo WRC. Bravo. Good show! Loeb needs to lose more.
And Latvala's win makes Ford the winningest marque in WRC history. Ford has just become the winningest marque in WRC history!