Motor Sport News - - F1 Retro - MCLAREN F1 STATS Wins: Poles: Fastest laps: 152 Driv­ers’ cham­pi­onships: Con­struc­tors’ cham­pi­onships:

Ayr­ton Senna (r) Alain Prost Lewis Hamil­ton Mika Hakki­nen David Coulthard James Hunt Kimi Raikko­nen Jen­son But­ton Niki Lauda Denny Hulme

and I’m not af­fect­ing their cham­pi­onship?

“Ogier said to me be­fore the rally: ‘Come on Kris, if Loeb comes here for one rally, he will make us look stupid…’ Who gives a s*** if Loeb comes here for one rally? I want to win a world cham­pi­onship. I don’t care if Loeb wants to do one rally. What does it mat­ter? Even if he comes and does four ral­lies, he’s not go­ing to win the cham­pi­onship.

“You know the prob­lem?” that one was rhetor­i­cal, the an­swer wasn’t long in com­ing.

“It’s Ogier’s ego. It’s not Ogier. It’s his ego. Who gives a s*** if Loeb wins one rally? It’s af­fect­ing his ego. He [Ogier] thinks he is the great­est. I’m sorry, I’m a poor lit­tle driver in a pri­vate team and I’m do­ing the times. But he’s afraid of Loeb com­ing and win­ning one rally and ev­ery­body think­ing Loeb’s bet­ter than him.”

In black and white that might look like a rant. It wasn’t. Meeke’s opin­ion came against a back­drop of Volk­swa­gen folk call­ing for rule change and a reg­u­la­tion stat­ing any WRC part-timers should start at the front of the field to sweep the streets for those en­gaged in a sea­son-long bat­tle.

Meeke’s ar­gu­ment was a wider-rang­ing one that just hap­pened to cen­tre it­self on Ogier. The point be­ing: for­get about him this year, he’s a bit-player. If he picks up a win or half a re­sult here or there, all well and good, his role is not a star­ring one. Not un­til next year.

And an­other thing, for all the talk of clean­ing, Meeke pon­dered why those around him weren’t ben­e­fit­ing to the same ex­tent. He was right. When they were run­ning and run­ning clean, the likes of Jari-matti Lat­vala and Thierry Neuville, sixth and eighth on the road re­spec­tively, weren’t show­ing the same kind of pro­gres­sive gains.

Meeke’s ques­tion was a per­fectly rea­son­able one. His laid­back de­meanour ap­peared to pro­vide part of the an­swer.

“I don’t think,” he said on Satur­day, “I’ve ever felt more com­fort­able in the car. It’s flow­ing. It feels like it’s com­ing eas­ily.”

He’d come to this event with zero ex­pec­ta­tion and even less pres­sure. From such sit­u­a­tions, wins are cre­ated. But you still have to be brave and when you’re brave, for­tune favours you.

Stage five be­ing a case in point. Meeke was de­nied his sec­ond run at Ponte de Lima af­ter Hay­den Pad­don crashed, caught fire and then Ott Tanak crashed into the fire ( see Rally News, pages 12-13).

So, a no­tional time. But what no­tional time? The WRC’S sport­ing reg­u­la­tions state such a de­ci­sion rests with the clerk of the course. Step for­ward Pe­dro Almeida. Almeida handed Meeke a stage win to the tune of 5.2s. For the first time in his ca­reer, he bagged a scratch time with­out turn­ing a wheel. Pre­dictably, sec­ond quick­est Dani Sordo felt a touch ag­grieved.

Almeida ex­plained: “We looked at the cars that did run through SS5 and com­pared them to the first run in the morn­ing. One driver was a lot quicker and one was a lot slower, we re­moved these ex­trem­i­ties from the cal­cu­la­tion. Then we added up the dif­fer­ence in times for the cars that were slower, which came to 26 sec­onds. We took away the dif­fer­ence from the cars that were quicker, which was 6.4s. We di­vided the

■ SS1 SSS Lou­sada (2.09 miles) Fastest: Ogier 2m41.1s Leader: Ogier Sec­ond: Neuville +0.9s

■ SS2 Ponte de Lima 1 (17.05 miles) Fastest: Meeke 19m17.8s Leader: Meeke Sec­ond: Ogier +3.5s

Con­tin­ued from page 23

Be­hind the all-con­quer­ing Emer­ald is­lan­ders, a Volk­swa­gen bat­tle was brew­ing nicely.

Apart from a Fri­day af­ter­noon pur­ple patch that el­e­vated Sordo to sec­ond, Ogier had been in the run­ner-up spot from SS2.

De­spite his prom­ise of a live­lier start than the one he’d man­aged last time out in Ar­gentina, An­dreas Mikkelsen had failed to find con­fi­dence with the car. He sought more sup­port from the car in the cor­ners. Richard Browne of­fered en­gi­neer­ing sup­port on Fri­day night and by Satur­day morn­ing, aided by a sug­ges­tion from the team that he might like to crack on a lit­tle bit, last year’s Catalunya win­ner tore at the stages like a man pos­sessed.

For the rest of the rally, he was first or sec­ond quick­est on all but two stages – and never lower than fourth.

Sordo was heaved out of third and now the chase was on for the big one: blue leader Ogier. Satur­day night, just 3.1s split them. Surely not? Oh yes. First stage on Sun­day and Mikkelsen was up to sec­ond, with an eye to a book­ing for a place on cloud nine.

Ogier’s rally went from bad to worse, with a slow punc­ture for nine miles in SS16.

“We can’t take the risk,” he said. “We have only one spare.” He sat mo­men­tar­ily and stared straight ahead, look­ing a lit­tle bit like a man who might have pre­ferred to be else­where.

“I just can’t risk an­other punc­ture and no points here.”

The no-risk strat­egy was waived for the pow­er­stage, where he lifted three points. But this par­tic­u­lar bat­tle, had been won by Mikkelsen.

“I told you this morn­ing,” he said at the fin­ish. “This would feel like a win for me if I beat Seb. It does. It re­ally does. I was so dis­ap­pointed with Fri­day. I sat down with Jost [Capito] and with Richard and we talked about things, but af­ter that ev­ery­thing has worked. The car was just like I wanted it and I could re­ally push.”

Ogier con­grat­u­lated his team-mate on a job well done and smiled at Meeke’s sug­ges­tion that he’d ac­tu­ally done the cham­pi­onship leader a favour.

“If I wasn’t here, you would have lost more points,” Meeke told the third-placed man, high­light­ing the dif­fer­ence of seven points be­tween first and sec­ond and only three be­tween sec­ond and third.

“It’s true,” said Ogier, “my lead is big­ger again in the cham­pi­onship and, when I can­not fight for the win, my ob­jec­tive is to make my lead big­ger. I have done this again, so I have to be happy.” I. Have. To. Be. Happy. Those were not words that came eas­ily to the cham­pion on Sun­day af­ter­noon.

But, for the cham­pi­onship, the re­sult rewrote 16-year-old his­tory. The last time we had four dif­fer­ent win­ners in suc­ces­sive WRC rounds was 2004. For Pet­ter Sol­berg, Se­bastien Loeb, Car­los Sainz and Mar­cus Gron­holm read the class of 2016: Ogier, Lat­vala, Pad­don and Meeke.

What price for a fifth win­ner next time out in Sar­dinia? If Mikkelsen or Sordo can recre­ate their Por­tuguese pace, it’s ab­so­lutely pos­si­ble.

Be­fore then, set­tle back and revel in what has to be one of the WRC’S best-played cameo roles.


Kris Meeke (GBR)/PAUL Na­gle (IRL) An­dreas Mikkelsen (Nor)/an­ders Jager Syn­nevaag (NOR) Se­bastien Ogier (Fra)/julien In­gras­sia (FRA) Dani Sordo (ESP)/MARC Marti (ESP) Eric Camilli (FRA)/ Ben­jamin Veil­las (FRA) Jari-matti Lat­vala (FIN)/ Mi­ikka Anttila (FIN) Mads Ost­berg (NOR)/OLA Floene (NOR) Martin Prokop (CZE)/JAN To­manek (CZE) Pon­tus Tide­mand (Swe)/jonas An­der­s­son (SWE) Ni­co­las Fuchs (Per)/fer­nando Mus­sano (ARG) Yazeed Al-ra­jhi (Ksa)/michael Orr (GBR) Khalid Al Qas­simi (Uae)/chris Pat­ter­son (GBR) Hen­ning Sol­berg (NOR)/ILKA Mi­nor-pe­trasko (AUT) Thierry Neuville (BEL)/ Ni­co­las Gil­soul (BEL) Stephane Le­feb­vre (Fra)/gabin Moreau (FRA) Va­leriy Gor­ban (Ukr)/volodymyr Korsya (UKR) Jaroslav Melicharek (SVK)/ Erik Melicharek (SVK) Kevin Ab­bring (Ned)/se­bas­tian Mar­shall (GBR) Hay­den Pad­don (NZL)/JOHN Ken­nard (NZL) Ott Tanak (Est)/raigo Molder (EST)

Reign­ing world cham­pion Jen­son But­ton joins Mclaren to part­ner Hamil­ton and wins round two in change­able con­di­tions in Mel­bourne.the Bri­ton, now in his sev­enth sea­son with Mclaren, has scored eight wins with the team.

Af­ter sev­eral lean years, Mclaren pro­duces the fastest car of 2005, but re­li­a­bil­ity is­sues mean the MP4-20 misses out on both ti­tles. Juan Pablo Mon­toya nev­er­the­less leads home Kimi Raikko­nen at In­ter­la­gos in the team’s first 1-2 since 2000.

Hav­ing backed Lewis Hamil­ton since he was a young karter, Mclaren gives the Bri­ton his F1 de­but in 2007 and Hamil­ton fol­lows up five podi­ums in his first five starts with vic­tory num­ber one at Mon­treal in the MP4-22.

Hakki­nen and the MP4/14 qual­ify on pole for 11 GPS, but mishaps al­low Fer­rari’s Ed­die Irvine to stay in con­tention. Hakki­nen nev­er­the­less beats Irvine and Schu­macher to suc­cess­fully de­fend his crown.

Sordo was a fine fourth in his i20

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