Tuesday, December 05, 2006

What is the legacy of WRC 2006?

With the completion of Wales Rally GB, the 2006 season of the World Rally Championship is over. How will it be remembered? After all, every season has a different complexion...

And then there were those great years in the late 90s when McRae and Makinen were fierce rivals, but had to fight against the likes Sainz, Didier Auriol and Juha Kankkunen.

On paper, 2006 was an exceptionally close battle between Gronholm and Loeb. In reality, Loeb needed four fewer events to reach his points total than Gronholm did. And what of the supporting cast? Solberg and Subaru were nowhere to be seen whilst a lack of truly competitve entries enabled drivers who previously struggled to 10th-place to get on the podium (stand up Manfred Stohl).

No, instead this may well be the year remembered for the breakout of two future champions, Mikko Hirvonen and Dani Sordo. Hirvonen showed that he's now learned control, pacing and strategy to go with his lightning Finnish speed. And Sordo's first year in a WRC car showed how incredibly quick he is although he'll need to go through a Hirvonen-style year of becoming a more well-rounded driver to eliminate silly mistakes like those he made in Finland (ouch) or Cyprus (twat).

Although I can't say for sure how we'll look back on 2006, there's very little doubt in my mind that the 2009 or 2010 WRC season will be remembered for an epic battle between Mikko Hirvonen and Dani Sordo.

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