History was made at last week’s Central European Rally. Any ideas?
Kalle Rovanperä becoming the second youngest winner of the World Rally Championship? No. And that’s not because it doesn’t count if you break your own record.
Was it CER having the biggest spread of ages for drivers in WRC history?
No. But that’s an interesting one. The difference was 60 years between Fabio Schwarz at 18 and Henk Vossen at 78.
The real history made in Passau was Hyundai’s victory – which made it the first time three different Rally1 cars have won on three consecutive rounds of the WRC. Thierry Neuville’s success followed Ott Tänak’s Chile win and Rovanperä’s Greek victory last month.
What does that tell us?
It tells us the FIA’s pretty much bang on with these current technical regulations. It’s time for a big slap on the back for the governing body – and a second one for Hyundai’s tech department dream team of Christian Loriaux and F-X Demaison. Remember Monte last year?
Now, if you want to head down the road of semantics, you would possibly point to Rovanperä taking his foot off the gas once a barn door got in the way of Elfyn Evans’ title hopes, but don’t forget Kalle made the mistake on stage 10. Had Evans kept the Yaris off the woodwork, who’s to say what would have happened?
Neuville’s pretty clear on where his title fight went south: “Kalle has been without any technical issues this season, not a single one and that’s three versus zero for us. That’s a lot of points lost for us.”
Yes, Hyundai might have some work left on the reliability side, but in terms of performance – we can take it as read that it’s there right now. All three of them are. You can’t say Tänak hasn’t shown pace where the car’s allowed.
Now the FIA just needs to keep a very firm hand on where the technical regulations are. Now we’ve got all three very much in the same performance ballpark, we want to keep them there.
Of course, all of the above is focused very much on the machinery. The crews are another matter. Kalle and Jonne made the difference this year. Next year, the best of the rest need to up their game.