When Solà got his chance to shine in Spain

The 2002 JWRC champion scored his best ever WRC result on his home event

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This week, rallying returns to Costa Brava in Spain. Historic machinery will descend on classic stages that once featured regularly on Spain’s World Rally Championship round before its move south to Costa Daurada.

Rewind 20 years and those roads were no fun jaunt for Dani Solà. The machinery was current rather than retro and the stakes were as high as they’d ever been.

The 2002 junior world champion was finally getting a chance to take on his home round of the WRC in a top-level factory car. And it really was a home event: he’s Catalan.

That’s why this week’s Girardo Picture of the Week is Solà on an iconic stage: flinging his Mitsubishi Lancer WRC 04 underneath the Viaducte d’Osormort.

Rally Catalunya - Costa Brava

Solà made three WRC starts in 2004, but his outing in Spain was surely the highlight

Sadly the viaduct will not be tackled in anger by the historic crews in Costa Brava this week. But they will be very close to it on the Collsaplana test, which once formed much of the La Roca, Viladrau and Sant Julia stages for which the overpass became famous for being part of.

For Solà this was a culmination of years of grafting up the ladder. He’d been backed through the years by Spanish federation RACC and the local lad was finally given the keys to a works-spec WRC machine on his home event.

He did about as well as he could: while defending Rally Spain winner Gilles Panizzi in the lead Lancer slid down the leaderboard after a series of poor tire choices, it was the less experienced Solà leading Mitsubishi’s charge.

Sixth place would transpire to be Solà’s career-best WRC result. And, surely, threading his Lancer through the famous hairpin underneath Viaducte d’Osormort, filled with Catalan fans, will have been the highlight. Yes, they were there primarily for Carlos Sainz’s farewell. But for one weekend, Solà got to be a home hero too.