MOTORSPORT /// WRC /// 2014 RALLY POLAND (26.6.2014 – 29.6.2014) /// UNWANTED COMMENTARY: SHALL WE DO THIS LIVE? /// SS24…

  • Good morning.
  • Rally Poland.
  • SS24.
  • Power Stage.
  • MAVTV in the US.
  • …Where it is 5am (locally).
  • Let’s do this.
  • SS24 is a revisiting of SS15.
  • …Baranowo.
  • …Which is 14.9km (about 9.3mi).
  • It is the Power Stage.
  • …In 2014, the Power Stage must be the final stage.
  • …And, what that means is that the top three get bonus points.
  • …The best time gets three, second gets two, third gets one.
  • Going into this stage, your leaders are…
  • …Volkswagen Motorsport’s Ogier/Ingrassia.
  • …Volkswagen Motorsport II’s Mikkelsen/Fløene.
  • …Hyundai Shell World Rally Team’s Neuville/Gilsoul.
  • …And, M-Sport’s Hirvonen/Lehtinen.
  • …Welcome back to the mix, everyone but Ogier/Ingrassia.
  • Reports were that there was a bit of rain overnight.
  • …And, the skies are looking a bit threatening.
  • …However, the road looks okay.
  • …Neither submerged, nor rutted to magma.
  • M-Sport’s Evans/Barritt on stage.
  • …Evans goes into SS24 in 27th place.
  • …You have to go way down the list to see Evans’ name under SS15.
  • Saturday was an interesting day for a lot of people.
  • …Including this next guy.
  • RK M-Sport’s Kubica/Szczepaniak take the stage.
  • …The former F1 star from Krakow ended his Saturday in a folding captain’s chair by the side of the road.
  • …He escaped a roll into a ditch on Friday with little more than a cracked windshield.
  • …But, his luck ran out as Saturday came around.
  • …However, he was able to complete SS15 in 10th.
  • …And, he finishes round two and, thus, the rally.
  • …Take that as a win, Bobert.
  • …Remember that this -is- his first season in a WRC car.
  • …And, that he is (essentially) driving one-handed.
  • …If you’re unaware, Kubica’s car is modified to work with an injury sustained while rallying 2011.
  • …The injury ended his F1 career after partially severing his right arm.
  • …Then, as he was about to attempt a return to rallying, he slipped on some ice and broke his leg.
  • …Of course, because, that’s how life rolls.
  • …Anyone who doesn’t believe in luck is a little suspicious.
  • …I think men are more prone to that, as they’ve never (cross-dressers, etc, aside) jabbed themselves in the eye with a mascara wand while calmly doing their daily routine.
  • …Anyway…
  • …He bounced back and he bounced back hard.
  • …Complete with high-highs and low-lows.
  • …Like the bouncy ball that humans are.
  • …My two cents?
  • …He’s got it and he’ll get it.
  • Jipocar Czech National Team’s Fiona the Fiesta crosses the line.
  • …With her boys, Martin Prokop and Jan Tománek.
  • …The trio went into this in (overall) 10th.
  • …Never underestimate Prokop.
  • …As a privateer, he may not (always) be a podium challenger.
  • …But, the guy knows how and when to pull back to preserve a solid finish (in tact – as they don’t have the budgets of the big teams to make major repair investments, preferably with points).
  • …Which is a massive asset in rally.
  • Privateers Solberg/Minor complete the stage.
  • …They went into this in ninth.
  • …Solberg finished the 2009 trip to Poland in third.
  • Hyundai Motorsport N’s resident Kiwis, Paddon/Kennard on stage.
  • …They stand in eighth (overall).
  • …And, finished SS15 in seventh.
  • …And, they’re through.
  • …Another WRC rally in the books.
  • Also through is Citroën Total Abu Dhabi’s Meeke/Nagle.
  • …Who came into the stage in seventh.
  • Hyundai’s Hänninen/Tuominen, across the finish line.
  • …They finished SS15 in fifth.
  • …They stand in sixth (overall).
  • Volkswagen Motorsport’s Latvala/Anttila on stage.
  • …The Finns stand in fifth (overall).
  • …They were contenders at the top, until a rock put the front-left suspension through the hood of the car.
  • …Look it up.
  • …Jerry Matt’s view through SS15 was a spring.
  • …And, the Jer-Bear finishes Rally Poland.
  • …Which he was not able to do in 2009.
  • …A rough ride for the big guy, but it didn’t end in tears.
  • …Again, look it up.
  • M-Sport’s Hirvonen/Lehtinen on stage.
  • …The guys are on fire.
  • …Fortunately, not literally (this time).
  • …They stand in fourth (overall).
  • …And, were sixth through SS15.
  • …Another rally down for Mike and Jim.
  • …As Jer-Bear nerds it up at the finish.
  • …Has anyone told him that they’ve been broadcasting his reactions at the end of (almost) every rally?
  • …No, I mean, it’s charming, I love it.
  • …Clearly.  I’ve been celebrating his delicious awkwardness since I started covering the WRC.
  • …I’m just wondering if he’s aware.
  • …Remember when he jumped right into a camera at Monte-Carlo?
  • …He must know and just be immune to it at this point, right?
  • Hyundai’s Neuville/Gilsoul on stage.
  • …They finished SS15 in third and stand in (overall) third.
  • …Extra sweet, after a little brake failure on Friday.
  • …Which led to a tiny fire just past time control.
  • …Enough with the fire, WRC.
  • …Please?
  • …The Belgians finish and finish amazingly well.
  • …With Thierry’s dad, spraying the car as it crosses the line.
  • …Watch out for Hyundai.
  • …It appears their car is ready.
  • …Halfway through its debut season.
  • …Not bad, not bad at all.
  • VWII’s Mikkelsen/Fløene on stage.
  • …Like the Belgians, the Norwegians mirrored SS15 and overall results.
  • …They complete the stage, finish the rally, and Mikkelsen takes his second second of the season.
  • …Sweden being his first WRC podium ever.
  • …However, he climbed on that podium with Mikko Markkula.
  • …So, congrats to Ola on his first WRC podium in the Polo R WRC.
  • A quick in and out for VW’s Ogier/Ingrassia.
  • …Gogiera wins the stage, wins the rally, and hugs his parents.
  • SS24…
  • …Ogier/Ingrassia, Mikkelsen/Fløene, Latvala/Anttila, Neuville/Gilsoul.
  • And, the final results for the 71st Rally Poland…
  • …Ogier/Ingrassia, Mikkelsen/Fløene, Neuville/Gilsoul, Hirvonen/Lehtinen.
  • …The fifth win in 2014 for Ogier/Ingrassia.
  • …The second second for Mikkelsen.
  • …The first podium for Fløene in the Polo R WRC.
  • …The second podium/second third for Neuville, Gilsoul, and the i20 WRC.
  • That was a very lovely, if not a bit too exciting return to Poland.
  • …It had rain, rocks, cancelled stages, hideously heartbreaking exits, and some overdue returnees to the podium.
  • …Let’s not go another five+ years without it, okay?
  • …Cool.
  • While I’m agreeing for people…
  • …Let’s just ignore anything poopy that comes out of Jer-Bear’s mouth.
  • …He’s the Charlie Brown of the WRC.
  • …He gets a rock and has to be followed by sad music.
  • …Let’s just be clear, the guy is always going to be his own worst enemy.
  • …He will learn to manage the downs better, but it will always be a problem.
  • …So, let’s not hang on every Sad Sad Jerry Matt comment.
  • …Honestly, he seems fine.  Management is going extremely well.
  • …To quote the movie ‘Home for the Holidays’…
  • …(swapping “she/her” for “he/his”)…
  • …”He feels his feelings when he feels them; he’ll bounce back.”
  • …Just look at the amazing season he’s having.
  • …Two wins and the only (real) challenger to Ogier.
  • …At the midseason point, they’re in their own class.
  • …Followed by Mikkelsen.
  • …Making it a very healthy atmosphere to be surrounded by.
  • …Mikkelsen being alarmingly attractive, aside, of course.
  • …(At least he’s funny, likable, and has that dorky laugh, eh?)
  • …And, don’t forget that the Man from the Land of Luck has sisu.
  • …He can handle a fight, even if it’s with himself.
  • …Things are good in Jer-Bear land.
  • …He’s (only) 29 and his career is (still) moving upward.
  • …Jerry Matt is going to keep rocking it.
  • …And doing so in his own, weird, awkward, dorky way.
  • On a related note…
  • …Never forget that there is (always) more to the standings than meets the eye.
  • …Numbers never lie, because they never tell the whole story.
  • …There was a lot of bad luck in the clouds over Rally Poland.
  • …Take a look at who survived.
  • …Notice that all three Hyundais finished without serious incident and with points in their maiden season.
  • …Notice that Meeke/Nagle and Hirvonen/Lehtinen bounced back from bizarre mechanicals at Italy.
  • …Notice that Kubica/Szczepaniak kept going.
  • …And, that the local hero gave the fans a thrill of a lifetime.
  • …Notice that Prokop finished with points while (still) recovering from a back injury.
  • …Notice that Solberg finished ninth, in a partial season, after years of token events.
  • …They guy’s (still) got it.
  • …At 41-years-old.
  • …Which isn’t old, but isn’t common in the WRC, either.
  • …Never forget to take things like this into account.
  • …It’s stuff like this that makes rally such an incredible sport.
  • …Every rally is a story in a series; every stage, a chapter.
  • And, I think I will wrap this up on that note.
  • …Before venturing (back) into the shallow end.
  • The end of Rally Poland marks the end of the first half of the 2014 season.
  • …Which translates to the start of summer break for the WRC.
  • Next up will be…
  • …deep breath of anticipatory excitement…
  • …Rally Finland.
  • …Which will kick off with a battle of the classics and the currents on the streets of Helsinki.
  • …If you can get there, do.
  • …Though the iconic Ouninpohja has been scrapped this year…
  • …due to the incredible logistics of bringing the monster to life…
  • …rally organizers have revisited some old routes and tossed in a trip through the Jyväskylä city center.
  • …It’s going to be incredible.
  • …And, Finland is (already) incredible.
  • …So, if you can, do.
  • …And, if you can’t, please refrain from posting, “I wish I was there” all over social media.
  • …It’s obnoxiously transparent positive reinforcement bait.
  • …It’s either out of your hands (work, family, finances, etc) and you shouldn’t feel bad about it or in your hands and it’s your own fault.
  • …And, if you can’t take blunt, semi-insensitive, logic like that, I would rethink going to Scandinavia.
  • …However, if you -are- going, do NOT forget that extra race in Helsinki (ahead of the rally)!!!
  • …Anyway, either way you enjoy it, it’s going to be awesome.
  • …So, let that be your focus.
  • …Cool?
  • …Cool.
  • Have a lovely summer break!
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