MOTORSPORT /// WRC /// 2014 RALLY FRANCE (2.10.2014 – 5.10.2014) /// UNWANTED COMMENTARY: SHALL WE DO THIS LIVE? /// SS18…

  • Good…
  • …Morning?
  • I don’t know.
  • I started F1 Japanese Grand Prix commentary at 12:30am.
  • It is (now) 5am.
  • Japan…didn’t go well.
  • …I won’t get into it (here), but my commentary is up.
  • …A few posts back.
  • This is Rallye de France-Alsace.
  • …The 11th round of the 13-round 2014 WRC season.
  • And, this is the 18th and final stage.
  • …Making this the Power Stage.
  • …Which means bonus points for the top three finishers of the stage.
  • …Three for first, two for second, one for third.
  • The stage is 19.36km long (a tad over 12 miles).
  • …Quite long for a Power Stage.
  • …But, cool.
  • Volkswagen’s Ogier/Ingrassia start things off.
  • …After Friday’s spin/mechanicals/time penalty, the duo stands in 18th (overall).
  • …So, they will not be taking their championships today.
  • …They did, however, win the first loop of this stage.
  • …So, there’s that.
  • …Aaannnd, if my brain is remembering correctly, Ogier won his 300th stage.
  • …But, then again, I spilled some coffee, used a towel to clean it up, and couldn’t figure out if I had a towel in my hand (or, not).
  • …I’ve been more alert, I’ve been less alert.
  • Indie darling Fiona the Fiesta heads out onto the stage.
  • …With her boys, Prokop and Tománek.
  • …The trio is in 11th.
  • …Out of WRC points.
  • …They finished the first loop in 12th.
  • …But, as always, rockin’ it like no privateer should.
  • Hyundai’s Bouffier and Panseri head out.
  • …Keeping things local.
  • …Keeping things Bouffier.
  • …They are in 10th (overall)
  • …And, took 11th through the first loop.
  • …It -is- Panseri co-driving, right?
  • …Not his dog?
  • …Okay, go to Bouffier’s official Facebook page, scroll through the photos, and check out his dog.
  • …He has a King Charles Cavalier.
  • …You know, those sappy looking spaniels girls who collect Precious Moments figurines and need clingy, cutesy relationships love.
  • …Yeah.
  • …And, it looks like it owns him.
  • …Which makes it endearing and all-around hilarious.
  • …Has anyone else caught this?
  • Moving on…
  • Hyundai’s Neuville/Gilsoul take the stage.
  • …They are in ninth (overall).
  • …And, he took ninth in the first loop.
  • …Sure, why not?
  • …Neuville took the win at the first of the three gravel rounds.
  • …Deutschland.
  • …But, will not be making it 2/2.
  • Quick weather overview…
  • …It is 59 (Fahrenheit)/15 (Celsius).
  • …And, a bit foggy.
  • …So, Rally France weather.
  • …No torrential rain, so that’s nice.
  • M-Sport’s Evans/Barritt on stage.
  • …They are in eighth (overall).
  • …And, came in second through the first loop.
  • …Just remember that his Fiesta failed on Friday and the pair opted to push the car to the finish line, taking a time penalty over retirement.
  • …So, not bad for the rookie.
  • …Also remember that (boss) Wilson gave him the go-ahead to put his foot down and drive how he wants through these final three rounds.
  • …After a season dedicated to making it through safely, getting some points, and (most importantly) learning.
  • Citroën’s Østberg/Andersson on stage.
  • …Seventh overall.
  • …After a fuel issue (yesterday).
  • …They took fourth through the first loop.
  • …Ooo-but, have a tiny close call this round.
  • …Back on track, moving swiftly.
  • M-Sport’s Hirvonen/Lehtinen head out.
  • …Sixth overall.
  • …Tied for fifth in the first loop.
  • …Jarmo, yelling notes to people in Chile.
  • The stage ends in Candyland, by the way.
  • Hyundai’s Sordo/Martí on stage.
  • …Fifth overall.
  • …Tied with Neuville/Gilsoul for eighth in the first round.
  • …And, he came in second at Deutschland.
  • …After winning that one the previous year and following it with second at France.
  • …Sordo is a notorious sealed surface expert.
  • RK M-Sport’s Kubica/Szczepaniak.
  • …Fourth overall.
  • …Third through the first loop.
  • …A fantastic rally for the jinxed former F1 driver.
  • …Oh, which has just ended.
  • …Oh, my god.
  • …Are you serious?
  • …They’ve run off and into a tree.
  • …Oh, for crying out loud.
  • …Well…
  • …Yeah…
  • So, Sordo/Martí move up to fourth (overall).
  • Citroën’s Meeke/Nagle head out.
  • …They’re in third.
  • …Seventh through the first loop.
  • …Protecting his podium position.
  • Volkswagen’s Jerry Matt and Anttila are on stage.
  • …On their merry way to winning their very first tarmac rally.
  • …For years, he was written off as hopeless on sealed surfaces.
  • …Then, in 2012, things started to click.
  • …He had Germany until he crashed into the vineyards (this year).
  • …But, this could be it.
  • …He’s had his steering wheel-scrunching seat shifted to “chillaxed”.
  • …He’s held back, maintaining his 29-second lead.
  • …They tied Hirvonen/Lehtinen in the first loop.
  • …Fingers crossed.
  • …And, legs.
  • …I have to pee SO bad.
  • Also on stage, second-place VWII’s Mikkelsen/Fløene.
  • …10th in the first loop.
  • …Like the Jer-Bear and Meeke, just hanging back and preserving their places.
  • Back to Poopiekins.
  • …Oh, my god, do not crash.
  • …I will pee my pants.
  • …I may pee them out of excitement.
  • …Oh, my god.
  • …I’m not sure what’s causing the sweating at this point.
  • …Both?
  • …Heading into Candyland.
  • …He’s going to do it.
  • …I knew he could do this.
  • …Oh, my god.
  • …He’s going to do this.
  • …HE DID IT!!!
  • …JER-BEAR!!!
  • …MIIKKA!!!
  • …TARMAC!!!
  • …FINNS!!!
  • …FRANCE!!!
  • …None of that should be possible.
  • …And, yet…
  • …Boom.
  • …Oh, my god.
  • …Ooohhh…
  • …I don’t have to pee as bad anymore.
  • …Where’d it go?
  • …Oh, well.
  • …Jerry Matt and Minni’s Dad did it!!!
  • …Not a Sébastien in sight!!!
  • Oh, Power Stage…
  • …Ogier, Evans, Jer-Bear.
  • You know…
  • …As suspected…
  • …Poopiekins has gotten much better at getting up on top of that car.
  • Genuine congratulations from his VW teammates.
  • …Ogier just really does love a good battle.
  • …For better or worse.
  • …He wants a fight, he wants to be challenged, and he respects his competitors.
  • …And, those VW guys are just so functional.
  • …They (really) seem to get along, respect one another, and see each other as healthy competition.
  • …Rather than toxic and resentful.
  • …Which happens all-too often.
  • …Remember that Ogier signed on to develop the VW team and Polo after finding working with Loeb (at Citroën) unbearable.
  • …It was my biggest concern for the Jer-Bear, when he signed with VW, that he wouldn’t get the healthy environment he needed.
  • …After (quite literally) growing up with Ford.
  • …And, you know, the very real possibility that Ogier could eat the poor dude alive.
  • …Very good at mind games, that one.
  • …With Poopiekins’ biggest weakness being mental strength.
  • …But, they’ve (all, along with Mikkelsen) really come together and formed a team-based powerhouse.
  • …Strong individuals make for a strong team.
  • …A strong team makes for strong individuals.
  • …It’s just amazing to see it working so well for all of them.
  • On a similar note, is there anyone who is not stoked for Meeke?
  • …He’s had nothing but false starts, one-offs, and a lot of bench time.
  • …And, just look at what we’ve been missing.
  • …Great driver, great attitude.
  • …He’s loving every moment.
  • …Treating every round like a learning experience and just enjoying the ride.
  • …And, it’s paying off.
  • …So, I, for one, hope he sticks around for seasons to come.
  • …Matton seems to (really) like him and (really) want to see him do well.
  • …So, that’s a good sign.
  • …Yeah, another great drive from Meeke and Nagle.
  • Likewise, his fellow former MINI-shafted teammate, Sordo, had another solid run.
  • …Another guy worth keeping around.
  • …Just imagine what he could do if given a stable drive.
  • As for Kubica…
  • …Beyond disappointing.
  • …But…
  • …What a spectacular performance.
  • …One I hope isn’t lost in the final numbers.
  • …Numbers never lie, because they never tell the whole story.
  • …I just really hope that he can focus on how well he did.
  • …He can do this.
  • …I think he -will- do this.
  • …It’s been a tough season.
  • …To say the least.
  • …A lot of pressure, a lot of forgetting that this is his rookie season.
  • …But, he’s had some very high highs and has just kept forging ahead through the lowest of lows.
  • …And, he’s done it all (essentially) one-handed.
  • …So, nothing but good vibes in his direction.
  • Okay, well, that’s that for France.
  • A super sweet result, made even sweeter after today’s F1 disaster.
  • …It was nice to see some champagne sprayed.
  • …Looks of pure joy and excitement, rather than concern and confusion.
  • …Hugs, rather than pulling people in to share information.
  • Next up will be Spain.
  • …The most Spanish round of the season.
  • …And, the final of the tarmac trio.
  • …It will kick off in Barcelona (the actual, factual, proper, streets of Barcelona!) on the 23rd.
  • …I have zero idea how my coverage will roll.
  • …None.
  • …So, if I get to do any, it’ll be a fun surprise.
  • …(For no one.)
  • …If not…
  • …Well, Australia was a huge bummer.
  • …It (really) was.
  • …But, I survived and moved on.
  • …And, let’s be honest, no one reads these (anyway).
  • …Either way, it’ll be a wild penultimate round.
  • …Will Ogier take the Championship?
  • …Or, will The Man from the Land of Luck keep the fight alive to the final stages of the season (in Wales).
  • …In the creepy manner of Gene Wilder’s Willy Wonka…
  • …”The suspense is killing me.”
  • Jer-Bear and Miikka won France!!!
  • Ha!!!
  • (Face!!!!!!!)
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