It may seem like an obvious joke, but Rallye Deutschland takes no prisoners. Neither does Citroen’s six-time World Rally Champion Sébastien Loeb, as he has won in Germany a record eight times now after last weekend: another record in the WRC that falls to him.
But before the start, Loeb wasn’t especially confident. Or so it seemed. “Just because I won there seven times doesn’t mean that I’m going to win there eight times,” went his logic. “If you toss a coin and it comes out heads seven times, why should it be heads again the eighth time?”
His philosophy was in vain, though. Sure enough, the coin came up heads again. “Second place is the most I can hope for,” said Loeb’s team-mate Dani Sordo, even before the start. But Sordo had more pressing concerns, as this was the Spaniard’s first rally with his new co-driver Diego Vallejo. “I was quite nervous about how it would work and if it was the right decision,” confessed Sordo. “Afterwards I realised I had nothing to worry about.”
Could it be because Germany is the land of Nietzsche, Kant and Hegel but Petter Solberg was also in an uncharacteristically philosophical mood. At the end of Friday, the Norwegian declared: “I lost a lot of time in the morning because of a broken tyre valve, then I lost a lot of time in the afternoon because I was being stupid. So now we’re quits.”
“This was a very special rally for me as it’s my first podium on asphalt,” said Ogier. “My goal was simply to be behind the two factory cars, and now we’ve done it.”
It may have been great news for Citroen but things were less rosy at Ford. Mikko Hirvonen’s retirement meant that he kissed goodbye to any chance of the drivers’ championship, but as Ford team principal Malcolm Wilson succinctly put it: “his prospects of winning the drivers’ title were a dead duck anyway.”
Jari-Matti Latvala had a much better time with the 25-year-old Finn putting in his most convincing performance on asphalt yet to claim fourth.
What most people didn’t realise was that Ford had a secret weapon. With temperatures climbing up to 31 degrees Centigrade, the Ford drivers wore fireproof underwear impregnated with menthol. This apparently produces a cooling effect in crucial sectors.
“It’s true: I’ve got a minty bottom,” confirmed Latvala. “Maybe that’s why we’re going so well.”
The most memorable quote of the rally though comes from an intrepid radio reporter. “Sébastien Loeb is leaving the time control,” he said, live on air. “And AAARGH! Ugh, ah, ah, ugh, AARGH!”
Stage-end reporters tend to helpfully place a rock under the wheels of rally cars that have just completed a stage while they talk to the drivers, so that the drivers do not have to apply brakes that might bind to super-hot disks.
After an exclusive interview, the reporter obligingly removed the rock restraining Loeb’s Citroen – which then ran over his hand…