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Thread: Time to replace JML? Go to Top of This Forum

 Time to replace JML? by RonSkoda

6-Apr-09 04:34 AM 

I changed the front page poll to ask what Ford should do about JML.

This is a tricky one, because there is probably nobody faster on gravel available, but that is useless if he is going to crash 2-3 times out of every 4 rallies. There are many drivers around who could have scored more points than Jari-Matti so far this year.

Argentina will be kind of make or break, surely. The pressure will be on, one more crash and I can't see Ford keeping him in the works team this year. But I don't think JML will respond well to that pressure.

I would vote to stick a safe pair of hands in the works car (like Gardemeister) and place Jari-Matti in a Stobart for the rest of this year, not just 2 or 3 rallies.

 Re: Time to replace JML? by bringbackrealrallying

6-Apr-09 06:06 AM 

this is the (or at least one of them) the problem with this daft 2 car per team rule. He's clearly quick and talented but a bit out of control, that will go with time and he'll probably end up a very accomplished driver. But how long will it take, how long are Ford meant to wait, they'll look silly if he just keeps crashing but even sillier if they let him go and he becomes world champion somewhere else. Time was when a team could just let there young drivers fly around wrecking the scenery safe in the knowledge that the old pros would pick up the points, like Ford did with Vatanen. Now they have to be reliable straight away, thats not how it works and another example of WRC working against young drivers.

 Re: Time to replace JML? by Chris B

6-Apr-09 08:53 AM 

Exactly, that's another problem why WRC is dull and why we don't find anyone to challenge Loeb. For a start the points system is wrong with too tiny an award for victory, no droop scores, speed means nothing against reliability. 2-car teams certainly too.

I don't know, was it you bringbackrealrallying mentioning how Ford could stick to Vatanen before. I see why Latvala is not up for the job in his position, but maybe the job itself is wrong. When Vatanen shreddered the scenery, the Ford team was Waldegaard-Mikkola-Vatanen, occasionally Clark. There was no problem in Vatanen crashing all the time, because we all saw he was one of the fastest and we all could guess one day he will come good, which he did. Ford does not have this chance with Latvala unless they change to IRC.

The irony is, in the current WRC we don't even save money with 2-car teams because we have the B-teams. OK, no decent drivers there. But as it is even Wilslow has more points than Latvala. Don't laugh, if you have to fight Loeb, a 3-car Ford team Hirvonen-Latvala-Wilslow would be about perfect. This is one mature driver, one unreliable driver but absolutely blindingly quick, the only one able to pressure Loeb and one newcomer who can half way stay on the road and act as points anchor should the crash pilot falter. OK, At over 50 starts Wilslow is no newcomer, but that is a different story.

Anyway, for all that I don't have an answer to the scenario. Sack the only driver who can beat Loeb. No way. The other option is no good for the rules. So the only thing left I can come up with is to swap Latvala and Mosley round. All Mosley would have had to do as a driver this weekend is to finish, even if he would have travelled at 30kmh and finished last it would have been 3 makes points for Ford, which is better than Latvala, while Latvala would probably so mature to change exactly this silly and easy way of scoring makes points!

 Re: Time to replace JML? by Gregor

6-Apr-09 10:10 AM 

Granted he wasn't presented as a 'top' driver at the time, but how lenient was Ford with Petter Solberg's antics as a young driver?

 Re: Time to replace JML? by Chris B

6-Apr-09 11:36 AM 

Very. Because one story that strangely seems forgotten today - probably because Subaru liked selling Petter as their discovery and Subaru fans liked to believe this - is that Ford had a long term plan and contract to built up Petter. As soon as he started delivering good stage times Subaru stole him off Ford. I don't know the exact contractual situation, but there was talk Petter still had a long contract. But most of the time the Ford talk was, quite rightly, that they built Petter up, paid the repair bills, and Subaru takes the profit. This is the reason why in recent times Ford was no alternative for Petter. Malcolm has never forgiven him and Subaru, he does not want Petter in his team unless he pays REALLY big cash.

Whatever the details, Ford did not want to get rid of Petter because he crashed too much, right in contrary, Ford was very angry Petter left for Subaru the moment he did.

 Re: Time to replace JML? by m4d-mike

6-Apr-09 02:58 PM 

god no keep him there how the hell can anyone with talent get good if they are not given the chance. latvala reminds me of mcrae when he was mcrash. we need carachters like this and solberg and loeb. this i what will make the Slow2000 bearable to watch

 Re: Time to replace JML? by Gregor

6-Apr-09 04:03 PM 

I didn't realize Petter deserted Ford like that. Over here pretty much anything McRae or Solberg (and now Gronholm) is always associated with Subaru, they being the only manufacturer in the US/Canada.

 Re: Time to replace JML? by mof

7-Apr-09 06:02 AM 

Give him the boot and hire Atkinson.

 Re: Time to replace JML? by m4d-mike

7-Apr-09 07:53 PM 

well i do agree with that atkinson can beat hirvonen when he is goin well and has done all his cashing wit subaru already. that would actually be a bit of a dig at the scoobys too considering petters actions. in 2001

 Re: Time to replace JML? by starboardtac

8-Apr-09 12:17 AM 

I voted to keep JML. Marcus is not coming back. Toni had his chance. Henning has shown what he can do in an equivalent car. I have never been impressed by Atkinson - he is usually more crash prone than JML.

And I have shared my thoughts on Duval many times before.

I might have voted for Galli, but he is not on the list.

 Re: Time to replace JML? by teamanager

13-Apr-09 07:58 PM 

I could very well be wrong on this one, but didn't Petter switch over to Subaru about the same time as the 2 drivers only rule came through ? I don't think Ford had a place available for him. Also, wasn't Ford on an "economy drive" at the time, also getting rid of the high salaries of Colin McRae and Carlos Sainz (very shaky memory here) and running with only Francois Duval and Markko Martin ? (Both very cheap at the time).

Didn't Markko Martin move from Subaru to Ford at that time ? Almost like a "trade".

Could be wrong.....

 Re: Time to replace JML? by teamanager

13-Apr-09 08:03 PM 

Gardemeister is NOT going to challenge Loeb at this stage in his career. JML has the potential to do just that.

I'd see Mikko Hirvonen as the experienced driver who should be bringing in points reliably - which he has done. In fact, I think Mikko has performed above expectations. In any other era - one without Sebastien Loeb - he would be probably regarded as one of the best.

 Re: Time to replace JML? by Chris B

14-Apr-09 05:01 AM 

Difficult to follow up what masterplans the teams had at the time half-secretly in the back of their minds.

When the Focus came along in 1999 they signed an all new driver team. They lost Kankkunen to Subaru, they signed Colin for that multi million deal, but with all other drivers taken, they were in a dilemma for the 2nd car. They eventually took Radström as gravel expert, Jean-Joseph as asphalt expert, and Wilson had an eye on Petter, who he signed to bread for the future on a multi year deal. Petter was meant to drive old Escort WRCs. Though a first highlight was when Radström was injured and Petter took Radtsröms car to 5th in Safari.

For 2000 Ford managed to get Sainz back, Radström and Jean-Joseph were out, Petter got on better and better. In Rally NZ 2000 Petter lead his first rally. Märtin was still around in private Corollas. Towards the end of the year, even before the season was over, Petter and Märtin were both snapped up by Subaru! For Märtin chance of a life time, but in Petter’s case, for a driver under contract, very unusual to switch teams mid season. And the timing was weird, Petter led his first rally in NZ, barely 2 months later he started his first rally with Subaru!

In 2001 the Ford team was Sainz, Colin, Delecour, the Subaru team Burns, Petter, Märtin. Märtin had a rotten season at Subaru and in 2002 moved over to Ford, wheere he replaced Delecour. In 2003 Ford played the no-money-card and ran Märtin, Duval, Hirvonen, Latvala, while Colin and Sainz moved on to Citroen. Petter Solberg became World Champion, people have long forgotten Ford pathed his way until he could lead rallies. Only in 2004 the 3-car teams were cancelled, we lost Colin at Citroen while interestingly Hirvonen moved from Ford to Subaru.

The Hirvonen situation was different to that of Petter. As far as I understood Ford had a multi -5 questionmark- year contract with Petter and they paid his starts and the cars he wrecked, while in the 3-car team days after Ford played the no-money-card, Hirvonen was nearly like a modern M2 driver, he brought big sponsors paying towards the works team. Hence Hirvonen was the convenient 3rd driver, but not paid for Ford for their long term future. Ford only started being genuinly interested in Hirvonen, when he had a rotten season at Subaru, then returned to an all private Focus in which he could lead Sardinia!

Hence if you want, Hirvonen’s career was a self-financed accident, while Ford paid Petter in a long term program that should make him a World champion – but not one for the oposition! I might not remember all details, but I remember Malcolm Wilson and was it Martin Whittacker at the time complaining very loudly that Ford paid to help Petter to what he has become and Subaru took the fruits and that Petter will never again get a single favour from Ford. This must sit deep and quite understandably when I got the facts right. Who likes to pay to then have the laurels stolen froom under your nose. I remember something the subject came on quite lately again, when for 2008 Grönholm retired from Ford and Petter was unhappy at Subaru and Petter looked like the only available driver with the right speed to replace Grönholm, even then Malcolm still said that he would never cooperate with Petter again. And for 2009, at least Armin Schwar said in an interview that Petter choose the Xsara because the only way he could drive a Ford was in bringing huge cash to Ford, while Malcolm once again had made it clear to him he would not have a professional future with the team.

Back to subject...


I fully agree on what is said about Gardemeister and Latvala. My heart would say keep Latvala. But for the WRC rules it doesn’t make sense. Well, or more to the point once again the WRC rules spoil the show.

Latvala is in my eyes the only guy who has the speed to challenge Loeb. Hirvonen is not bad, but I do believe Loeb, by all respect, breaks all those records because he has no competition. As we said before, saying that Loeb is that much better than say Sainz, Auriol, KKK, Colin, Burns, Mäkinen, etc.. who all competed at the same time, is quite pathetic. Just if you compared Loeb to Röhrl, wheere are all those Mikkola, Waldegaard, Blomqvist, Vatanen, Salonen, Toivonen, Biasion, Alen to challenge him. Latvala could be Vatanen. Unfortunately not much else left. You could say Matt Wilson is a girl, but then we have Mouton, who in the Röhrl days in 50 WRC starts won 4 WRC events and became vice World champion, Wilson has had 53 WRC starts and if anything has won the spirit of the rally award for still believeing he is the next big star.

Gardemeister may not have won anything in plenty starts, but he has managed many podiums and he is very reliable and a potential podium finisher anywheere. I have rarely seen a Finn who is that good on asphalt!

I agree I would much rather see fast, wild Latvala over Gardemeister in a top works car. I would love to see guys like Latvala getting a break, because then we have a chance we find a handful of drivers that can make Loeb’s life more difficult than a Sunday walk.

But why does no-one at the FIA see that the rules are to blame. We have tiny points rewards for the winner, more points than makes teams, no joker droop scores....

If this was IRC, I would choose Latvala as a driver any day. But this is WRC and Wilson has scored more points than Latvala for **** sake. But then we want WRC to turn an amateurs series....

Well, it does feel wrong, but Latvala’s 3 crashes in 4 rallies mean Ford need a miracle to beat Citroen in the makes this year. But for how the rules are – sorry Hirvonen and Garde, I am exaggerating to get the point across – you need a pair of dull drivers to win titles! What I mean, it always was interesting what driver strategies teams could come up with. It always was interesting to have maybe one experienced and reliable driver and decorate him with young blood or a wild driver. When Vatanen shreddered Escorts, it didn’t matter to Ford. Vatanen in his Rothmans days delivered a big name and fan following like Colin or Petter, and if Vatanen couldn’t win titles, there was always reliable alrounder Waldegaard and gentleman Mikkola to back up the points.

I don’t think there ever has been a time that severe in you only want dull drivers who can finish. I don’t actually think Toni Gardemeister is dull, I love him as a character, but despite him never having won anything, his ability to finish near the podium on absolutely every rally makes him the perfect team driver today. A few years ago you would have said he is the perfect N°2, but maybe this hits the nail on the head, all you need today is N°2s, no N°1.

Just check recent Portugal makes results. Latvala did real damage to his team. Replace Latvala for Max Mosley on a Ford branded bicycle. We probably would have to wait till next week until he finishes the rally on his bicycle, But even being last, 4 weeks down, would have guaranteed 3 makes points for Ford! 3 makes points if you walk the stages on a pub crawl! This is how much speed means these days.

I am afraid it is truue. And I am the first one to agree that this way we never find anyone challenging Loeb or anyone who is mega exciting to watch on the stages. Sure Gardemeister can’t beat Loeb, but if Ford had a team of Hirvoenen-Gardemeister, all it needs is 2 retirements for Loeb and Ford has a very serious chance on the makes title!

 Re: Time to replace JML? by Chris B

14-Apr-09 05:32 AM 

Add on....

So the dilemma is that Loeb is as fast as the best in history, plus he is reliable and clever. But for the way the rules are, the last thing you need is an unreliable driver, speed does help but is not essential, hence you are better off with Wilson than Latvala and we are never to find a real Loeb challenge.

With the Subaru situations described above, Hirvonen was also surplus at Ford when the 3-car-teams were banned. The biggest issue this meant for Ford was that Ford lost a sponsor. Hence this situation was quite different to the Petter one.

What made matters worse for Ford was that Subaru kept rubbing it in how brilliant they are talent spotting. When Petter won the title Subaru kept implementing they discovered and bread Petter. This of course was not truue. It is difficult to speculate how exactly Malcolm thought and what the contract was like when Petter left mid season, it is however fact that Petter came nowheere works Fords and after crashes and a steep learning curve was leading his first WRC events in Fords, only then he left and when Subaru claimed it was their discovery, it was blatant lying to the cost of Ford!

 Re: Time to replace JML? by teamanager

15-Apr-09 07:38 PM 

No argument....Petter made his mark in the Ford team, and Subaru only picked him up when he started to look good.

What Ford need now is a return to the 3 car system, or better yet, the IRC system where the top two cars from a manufacturer count - which I think used to be the case in WRC too, before "nominated" drivers were required. Or maybe that's my faulty memory again.

If they did that, the "M2" teams would be meaningless themselves in terms of the Manufacturers Championship, but they would be backing up the factory teams - and helping them when the factory cars faltered. That would make more sense....I think.

Bah...its all too confusing.

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