2005 WRC Season Commentary

2005 WRC Summary by Chris Biewer :

This time no major changes to the rules and the calendar. The SupeRally system is now in full use. What effect this has you can read in the 2004 round up.

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In difference to 2004 Peugeot seems to find momentum with their new 307. But again the team is suffering from a number of flaws. Nevertheless, if there is anybody challenging the Citroën-Loeb combination it is Peugeot!

Before the season Petter Solberg blows out: "I WILL win 10 rallies this year" - Loeb says only "We will see" and goes out and wins a record 10 rallies this year!

Ford is the 3rd strongest team in the makes tables, but maybe plays a waiting game. They lose both their drivers Markko Märtin and Francois Duval and secure the services of Toni Gardemeister and Roman Kresta. Both are not really the strongest drivers at World level, but Gardemeister is a regular points scorer with alrounder qualities and reliability. For a genius homologation idea with an eye on the next season, it is the last event of 2005 where Ford debuts the all new Focus Mk2 and the car's performance impresses straight away with stage wins for Gardemeister and Kresta. Yet the main fight is clearly between Peugeot and Citroën, even though PSA has long announced both makes are to withdraw after the season.

This scenario is actually a wonderful example to one of rallying's biggest challenges: every driver and car has its own unique style and it can be surprising if the combinations work out well or not. Like in 1993 world champion driver (Sainz) in the world champion car (Lancia Delta) = major disaster. Or see the 2003 season summary, Carlos Sainz & Colin McRae as team mates, in the Ford Focus Colin dominated, in the Citroën Xsara Carlos dominated. So here in 2005 Ford's promising Markko Märtin and Francois Duval spread over the dominating PSA teams. But notorious left foot braker Duval has many crashes in the extremely neutral set up Citroën Xsara, while clean driving Märtin struggles to get speed out of the oversteery Peugeot 307. As the season develops, there are plenty of examples that Markko would have been better off in the neutral Xsara, while the 307 would have suited Franky Duval much better.

Indeed the two PSA teams turn once again the dominant teams of the WRC, but both with flaws. The 307 has certainly found reliability and speed, but this time Peugeot traps themselves with the change to Pirelli tyres. Citroën's new #2 Francois Duval impresses with several severe crashes early season until his navigator quits and team boss Guy Fréquelin replaces him for Carlos Sainz for 2 events. Even though Pirelli is clearly at a disadvantage this season, Peugeot actually leads the manufacturer championship after round10, Finland! Going into round12, GB, Citroën leads Peugeot by only 5pts, the fight is clearly hotting up.

Then disaster strucks. In Rally GB Peugeot's #2 Markko Märtin crashes into a tree. The accident sadly claims the life of Beef Park, the first fatal accident of a WRC star since groupB. This clearly takes the wind out of Peugeot's sails. Not only because their withdrawal was imminent at the end of season anyway the team withdraws their cars from the last 3 events during leg1.

Hyundai promises to return to the WRC next year.
 

2005 WRC Factory Team and Driver Line Ups :
 

Citroën Citroën, 2005 - Citroën Sport : 1st on 188 points.
 

 

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Peugeot Peugeot, 2005 - Marlboro Peugeot Total : 2nd on 135 points.
 

 

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Ford Ford, 2005 - BP-Ford RS Rallye Sport Team : 3rd on 104 points.
 

 

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Subaru Subaru, 2005 - 555 Subaru World Rally Team : 4th on 97 points.
 

 

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Mitsubishi Mitsubishi, 2005 - Mitsubishi Motors Motorsport : 5th on 75 points.
 

 

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Skoda Skoda, 2005 - Skoda Motorsport World Rally Team : 6th on 22 points.
 

 

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