2012 WRC Season Commentary

2012 WRC Summary by General Article :

This time the FIA actually manages to get Monte Carlo back from IRC to WRC. In a way, bad news for IRC, because some other strange decissions on top, it must be said for the first time since the introduction of the IRC the WRC does definitely seem to have the better calendar. Actually not too much changed at WRC. Monte Carlo is back as the season opener, and Rally Jordan is dropped. Good swap. Jordan was one of the most expensive and least characterful events and, as if I hadn’t aired worries about just that before, in 2011 Rally Jordan was cut by a whole day for political instability.

But political instability can also be claimed in other eras. Monte Carlo may have regretted their WRC return soon. The FIA promised more freedom and live TV to the Monte organisers, but then the WRC lost their promotor for other complicated political issues moments before the season started, and we ended up with a Monte with no Turini Night stages, a Sunday consisting of a 5km super special, and, had it not been for IRC’s Eurosport to help out, no TV! In the end Monte was the only event that got any TV time in most European countries, though that is nothing new.

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The sporting side we could start with politics too. Prodrive Mini had a promising few debut events in 2011. But somehow Prodrive promised BMW to find finance for the project themselves, but didn’t and BMW had to pay up. Well, I don’t want to go too deep into this, as it is too complicated to point fingers at anyone. The end solution was that Prodrive would carry on building and developping the cars, but the status as the official manufacturer team was handed to Mini Italy. Or Mini Portugal. The team was Italian, the cars run out of Italy (although most of the time with Prodrive Oxford reg plates), the team name however was Mini Portugal and their most regular driver was Brasilian. The guy who gave the team its name was Armindo Araujo, who however then was replaced by Chris Atkinson mid season.

If all this isn’t confusion enough, this shuffle came at such a late date, that the FIA withdrew Prodrive Mini’s entry as a works team and handed it over to Mini Portugal only after Monte Carlo. This is still understandable giving the circumstances. What is not to understand is why Prodrive Mini then could keep its 26 makes points from Monte Carlo, but then even the new official Mini works team around Araujo/Atkinson & Nobre was not entitled to score any points despite being the registered works team! Anyway, Prodrive was now free of obligations to enter all events, but it is still a question mark who won by that? The 26 points don’t really help anyone at the end of the season, the original official drivers, Meeke was out of a drive, Sordo had an extremely reduced program, and the name of BMW-Mini was officially represented by a driver like Nobre, whose best result of the season was 17th! Strange shuffle, and it came as no surprise when at the end of the season Mini in München withdrew for good, though a waste of a promising car!

Another interesting move was who would replace Ogier at Citroën. Well, Citroën managed to get Ford number 1 Hirvonen as their number 2, while Citroën privateer Petter Solberg would take on the free seat at Ford. After many years of near stand still on the drivers market, this could give answers to which car performs better. In the end there wasn’t a clear answer. Even at rallies Finland and GB, where in previous seasons Ford looked most likely to beat Loeb, Hirvonen was no match to Loeb this time round. In contrast, Petter’s promotion from a private Citroën to a full works Ford did not change his fortunes, no wins and several accidents.

So in the end not much changed after all, Loeb title number 9 and Citroën title number 7, both quite clearly. It must be said, Ford helped with rotten luck on the way. Maybe at the end of the season there is even a question mark where now with Ford and drivers. With VW round the corner, the best drivers already seem fix at Citroën and VW, while Ford can’t be happy with the crash rate of both Latvala & Solberg. Especially Latvala, he had a fine victory in Sweden, but crashed out of 3 of the first 4 events with yet another, unrelated accident not even having him start round 5 at all. It wasn’t really Latvala’s fault why he couldn’t start round 5, but altogether there is a taste that this was one of the easiest seasons for Citroën.
 

2012 WRC Factory Team and Driver Line Ups :
 

Citroën Citroën, 2012 - Citroën Racing : 1st on 453 points.
 

 

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Ford Ford, 2012 - Ford Rallye Team : 2nd on 309 points.
 

 

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Ford Ford, 2012 - Ford (M-Sport) : 3rd on 170 points.
 

 

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Ford Ford, 2012 - Ford (Adapta) : 4th on 83 points.
 

 

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Citroën Citroën, 2012 - Citroën (Junior) : 5th on 80 points.
 

 

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Citroën Citroën, 2012 - Citroën (Qatar) : 6th on 71 points.
 

 

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BMW BMW, 2012 - BMW Mini Prodrive : 7th on 26 points.
 

 

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Ford Ford, 2012 - Ford (Brazil WRT) : 8th on 26 points.
 

 

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