Saxo vs Saxo! With the Acropolis Rally, it became clear that the Saxo was well on the way to finding a successor for Loeb. Three Saxo drivers occupied the first three places in the championship. After the ADAC-Rally Deutschland, the positions of...
Saxo vs Saxo!
With the Acropolis Rally, it became clear that the Saxo was well on the way to finding a successor for Loeb. Three Saxo drivers occupied the first three places in the championship. After the ADAC-Rally Deutschland, the positions of the leading trio - Dani Solà, Andrea Dallavilla and Janne Tuohino - remained unchanged. Clearly, victory was in the air for one of the drivers on a car with "chevrons".
The San Remo rally in September removed any last doubts. Whatever the results of the sixth and last leg of the FIA Junior Championship in Wales, the Citroën Saxo will claim the world championship title for the second year running*. Italy's Andrea Dallavilla - in the lead after his victory at San Remo - and Catalunya's Dani Solà, just one length behind him, have too strong a lead to be caught up now. On 17 November, one or the other will succeed Sébastien Loeb in the list of winners of the Super 1600 Championship, rebaptised the Junior WRC.
One or the other, but which one? Even though the Saxo is sure to win, nobody can be certain of the name of the driver. Andrea, who came second to Sébastien Loeb in 2001 was present last year with a Punto. He was hard on Loeb's heels up right until the night special stages, when a blanket of fog came down. Loeb threw him off and he fell into the clutches of another Saxo, driven by Ulsterman Niall McShea. The fight between the two drivers was superb to see - until Dalavilla dropped out in the last stage, allowing Niall to claim for a one-two for the Saxo. To sum up, we could say that while Andrea is not new to the event, the difficult conditions of this rally may not be his cup of tea.
Dalavilla's rival for the title, Dani Solà, was also present at the 2001 event. He was driving a Seat Ibiza, and although his race in the Group A two-litre category was perhaps less intense, he was able to memorise the route, its particularities and its tricks. His problem will lie more in the choice of tactics. He is one point behind Dalavilla and therefore has to beat him to claim the title. This will mean going on the attack - and taking risks.
The plot thickens with the presence of Jussi Välimäki and Janne Tuohino. With just two gravel events on the 2002 timetable, the Finnish Saxo drivers have not had a particularly easy time of it this season and they have every intention of doing well on their favourite surface. They fought it out for victory in the Acropolis and can no doubt trusted to liven the race up among the front runners in Wales.
Janne Tuohino no doubt remembers that he occupied first place briefly in the classification of this rally in 2000, following the super stage in Cardiff. And he is bound to be motivated, since success in Wales would make him the strongest performer of the season (two wins) alongside Solà. That would give him a place on the championship podium, which would - as a result - be 100% Saxo! A pipedream?
*Pending the official results published by the FIA.