I’ve always wanted to watch rallying. Everything I want is there: awesomely fast cars built from cars you can buy at a dealership, epic roads, monster speed and massive oversteer at every corner. But every year I don’t watch because the coverage absolutely sucks. I decided 2012 is going to be different.
I figured that this year I’ll follow the rally championship and see if it’s all that it’s cracked up to be. I know that the footage is nothing but hardcore, dirt-splattered car porn, but the competition is always a real snuze-fest. The season opened last week with the Monte Carlo Rally, held for the 80th time on the legendary alpine roads of the south of France and Monaco didn’t really defy my expectations, but I didn’t really mind. Reigning 8-time World Champion Sebastian Loeb has won this rally five times, but I thought that maybe this year someone would break his near-robotic streak. Yeah, not so much.
The only challenger to Loeb and his Red Bull Citroën was Ford’s young, aggressive, Finnish driver, Jari-Matti Latvala, but he didn’t even make it past the first day. Nobody else came close to touching Loeb’s lead. The guy just cruised through the rally, always making the perfect choice of what tires to use and never making a mistake.
The only other action was between Ford’s number two driver, the former World Champion Petter “Mr. Hollywood” Solberg who diced for second with Spain’s Daniel “Dani” Sordo, who drives a factory-funded Mini Countryman. Still, I think I had a better time laughing at Solberg’s ridiculous baseball player-grade goatee he grew in the off season and his English co-driver who shouts out the pace notes with such a high-pitched squeal that it sounds like someone dropped an angry gerbil down his racing overalls.
I really didn’t care that the podium was sealed as Citroën – Mini – Ford by the end of the third day because I got to see the racers take on one of the most daunting roads in the world: the Col de Turini. Narrow roads cut straight onto sheer cliffs, endless hairpins, it’s a legend. The drivers even raced through the night with fans lighting bonfires and fireworks right along the edge of the road. It wasn’t quite as epic as Group B, but the onboard footage was just awesome.
If you want to watch the damn thing yourself, just check out this dude’s YouTube channel. He’s got the whole race coverage in HD.
Was it worth it, watching the Monte Carlo Rally? Well, watching Loeb was as dull and predictable as I thought it’d be, but following Solberg and his gerbil-infested co-driver was actually pretty fun. I usually could give two shits about what happens in the World Rally Championship, but now I’m looking forward to how Ford’s Scandinavian drivers fare against Loeb when they start making some serious snow-drift car porn in Rally Sweden.
Photo Credits: Citroën, Ford and Mini. I think you can figure out who owns each pic.