In what can only be described as a torrid year so far for Esapekka Lappi in the Citroen’s C3 world rally car. Like so many other drivers he can’t get to grips with the car at all. A far cry from the Toyota he was driving last year. It’s not maybe all lappi’s fault though! Mads Ostberg, Andreas Mikkelsen, Kris Meeke all drove the car competitively and all raised concerned about the handling, lack of grip in certain conditions etc
Only one man is doing reasonably well or steady in the car and that is 6 times world champion Seb Ogier, but he is unique and like the rest he is pushing Citroen very hard for upgrades, more power etc
This raises the question now as we come to the mid point of 2019 and how the championship is unfolding. It’s shows that Meeke was driving on the ragged edge in the Citroen just to keep up and that Breen was doing pretty good job for the package he had and the relative short amount of top flight experience he had compared to the others. With his second place finish in Sweden last year it shows in the right conditions the car can be ok and that result also shows Breen has the talent and the confidence to lead and win world rallies. He just needs a little more experience.
Lappi struggling this badly in the Citroen really shows Breen did ok last year! Does he deserve a place in a WRC team at the moment? I certainly think so.
It’s a hard one to call at the moment but I think it’s between 3 drivers.
Ott Tanak is on a charge, driving a good car, maybe not the best car but a good one and is very relaxed and confident in his Yaris. Doesn’t seem to worry too much about anything, just gets on with the job!
Seb Ogier is driving a car that’s definitely not as fast as the Yaris and doesn’t handle as good but solidly reliable. I don’t recall easily when the C3 WRC last had a mechanical failure, maybe last year when Breen and Al Qassimi had the fuel issue. Ogier is picking up a good haul of points all year so far. One way or the other he is making the podium.
Thierry Neuville is blindingly fast, a ferocious competitor but I think he does be on the limit a lot more often that the other guys and potentially prone to more accidents as the year progresses. Also how reliable is the Hyundai!
I think it’s between Ogier and Tanak. If the Yaris can stay reliable Tanak will be unstoppable! But then you have Ogier, the 6 times world champion, how could you bet against him. Doesn’t like to go home empty handed. Time will tell!
Another rally and some more fantastic driving by both Jari matti and kris Meeke, but in the end yet again it’s the same result. One way or the other them seem to hit dramas or make silly mistakes and basically take little or no points away from the wknd. Ok latvala has been a little unfortunate with mechanical problems but I think this is partly due to him pushing too hard because he wants to win rallies for himself.
The Meeke situation is just crazy! Had the hard work done and just had to get it home but he wanted the 5 power stage points, pushed too hard and we all know the result.
The bigger problem I see with Meeke’s crash is it played right into Ogier’s and Thierry Neuville’s hands, gifting them valuable championship points. Which is basically hampering Tanak’s championship lead or campaign. It’s always better to have a strong teammate to take points off your competitor. A Toyota 1 2 or even 1 3 would have been a super result.
So my question to you folk is it time for Tommi Makinen to haul Jari matti and kris into a meeting and tell them their job for the rest of the season in to assist Ott Tanak winning the drivers title, strictly. Not about them winning rallies or power stages, to drive strictly to team orders! For example if Meeke was instructed to finish the rally in Portugal no matter what and not to push for power stage points he probably would have finished and with a good haul of points.