On Saturday I was at the ADAC Rallye Deutschland, the 9th round of the FIA World Rally Championship 2013. I was at SS11, the Arena Panzerplatte stage, were Jari Matti Latvala nearly retired after hitting a ”Hinkelstein”.
It was fantastic, until the rain came, which then was the reason of the cancellation of the historic event, what is always great to watch.
It was also a great stage for Sordo, because he overtook Neuville in the overall classifications for the lead of the rallye, and he stayed there.
Then the last stage of the rallye ”Dronthal 2” what was also the Power Stage.
Sordo was only 25 km away from his first WRC win. He started the stage behind Neuville, who was only 3 seconds behind Sordo in the overall standings.
Now both started the stage.
Sordo was faster in the first split time, but in the second he was only 0.1 seconds faster than Neuville.
In the third split time they had the exact same time, it couldn’t get any more exciting.
But suddenly Neuville made a mistake and lost nearly 30 seconds. After that it was clear that Sordo had won the rallye.
It was his the first ever WRC victory and I will now tell you why this win was quite special…
Sordo’s WRC career
Dani Sordo came into the JWRC (Junior World Rally Championship) in 2005 driving for Kronos Racing in a Citroen C2 S1600.
As teammate he had the brit Kris Meeke. He won 4 rallyes, including a home victory at Spain and won the JWRC championship afterwards.
Sordo then began his WRC career back in 2006, again driving for Kronos in a Citroen Xsara WRC.
He’s teammates were, at that time 2-time WRC champion Sebastian Loeb and Xavier Pons. Sordo was 8th at the season opener, the Monte Carlo Rallye.
He was only 16th in Sweden, but in Mexico he got an impressive 4th position and then got two podium places at Corsica and Spain.
He was then promoted as a No.2 driver at Kronos, because Pons was more crashing than making results.
Sordo scored a 2nd place finish at Germany and was fourth at New Zealand as a replacement for the injured Loeb.
Then Citroen came back to the WRC in 2007 with the new C4 WRC.
After a great 06 season, Sordo joined the factory Citroen Racing WRT together with triple world champion Loeb.
From 2007-2009 he got many podiums at tarmac rallyes, but never a win, because his teammate was also the guy to win these rallyes and he was the clear No.2 driver so he had to help Loeb to secure the titles for him.
He even had to let Loeb pass for the lead at Spain 2008, what was quite hard for him.
In 2010 Sordo did the same thing like in last three years, but Citroen wanted more from him, they wanted him to be more succesfull on gravel rallyes, even wins there.
But it never happend, so he’s Citroen seat looked really bad, because there was one young french driver who was to replace him, a guy called Sebastian Ogier.
Ogier drove for the Citroen Junior Rallye team, nearly winning at New Zealand and then winning actually at Portugal, he showed winning potential on gravel and tarmac.
So he replaced Sordo for the gravel rallyes at the 2nd half of the WRC 2010 season.
Sordo only drove for the factory teams at the tarmac rallyes and driving for the Junior team at the gravel rallyes.
Well after Ogier won at Japan, it was clear that he will replace Sordo for the 2011 season, and it happend.
Sordo then switched to Mini for the 2011 WRC season, his teammate again Kris Meeke.
After a lot of testing the John Cooper Works WRC car (based on the Countryman) it made it’s debut at the Sardegna Rallye, were he ended up being 6th.
Then a disappointing Finland rallye, but a great Germany rallye with finishing 3rd overall.
Another two podiums at France and Spain later in the year.
So it looked quite promising for Sordo and Mini, as they will compete the full 2012 season.
But after a great 3rd position at Monte Carlo, everything came to the opposite direction.
BMW pulled out the financial support, so Prodrive didn’t had enough money to compete the 2nd half of the season, the actually long term Mini project was over.
Sordo then became a 2nd chance at Citroen, after Ogier left the team in 2012 and Loeb slowly retiring from the sport.
A terrible to the 1st half of 2013 for Sordo, lacking pace behind teammate Hirvonen.
Citroen again wanted to replace Sordo for the rest of the ”gravel” season with Kris Meeke. But now after the win in Germany, it’s unlikley that they won’t keep him till next year (at least).
Sordo competed in 106 WRC rallyes until winning his first event last weekend. He truly deserved it, now i hope this won’t be the only one….
Note: This rallye was overshadowed by the death of two dutch rallye drivers (one driver, one co-driver) who died at Saturday evening at ”Panzerplatte 2” in a Triumph for the Historic event. They had crash at the ”Gina” jump. Thoughts are with thier friends and family.
R.I.P. to both.