- Sep 7, 2004
- Southern Finland
- None :/
I expect Petter to end up in VW, I think he's fed up with the stress of running his own team and would prefer to drive for someone else. To be the team leader in VW would be the obvious choice, although if Ogier leaves Citro?n there would also be an opening there... But there's the same proviso as with the Finns on that role, I doubt 'Hollywood' would be too happy about number 2 role either.It's an interesting situation for sure, and going to get a lot more complicated now Mini and VW are on the scene. It Ogier isn't careful, he is going to fall foul of 'Francois Duval' sydnrome. Now, Ogier has a lot more talent and speed than Duval, but the way he keeps throwing it off while in the lead won't be tolerated for too long. Loeb doesn't seem that bothered, he still doesn't often drive as fast as he can, only as fast as he needs to. On the rare occasions that he does, well, look at what happened in Sardinia and Finland this year. Won despite running first on the road all three days.
If I was Mikko Hirvonen I'd be rather nervous, which is a shame because I think Mikko has championship winning pace: he just can't unlock it unless something goes wrong and all the pressure is off. In Finland he left everyone in his dust, but only because he wasn't fighting for anything. It's all in his head. Jari-Matti has shown this year that he is the fastest Ford driver, the Fiesta just can't keep up with him.
Would VW take a risk on Ogier and his crashing, or Mikko and his potential slowness? But really, who else is out there for them to sign? Jari-Matti is probably still a bit precocious, Loeb isn't going anywhere, Gronholm's been out of the sport too long. Petter is really the only option but there are a few doubts about his ability to sort out a car. I know I will sound like a biased Aussie, but what about Chris Atkinson?
I know he would be useless marketing-wise for VW, but he is still young enough, supremely fast and motivated.
To be honest, though, I think Petter Solberg and....Juno Hanninen? Ott Tanak? Andreas Mikkelsen? Are the most likely candidates. What am I missing?
To be honest, Haydon Paddon deserves a WRC drive sooner rather than later as he has made everyone else in PWRC look extremely silly this year (no great hardship I'll grant you)
As far as their other options go... Somehow I can't see Ogier going to VW. I am fairly sure he has offers from both Ford and Citro?n and he can pick either one he wants, and I also doubt either of them would be a one year deal. If one of the finns at Ford end up without a job I think VW would be crazy not to take either of them on if they can. I expect Mikko to be the more likely canditate, and even if he is not the fastest driver around he is quite consistent and has lots of experience. I doubt Ford will let Jari-Matti go now as he finally seems to have matured into a point where he is starting to show his speed somewhat consistently.
On the non-WRC options... I really hope VW gives H?nninen a chance. He has already given VAG an IRC title and will probably add an SWRC to that by the end of the year. Hell, he still has a chance to take another IRC title this year despite only taking part in five of the nine events held so far this year which is remarkable, to say the least. He has shown that he deserves a shot in the big league.
I wouldn't mind to see Atko up there, but he has been out of WRC for quite a while now and I don't know whether he'd be on the top of the list for WRC factory teams. Mikkelsen, T?nak and Paddon are all clearly talented youngsters but I don't think they are quite ready for factory seats yet...