A choice taken a decade in the past lately value Mikko Hirvonen a International Rally Championship – and the possible to damage Sébastien Loeb’s astonishing run of 9 titles.

On Sunday 24 Would possibly in 2009, the 6th spherical of the WRC, Rally d’Italia Sardegna, got here to its conclusion. Arriving at the Italian island, the controversy was once about persisted Citroën domination.

The French producer had received the former six rounds, with Loeb on the most sensible of the desk on a super 50 issues from the 12 months’s first 5 rallies.

Ford hadn’t received in six months. What’s extra, Jari-Matti Latvala was once construction his self belief after a terrifying roll down a Portuguese mountainside two rallies previous. Latvala’s team-mate, Hirvonen, was once 19 issues down on Loeb in the beginning outdoor Olbia’s Town Corridor. M-Game’s Finns in Fords wanted a outcome.

The primary part was once ruled through ways as Citroën attempted to ease Loeb’s ache working first at the highway in scorching, dry stipulations. Ford replied, however within the warmth of the combat Hirvonen couldn’t imagine how a lot time the workforce was once asking him to drop and the Blue Oval did not take complete benefit.

Loeb did finally end up working in the back of Hirvonen, however paid the associated fee for his tactical method when he clobbered a rock pulled out through the Center of attention RS and punctured.

In what stays one of the crucial quickest ever wheel adjustments, Loeb and co-driver Daniel Elena had been again within the automobile and on their means after simply 1m10s. However stewards spotted Elena hadn’t buckled up his belts in time and a two-minute penalty was once passed out.

Going into the overall day, Latvala was once 9.9sec forward of Hirvonen with Petter Solberg greater than a minute in the back of in his non-public Citroën Xsara. Workforce important Malcolm Wilson was once stuck between a rock and a troublesome position. What will have to he do?

The verdict was once to go away the vehicles in place. In the end, fog and striking mud passed first at the highway Latvala an important benefit, however nonetheless the sector waited for J-ML to drag over or make one ultimate tactical test in to a keep an eye on. It by no means got here. And a extremely joyful Latvala celebrated his 2nd WRC win.

Hirvonen registered 8 issues as an alternative of 10. Six rounds and 5 months later, when the overall reckoning was once completed, he was once one level in the back of Loeb.

Switching the Fords round 10 years in the past lately would have given Mikko the 2 issues he had to be global champion.

Speaking to Wilson about it a decade on, he recalls a hard choice that morning.

“We had been utterly torn,” he mentioned. “Clearly Mikko was once the number 1 driving force and we would have liked to reinforce him, however on the identical time Jari-Matti had the sort of tough begin to the 12 months and I in reality sought after to spice up him up.

“Don’t omit, he’d simply had that vast twist of fate in Portugal and I in reality felt a win would assist get his self belief again. On the time we may have had no thought the best way the remainder of the season would play out,” he mentioned.

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