Welcome to Rally Flashback, where we look back at a previous version of an upcoming round of the WRC. Like a lot of times before, the season-opener is the legendary Monte Carlo. This time we're looking back to 2002.
And it's not a coincident. In 2015 all the headlines are about Sebastien Loeb making his WRC one-off comeback, but that wasn't the case in 2002. Although he became JWRC champion the year before, expectations were low in front of his first year in the WRC. With former world champions like Tommi Mäkinen and Richard Burns as some of the names changing teams before the season, things were in a bit of a shuffle for the seven manufacturers (imagine Fantasy WRC back then..).
Tommi Mäkinen would still be one of the favourites before the 2002 Monte Carlo. The Finn had won the rally the last three years, and though he was in a new car, the Subaru was one of the quickest back then. The Ford team was full of experience, and both Carlos Sainz and Colin McRae was interested in challenging Mäkinen. Richand Burns and Marcus Grönholm were the most recent world champions, both now in Peugeot. Their strength weren't in Monte Carlo, but a good result here could help their championship chances. And then this newcomer, Sebastien Loeb. Could he challenge the pack of world champions?
Other drivers in this rally is Petter Solberg, Francois Delecour, Philippe Bugalski, Thomas Rådstrøm, Roman Kresta, Toni Gardemeister, Freddy Loix, Harri Rovanpera, Gilles Panizzi, Alister McRae and Markko Märtin. Delecour is the only driver, together with Loeb, to enter the rally this year as well. He's not in a WRC-car though, but a Porsche 911 GT3 RGT.
The 2-minute penalty in the video was initiated after the rally was done, deciding the rally in Mäkinens favor. He won his fourth Monte Carlo in a row, but I bet that Loeb felt that it was his first ever WRC win. He later won the Monte Carlo a record 7 times, and might even add another one this weekend.