FIA World Rally Championship Wales
Finishing the 2007 Wales Rally GB was sufficient for Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena (Citroën/BFGoodrich) to collect their fourth consecutive world title to join Finland's Tommi Mäkinen in world rallying's record books. The 2007 season's final showdown was won by Mikko Hirvonen ahead of his Ford/BFGoodrich team-mate Marcus Grönholm (Ford/BFGoodrich) who was contesting the 150th and last WRC rally of his career. BFGoodrich bows out of the World Championship with two more trophies to its name thanks to Loeb and BP-Ford who sewed up the Manufacturers' title a fortnight ago.
The Michelin Group's record in the WRC form 1973 until 2007*
256 wins (224 with Michelin, 32 with BFGoodrich)
23 Manufacturers' titles
20 Drivers' titles
Sébastien Loeb (Citroën/BFGoodrich) only needed to finish fifth this weekend in Wales to make sure of the 2007 Drivers' title, even had Ford/BFGoodrich's Marcus Grönholm succeeded in winning the year's finale.
The situation at the sharp end of the points table prior to the final round was crystal clear, much clearer in any case than the skies that greeted this year's entry in Wales. The conditions were simply awesome, with streaming, muddy stages, thick fog and pouring rain. Plus it got dark from four in the afternoon!
Neither Loeb nor Grönholm had any real cause to try to win at all costs, which left the outsiders a chance to make a name for themselves, including Jari-Matti Latvala (10th, Ford /BFGoodrich) - who posted 10 fastest times from a possible 17 but who was delayed by a windscreen-wiper failure on SS6 - and Mikko Hirvonen (Ford/BFGoodrich), who took his third won of the year and who will surely be one the main title contenders in 2008.
Petter Solberg (Subaru/BFGoodrich) ended up one place short of the podium behind Sébastien Loeb but scored sufficient points for Subaru to clinch third place in the Manufacturers' championship, while Matthew Wilson (Ford/BFGoodrich) succeeded in shrugging off Chris Atkinson's final day pressure.
The 2007 Wales Rally GB marked the end of BFGoodrich's adventure in the WRC. In the apace of just two seasons, the American tyre brand scored 32 world class wins, two Manufacturers' titles (with its partner Ford) and two Drivers' titles (with Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena). This year also saw BFGoodrich win the P-WRC (Production World Rally Championship) in association with Japan's Toshi Arai (Subaru).
BFGoodrich tyres won every round of the WRC, on gravel, snow and asphalt and in all types of conditions thanks to their advanced technology and sophisticated mousse run-flat system.
In 2008, BFGoodrich will pursue its involvement in rallying in the Intercontinental Rally Challenge, as well as in a number of national rally championships which promises to be fiercely contested.
THE 2007 WALES RALLY GB IN BRIEF.
A fourth world title for BFGoodrich thanks to Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena
Toshihiro Arai and BFGoodrich take the title in the Production World Rally Championship (PWRC)
Final WRC outing for the Michelin Group after a presence of 34 years in the WRC
BFGoodrich tyre choices
The wet and muddy Welsh stages actually simplified tyre choices for the BFGoodrich runners who chose the extra-soft compound g-Force Gravel '8-', with a maximum 'cut' to help clear water and mud.
Marcus Grönholm (Ford/BFGoodrich, 2007 Drivers' World Championship runner-up*)
"We leave the WRC together! It's the end of a fantastic association with the guys at Michelin and BFGoodrich. We shared so many fantastic moments and wins together. A big thank you to each and every one of you."
Sébastien Loeb (Citroën/BFGoodrich, 2007 World Rally Champion*)
"Ever since my debut, I have only ever competed on Michelin Group tyres which have helped me win 36 rallies and four world titles*. I have always had the utmost confidence in its products and enjoyed an excellent working relationship with all the engineers and technical staff. Next season marks a step into the unknown, if only because we will no longer able to benefit from the safety of the mousse run-flat system."
Matthieu Bonardel, Rallies Programme Manager, BFGoodrich
"I don't think we will ever forget our last rally in the World Championship. The conditions this year in Wales were incredible. A big bravo to Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena for their fourth world title and a big thank you, too, to all our partners and drivers who put their trust in BFGoodrich."
Wales Rally GB
1,271.94km, including 359.54km in stages
Conditions: very wet and muddy, plus fog on Day 1
Tyres used: g-Force Gravel '8-' (extra-soft)
1, Hirvonen/Lehtinen (Ford Focus WRC07), 3h 22m 50.9s.
2, Grönholm/Rautiainen (Ford Focus WRC07), +15.2s.
3, Loeb/Elena (Citroën C4 WRC), +1m 33.0s.
4, Solberg/Mills (Subaru Impreza WRC2007), +2m 57.3s.
5, Sordo/Marti (Citroën C4 WRC), +3m 14.3s.
6, Wilson/Orr (Ford Focus WRC06), +7m 32.9s.
7, Atkinson/Prévot (Subaru Impreza WRC2007), +8m 29.5s.
8, Stohl/Minor (Citroën Xsara WRC), +8m 54.6s. Etc.
Final championship standings:
1, S. Loeb (116 points).
2, M. Grönholm (112).
3, M. Hirvonen (99).
4, D. Sordo (65).
5, P. Solberg (47). Etc.
1, BP-Ford WRT (212 points).
2, Citroën-Total WRT (183).
3, Subaru WRT (87).
4, Stobart VK M-Sport Ford WRT (81).
5, OMV Kronos Citroën WRT (45).
6, Munchi.s WRT (14).* subject to official publication of the results by the FIA
BFGoodrich's record in rallying and rally-raids in 2007 *
8th Dakar win (Peterhansel/Mitsubishi)
5 wins & 10th FIA Cross-Country Rally World Cup title (Sainz/Volkswagen)
21st Baja 1000 win (Post)
16 wins & a total score of four FIA World Rally Championship titles (in 2007: Loeb and BP-Ford)
FIA Production World Rally Champions (Arai/Subaru)
8 wins & 2 Intercontinental Rally Challenge titles (Garcia Ojeda & Peugeot)
FIA European Rally Champions (Jean-Joseph/Citroën)
National titles: USA (Pastrana), France (Cuoq), Italy (Basso), Poland (Bouffier), Ireland (Donnelly), Belgium (Cols) and Spain (Fuster)