After their historic debut at the World Rally Championship level just a couple of days ago at Rally de España 2012, John Powell and co-driver Mike Fennell Jr. may have to actually drive in ice come next year at WRC Rally Sweden with the M-Sport Ford World Rally Team.
According to T&T’s Powell, you may have to mark February 7-10, 2013 on the calendar as he heads to Sweden with M-Sport Ford WRT. Powell added, “I believe this is a Caribbean thing, whether you are from Jamaica, Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, or elsewhere. I want to thank everybody, I didn’t get here alone…I never believed for a moment that I got here by myself. It is with good, consistent support from the spectators, my fans, my family, the media, my sponsors, Trinidad’s rally club and marshals that we are here. This is why the decision I had to make was very difficult. However, we are happy to secure a deal with M-Sport Ford World Rally Team to do a few of the championship rounds next year.”
The decision by Powell to withdraw from further stages in the competition due to an inner ear infection was based on the team doctor’s recommendations. The condition had severely affected the Caribbean rally icon, causing undue disorientation across the long stages and he felt he had to consider safety first.
Jamaica’s Mike Fennell Jr. also agreed with Powell’s decision to withdraw. He said, “WRC has been treating us good but there was the issue of health and safety at all times. Other guys from the Caribbean have been involved in WRC before but we have done it first as a manufacturer’s (works) team so that’s what made it historical. However, based on John’s health we decided that we could not continue.”
Norwegian WRC legend, Petter Solberg drove well early in Rally de España but got into an unfortunate accident and was forced out of contention. However, the experienced Solberg spoke highly about Powell joining the M-Sport Ford World Rally Team. Solberg said, “Powell is a very nice guy and he has so much passion for rallying and motorsport and it is great to see him here. Unfortunately, he got sick but I think he likes this sport a lot and I would like to see him drive again.”
France’s WRC icon Sébastien Loeb successfully defended his WRC title with Monégasque co-driver Daniel Elena in their Citroën DS 3 WRC and has now clocked 250 WRC wins, including Rally de España 2012. This is Loeb’s eighth overall victory in the Spanish round, thus winning all the editions held since the rally moved to the Costa Daurada. He said, “I am very happy to have won the Rally-RACC once more and another World Championship. It was an amazing year for me but next year I still don’t know what I will do.” Jari-Matti Latvala came second in a Ford Fiesta RS WRC and Mikko Hirvonen placed third in a Citroën DS 3 WRC.