Dani Sordo came heartbreakingly close to finishing third for Ford after a one-off drive this weekend in Argentina, following Jari-Matti Latvala’s indiscretion with a pair of skis. But he’s far from the only driver who has been given an unexpected outing as a result of another man’s spectacular misfortune.
Colin McRae, Rally of Turkey 2006
When Sebastien Loeb fell off a mountain bike and broke the ball joint that connects his right arm to his shoulder in four places, it hurt. But it wasn’t quite as painful as the phone call he had to make to Guy ‘Grizzly’ Frequelin, who was Citroen’s formidable team boss at the time. Frequelin asked McRae to come and deputise, with the Scot running in the bottom half of the top 10 before retiring close to the finish with an electrical problem. He wasn’t asked back.
Petter Solberg, Safari Rally 1999
Regular driver Thomas Radstrom broke his leg just before the Safari Rally, under circumstances that the Ford team tried gamely to keep under wraps, but could be fairly described as “spirited horseplay”. Not that any horses were involved: it was more a question of an unfortunate rugby tackle. However, this enabled Petter Solberg to make his Safari debut with the Ford Focus, finishing an excellent fifth overall despite being called up at the very last minute.
Check out the highlights of the 1999 Safari Rally...
Harri Rovanpera, Rallye Deutschland 2002
The official line peddled by Peugeot was that their asphalt ace Gilles Panizzi had broken his shoulder after falling off a ladder while changing a light bulb at his house: the sort of excuse that is so bizarre it might actually be true. Harri Rovanpera was even more strangely appointed as his replacement: a driver who admitted that he was “terrible” on asphalt events. He wasn’t lying: Harri retired on SS19, having failed to trouble the frontrunners.
Ride with Colin McRae in the 2002 Rallye Deutschland below...
Justin Dale, Rally Great Britain 2002
Alister McRae fell off his mountain bike while training before Sanremo, and the impact tore his liver: a rare but extremely serious internal injury that can be fatal if not treated in time. His surprise replacement for Rally Great Britain in the factory Mitsubishi was former British Super 1600 champion Justin Dale: a massive leap for the young Englishman. After a great start, Justin rolled on the opening morning and the damage to the rollcage was too great for him to continue.
Here's Justin in action...
Marc Marti, Catalunya Rally 2002
Yes, 2002 was a vintage year for injury, But this time it wasn’t a driver who had got himself into trouble: it was instead Luis Moya, Carlos Sainz’s regular co-driver, who had slipped on some steps and broken his ankle. So Marc Marti stepped in to navigate on Sainz’s home event – but the duo retired in front of their home crowd after going off the road.
Marc marti may have retired, but Gilles Panizzi had fun at the 2002 Catalunya Rally...