WRC hots up, Irish to be key players and critical weekend for Hamilton
WRC title race reignited
The WRC drivers’ title race is back on following Sébastien Ogier’s much-needed victory in Turkey last weekend.
It was, amazingly, the Frenchman’s first triumph since March, as he closed the gap to leader Ott Tanak, who fell down the order, to 17 points in the standings.
The only other title contender, Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville, could only manage eighth - leaving Ogier as the big winner of the day.
Ogier is aiming for a seventh consecutive drivers’ crown to continue his dominance since Sébastien Loeb last became champion in 2012.
Remarkably, only those two have won titles since 2003 – with Loeb having previously won nine titles on the spin prior to Ogier’s seven.
And with only three rounds now left, in Wales, Spain and Australia, it’s far from out of the question that the French flag will fly highest again come November.
Credit: Mahmut Cinci / Red Bull Content Pool
Meek continues to play his part
Sticking with WRC, Northern Ireland’s Kris Meeke backed up his first podium of the season in Germany last month with another solid showing in Turkey.
He rounded out seventh to take a handy six points – keeping himself fifth in the drivers’ standings but, more importantly, contributing to the constructors’ fight.
Although it was a stronger weekend on the whole for Hyundai, Meeke’s drive helps keep Toyota stay within touching distance – 19 points behind with three rounds to go.
His solid form could yet see this one go to the wire.
Breen is back!
Another man hailing form Irish shores is also set to play a crucial part in the destination of the WRC constructors’ title.
It was confirmed at the beginning of the month that Craig Breen will return for Rally GB at the beginning of October.
Breen finished a solid seventh in his only outing of the season at Rally Finland back in August, to aid Hyundai’s bid for a maiden manufacturers’ trophy.
And he’s been summoned again by the Korean outfit to help deliver alongside drivers’ championship contender Neuville and Andreas Mikkelsen.
His presence, alongside Meeke, means Irish talent will certainly have a big part to play in the outcome of the final 2019 WRC picture.
Biggest race of the season for Lewis
From WRC to F1, and this weekend couldn’t be bigger for Lewis Hamilton as he guns for that sixth drivers’ championship.
It’s far from do or die – the Brit is 65 points clear of Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas and more than 100 clear of the in-form Charles Leclerc at Ferrari.
But it’s the nature of the iconic Singapore circuit this weekend that means Hamilton will want to be at his absolute best.
The Marina Bay Street Circuit, while hosting plenty of super-fast sections, possesses a series of corners designed for lapping at a much slower speeds. In simpler terms, where Mercedes are dominant compared to rivals.
Those slam-on-the-brake chicanes and mega tight bends play into their hands, and they’re expected to be a level above the likes of Ferrari and Red Bull as a result.
So, essentially, a win for Hamilton may not come in easier circumstances again in 2019. Doing so and extending his overall lead to anything up to 80 points with six races then remaining, would surely all but secure him his latest crown.