"Also, in the last sector of the Jordan power stage the works cars gained around 12 seconds on the customer cars in the last sector, which was a minute or so long, BUT it was compiled of a bunch of full throttle sections. Add a new engine formula for this year. Henning Solberg did not seem at all surprised. Coincidence? "
I haven't followed that last stage so I can't really comment on that specifically but from my personal experience I can say that I would not be surprised at all. Back in Mexico 2005 I was quickest Ford on shakedown, and then I put some competitive speed on the first loop of stages, compared to the official Fords. A little too competitive I think because first, during service I got lectured by the business manager for about a half an hour about how I had to take it easy, wait for my turn and god knows what else, I can't remember, but I remember one thing: from that point afterwards I was 1 sec/km behind the leading Ford guy all the way until Japan.
Japan was very interesting in itself because I suddenly had a rocket tied to my arse. The car went like hell. It was such a difference I had to rethink all my braking points on shakedown. This was the first rally in a long while where I could challenge the best Ford again....
Funny, isn't it? Especially since the usual engine laptop guy was gone... No sign of him over there. I know cause back in service there was this dude plugged in my car ECU and I had never seen him before so I asked: "hey, who are you and what are you doing in my car?" (In a polite way, of course) He said he was the engine guy for the rally.... Oh, ok. Turns out the car had never been so fast.
So the guy was new and unaware that I should have a "different" engine map?
I don't know, impossible to prove. All I know is the car was fast like hell and I liked it.
My deal for 2005 specifically mentioned I would have the factory car engine from Mexico onwards. But how in heaven's name do you want to check if your engine map is the same as others? Send a bailiff to seize ECU's and check them?
In my opinion it can only be a trust issue. I trusted them.
So, I don’t know what is happening to others. I can only imagine…
Bottom line is I think all WRC drivers should have equal machinery, within their respective teams. Let the drivers make the difference. Seems to me that if you hire a driver because you think he is the best for the job, why be afraid of others? On the contrary, it would only re-enforce his position as a factory driver. The sport would be subsequently much more interesting.