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Superlatives and tears
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If 2004 had been Loeb's year, how could 2005 be any better? In every way, in fact. From record equaling six wins of the previous season he went to score staggering ten wins. On top of that, he scored six consecutive wins between New Zealand and Argentina. Loeb also became France's most successful rally driver with his second title and 20th win at Catalunya, equal number of wins with Didier Auriol. All in all, Loeb and Citroen had exceptionally good season.

Much was said to be down to superior Michelin tyres and unwillingness of other manufacturers to spend money to develop their cars as technical rules would change for 2006 season. If Michelin was so superior, why didn't Loeb's team mates shine as brightly as he did and why Ford wasn't any faster, since they also used Michelin? If others didn't make any major development effort it still doesn't explain why Xsara was so much more dominant than the previous season, Citroen didn't do major development either. I think that Loeb was in similar groove of success that Gronholm was in 2002.

Not since tragedies of 1986 had sport lost so many members of prominence than it did in 2005. In summer rally fans were shocked to learn of the death of respected journalist David Williams. Only a month later co-driver Michael Park was fatally injured in an accident at Rally GB. Final shock was the passing of 2001 World Champion Richard Burns, after two years of battle against cancer.

Changes
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Not much changed in 2005. Loeb kept winning, teams kept complaining about the cost level and championship kept losing steam.

New cars
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For many, 2005 was a stopgap season as to what comes in car development. PSA's impending withdrawal left Citroen with aging but still extremely competitive Xsara and Peugeot with new but only half-developed 307WRC Evo2. Like the Peugeot, also Mitsubishi, Subaru and Skoda all introduced new version of their cars, all dubbed with names in different variations of 05-season. None of those were any major steps in any direction.

Ford went even further when they decided not to develop a 2005 car at all, instead concentrating on running old 04 Focus while designing 2006-spec low-tech car. This was introduced first time in Australia as a measure to get any problems ironed out before Monte Carlo 2006.

2005 Champions
(Click picture to see larger version in a pop-up window)
2005 FIA World Rally Champions, Sebastien Loeb and Daniel Elena Click picture to see larger version in a pop-up window
Drivers scoring their
first win
  F. Duval (Australia)
first drivers' point
  J. Pykalisto (Sardinia)
  N. Bernardi (Corsica)
  A. Bengue (Corsica)
  J. Kopecky (Catalunya)
first stage win
  A. Bengue (Monte Carlo)
  G. Galli (Sweden)
  D. Carlsson (Sweden)
  C. Atkinson (New Zealand)
  M. Higgins (Great Britain)
  D. Sola (Catalunya)
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