Why I Love Rally, Reason #9

The guys who hand-cut tyres. I don’t know why, but I like.

Pirelli Competizioni guy cutting tyres

November 29, 2006. Auto Racing, Mistubishi, Motorsport, Rally, Rallying, Sports, Subaru, Why I Love Rally, WRC. 1 comment.

Why I Love Rally, Reason #8

Clearly-labeled cars. A simple thing, but it makes spectating so much easier. (Are you listening, Formula 1?)

Gigi Galli
(Gigi Galli and Giovanni Bernacchini, 2006 Rallye Automobile Monte Carlo)

November 28, 2006. Auto Racing, F1, Mistubishi, Motorsport, Rally, Rallying, Sports, Why I Love Rally, WRC. Leave a comment.

Why I Love Rally, Reason #7

They drive on this:
 Panzerplatte
(Rallye Deutschland, Baumholder, Panzerplatte stage)

Not this:
 Indianapolis Motor Speedway
 (Indianapolis Motor Speedway: Drive around oval. Repeat 200 times.)

November 28, 2006. Auto Racing, Motorsport, Rally, Rallying, Sports, Why I Love Rally, WRC. 1 comment.

Why I Love Rally, Reason #6

Whatever brand of bravery–or insanity–that pushes drivers to speed over 100 mph on this:

seb-driving-on-edge-of-monte-cliff.jpg

November 28, 2006. Auto Racing, Citroen, Motorsport, Rally, Rallying, Sports, Why I Love Rally, WRC. 1 comment.

Only in Rally…

Actually, only with Henning!

Poor Cato!

Watersplash without a windscreen. And this is after driving a stage in the cold rain.

Which was after getting hot water splashed in his face with a broken water pipe. That’s the second time* this year!

(Henning Solberg and Cato Menkerud, 2006 Rally New Zealand, SSS11.)
*I couldn’t believe it the first time. 2006 Cyprus Rally, Leg 2.

November 22, 2006. Auto Racing, Motorsport, Only In Rally, Peugeot, Rally, Rallying, Solberg, Sports, The Adventures of Henning Solberg, WRC. Leave a comment.

Happy Birthday, Francois Duval!

We haven’t seen much of the Belgian this year, but let’s hope he’ll have more WRC in his 26th year. So, on with the appreciating!

Gotta love…

how he sticks his tongue waaay out when the stage gets twisty.
how he’s quite shy with his English, but sucks it up and talks to the reporters anyway (sometimes).
his cool French name…Francois. Sounds a heckuva lot better than Frank. Sorry to any Franks I’ve just offended.
the almost comedic way he was destroying Xsaras in early 2005. (We got to saying, “he pulled a Francois!”)
then how he shaped up and started getting great results. Like the win in Australia!

I hope he gets to drive more rallies and hone his art, because there’s talent there. Happy birthday, Francois!

November 19, 2006. Appreciation, Auto Racing, Citroen, Ford, Motorsport, Rally, Rallying, Sports, WRC. Leave a comment.

And New Zealand wraps up…

…the WRC Manufacturer’s title and the PWRC title.

Congrats to Ford! As a fan of Seb Loeb and the previously untouchable Citroen Xsara, the two-win debut of the Ford Focus this season had me worried. But instead of antagonizing me, it won me over. It is an amazing car. It’s not only the most attractive car out there, it drives like a dream. Kudos to Malcolm Wilson and the Ford team, and to Christian Loriaux and his design team at M-Sport. Well-deserved.

Congrats to Nassar Al-Attiyah. PWRC, Dakar, shooting–what does this guy not do? Plus, he’s a good guy.

Yes, Marcus Gronholm won the rally, Mikko Hirvonen drove home to 2nd place, and Ford won the title, but I’ve been super-impressed by how much Xevi Pons has grown since his low point in Deutschland amidst the grapevines. His second 4th place in a row, but he was this close to a podium position, if he had the right tyre choice in the fickle NZ weather. I’m looking forward to seeing how he’ll go in Wales Rally GB and next season.

Nineteen-year-old Matt Wilson’s improving as well. Now that I’ve seen him drive whole stages and he’s setting decent times, I’m keen to see how he’ll do this coming year. He’s not just the boss’ spoiled son getting to drive in Daddy’s team–Matt can drive quite steadily and knows what it’s like to win a rally. I think there’s talent there.

What I really want to see is Chris Atkinson getting some results. It’s been a whole season, and he’s still putting the car off the road every rally. The speed is there, but he can’t keep it in check. But I’m still a fan. He’s extremely likeable. Actually, what I really want to see what his new haircut looks like, because his hair’s been a little funky lately.

I’m also starting to think that Manfred Stohl doesn’t know how to be anything other than subdued. Second podium in a row, but if you’d only heard his voice, you’d have thought he had finished 8th. Cheer up, man! Go ride your unicycle!

And last, I’m about to write love letters to the Eye in the Sky. Live helicopter coverage of every stage? Why doesn’t everyone do this? I hope the other rally organizers take note, because I don’t know how I can go back to Eye-less coverage now. The only thing missing was watching Sebastien Loeb on the Eye in the Sky. That would have been devastatingly awesome.

I’m off to watch Petter drive the Waipu Caves stage on the Ignition DVD. Woohoo!

November 19, 2006. Auto Racing, Citroen, Ford, Motorsport, Rally, Rally Reports, Rallying, Solberg, Sports, Subaru, WRC. Leave a comment.

Happy Birthday, Petter Solberg!

It’s the big 3-2 for Mr. Hollywood!

The lovable Norweigan could do with some birthday cheer, as he’s having a tough time in New Zealand. So let’s band together and appreciate:

His speed. We know he’s just as fast as Seb and Marcus, if his car would let him be.
His pluck and persistence–through these luckless two years being plagued by technical problems, driver errors, rocks, Pirelli tyres, and kangaroos.
His obvious respect for the whole Subaru team–he knows it’s not all about him.
On the same note, his respect for his competitors. No bad-mouthing and quick with the compliments.
The Petter Solberg fan songs.
That he looks really good in Subaru blue.
The PIG! (Which deserves its own post…coming soon!)
All the funny photo-ops.
All the funny quotes. And the other sounds that can’t really be quoted.
Ouninpohja 2004. Props for holding the record time for the fastest stage in the WRC. 
How he drives cars while he’s standing outside the car, waving! How does he do it?!
The way his mouth hangs open when he’s really concentrating.
He’s a great driver, but not a great male model. But then again, all the models they use for the Subaru and Petter Solberg clothing lines are weird.
How he really really wants to win! He hasn’t for almost two years, but he’ll never give up.
And when he does win, how he tears the page off Phil’s notebook and jumps on the car.

Best wishes for luck, victory and happiness to the WRC’s most beloved driver!

Petter humoring Neil Cole, Mexico 2006     Jolly good fun in Sweden 2006     Off guard in Argentina 2006

November 18, 2006. Appreciation, Auto Racing, Motorsport, Rally, Rallying, Solberg, Subaru, WRC. 1 comment.

Belated start to Rally New Zealand

It’s day 2 now, and it’s been a fun rally so far.

That is, until this very moment, because Chris Atkinson has stopped in the stage, and is having a very crazy “only in rally” moment. He stopped in the stage to change a puncture, put the car up on their jack, but the jack sank in the mud and the car plopped back down! Now they have to find a way to prop the car up enough to change the tyre. How weird is that?

But backtracking a bit, this is the second rally for 7-time MotoGP world champion Valentino Rossi (but the first one lasted half a stage, so I count this as his debut). In the pre-event press conference, he said he was hoping for a podium. I like the guy and respect his racing skills highly, but podium? Huh. Big words for a guy on his first real outing. He’s the slowest out of the WRC drivers. Silly boy, thinking he could beat the veterans. But you’ve got to give him credit for keeping the car on the road and having fun. It’s great listening to him talk–so animated! So Italian! And every new stage he drives becomes his new favorite stage. He’s lovin’ it.

The rain, though, has made things tough. I think the gloomy skies make the drivers sad, cuz Manfred Stohl sounded pretty depressed. He can be such a sad sack sometimes. I think it’s his gentle nature (see “leetle cow” incident/tragedy). Henning Solberg sounded like a normal person, not the lovable, bouncing-of-the-walls madman that he usually is. That probably means he’s crying inside. After all, he thought he was going to die in that 180 kph crash in Australia three weeks ago.

There have been some real “GO CITROEN!” moments–Dani Sordo and Xevi Pons have stepped it up! Dani’s in third and Xevi is fifth (maybe up to fourth?) and even beat Mikko on a stage today. Atko won that stage, but pft.  Doesn’t matter now. *pout* It’s really good to see Dani performing on gravel. He’s had such a bad string of rallies since that scary crash in Finland (plus the seatbelt lapse in Japan, the roll in Cyprus, then that senseless crash in the final super special stage). He’s happy now. I like Happy Dani.

I also like Happy Xevi. He had a blah run at the start of the season. Then, he took a vacation during Japan, and ta-dah! He came back renewed and started setting all these great times and getting great finishes. Good for him! He should go on more vacations! I should go on a vacation…to Wales on December 1-3…

Anyway, Te Akau North (SS10) is the infamous stage where Carlos Sainz hit the sheep in the late 90’s. Matt Wilson was just a kid back then, and one of his big rally memories is seeing that Ford come back into service with bits of sheep on it. Ew.

And the stage just keeps getting more infamouser. Henning Solberg’s rolled the car (Petter says that’s normal for him. Heh!) and lost his windscreen (again). No snow this time, but there’s freezing rain in his face! I guess it cancels out the hot water spraying him in the face yesterday from that leaking water pipe. Rolls make most people sad, but Henning gets really peppy. And yup–he comes into time control laughing and smiling. But will he drive back to service and do the super special, sans windscreen and Cato’s window? You betcha. He wants to show people he can do it, extra wind and all. And boy, can he! He threw that car around those corners and that water splash, and, if it weren’t for those Foci, he would have set the fastest time! Rallying shouldn’t be such ridiculous good fun…

And finally, what I really want to see is when the intercom went on the fritz during SS6 and made Glenn Macneall sound like a girl.

Plus the onboards of cow that Takuma Kamada and the very sophisticated Denis Giraudet almost hit. Sorry, not cow–“big milky.”  Thanks for that, Denis! (“Look at the cow, Amberie!” “What…cow? Oh! A big milky! Why didn’t you say so?”)

November 18, 2006. Auto Racing, Citroen, Ford, Motorsport, Only In Rally, Peugeot, Rally, Rally Reports, Rallying, Solberg, Sports, Subaru, The Adventures of Henning Solberg, WRC. Leave a comment.

Happy Birthday, Timo Rautiainen!

Monday was my favorite co-driver’s b-day!

Just take a moment and truly appreciate…
his impeccable pacenotes (I never hear Marcus correcting them),
the way he rrrrolls his R’s (“kiraa, kiraa”),
the way he calms Marcus’ nerves and puts him in his place sometimes,
how he isn’t fazed by those spectacular crashes,
that hilarious yet desert dry humor of his,
how he soldiers on despite his back injuries, 
his nifty-sounding name,
how he personally answers fan questions on the official Marcus Gronholm message board,
and the fact that he doesn’t really know how to play baseball.*

Who knows where Marcus would be without Timo?
Where would we be without Timo? Um…the same place, I guess. But our (rally) lives would be less complete. 🙂

*Shakedown, 2006 Rally Japan. Great Timo moments in that show. 

November 15, 2006. Appreciation, Auto Racing, Ford, Motorsport, Peugeot, Rally, Rallying, Sports, WRC. 1 comment.

Why I Love Rally, Reason #5

The way rally cars kick up mud.

I like being sanitary, but splash this mud all over me, any day!

Rally mud!

November 15, 2006. Auto Racing, Motorsport, Rally, Rallying, Solberg, Subaru, Why I Love Rally, WRC. Leave a comment.

Why I Love Rally, Reason #4:

WORLD RALLY RADIO!

Live splits, in-depth analysis, witty banter, and weird Europop. Now that’s entertainment. Each member of the team deserves their own post, but take a moment and marvel at their greatness.  *marvel*

November 12, 2006. Rally, Rallying, Why I Love Rally, WRC. Leave a comment.

Why I Love Rally, Reason #3:

164 kph…on ice!

That’s 102 mph, for us Americans.

(Sebastien Loeb, 2006 Uddeholm Swedish Rally, SS 3)

November 12, 2006. Auto Racing, Citroen, Motorsport, Rally, Rallying, Sports, Why I Love Rally, WRC. Leave a comment.

Fanfare!

Welcome one, welcome all! If you’re a serious WRC fan who really isn’t all that serious, then bienvenido to my blog–home to all the rally trivia, analysis and weirdness that I can conjure up.

I love rallying. Absolutely adore it. Not only because it’s the world’s most challenging and dramatic motorsport, but also because it’s got quirks and all-around insanity. So bit by bit, I’ll let it be known why I love rally and why you should too.

So here’s a start:
Rally, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways…

Why I Love Rally, Reason #1
You can roll the car, slam it down on a tree trunk, and then drive another 337 km with dust in your throat and your eyeballs…
(Well, maybe you can’t, but Marcus can. Marcus Gronholm & Timo Rautianen, 2006 Telstra Rally Australia, SS3)

Why I Love Rally, Reason #2
…and then, set the third fastest stage time two stages after that roll.
(All hail to the Big Finn and his Focus! And someone get Timo a cough drop. Marcus Gronholm & Timo Rautianen, 2006 Telstra Rally Australia, SS5)

November 9, 2006. Auto Racing, Ford, Motorsport, Peugeot, Rally, Rallying, Sports, Why I Love Rally, WRC. 1 comment.