Shortened Calendar for 2009

It’s sad, but necessary I suppose. The 2009 WRC season is set to run 12 events. That’s four fewer weekends of rally madness. Now, whether that will be rotating through 24 events, as proposed earlier, that’s to be announced in October (I hope not).

The World Motor Sport Council also decided (in principle) that World Rally cars will be based on Group N and S2000 cars.

That means costs are significantly reduced for the manufacturers. I hope that resolves the financial issues once and for all. I don’t want to hear any more complaints about high costs and penny pinching.

To those four rallies about to get the ax: I will miss you.

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June 27, 2007. News, Rally, Rallying, Sports, WRC. Leave a comment.

Rally Animals: Kangaroos

Kangaroos are evil. I base this opinion on the 2005 Rally Australia alone. Never mind that there were no problems in 2006. They did enough damage in 2005 to earn them a spot on the blacklist forever.First, one kangaroo “the size of a horse” ran into Harri Rovanpera’s Mitsu. It didn’t cause terminal damage, but it wasn’t for lack of trying. This is especially inexcusable, as Harri is one of the nicest guys in the WRC.

Evidence of evil, exhibit A

Then, a second kangaroo leaps out directly in front of rally leader Petter Solberg’s car, meaning he’s leader no more. Outrageous. The rock in Japan robbed Petter of a win also, but it was an inanimate object with no evil intent. This kangaroo heaped another serving of heartbreak on Petter’s plate of sadness, with all intent and deliberation.

Petter - Damage to the radiator

PS: The Subaru team bought inexpensive Roo Shoo’s for their cars in 2006. Problem solved. Evil defeated.

June 27, 2007. Animals, Auto Racing, Motorsport, Rally, Rallying, Solberg, WRC. Leave a comment.

Why I Love Rally, Reason #16

It’s that time of year, when the WRC takes a summer holiday and I busy myself with other things. Like getting a full night’s sleep for two whole months. The entire series may be in tough times, but I want to take a moment and remember why I fell in love with the WRC in the first place.

The spectacular images.

When I see photos of other racing series, I see car, car, car, car and some other car. On a circuit. Turning maybe. Some wrecks in gravel traps or into tyre barriers.

When I see photos of rallying, I see jumps! Crests! Mud thrown everywhere! Mountain scenery! Cliffs! Cars driving with no wheels! Rolls! Sideways drifts!

It’s all pretty freakin’ awesome. Empirically speaking.

Just another day in the office for Mikko and Jarmo The rally way around a corner, courtesy of Manfred Stohl

June 15, 2007. Auto Racing, Motorsport, Rally, Rallying, Why I Love Rally, WRC. 1 comment.

Various Seb Loeb News

Congratulations to Sebastien Loeb and his wife Severine, who announced the eminent arrival of a baby who will probably start rallying in his stroller.

Flash forward to 2030: he and Oliver Solberg will be battling it out in front. They’ll be codriven by the Elena and Mills children. Plus the Stohl baby, who will drive a privateer car.

Additionally, Seb will enter the tarmac Donegal Rally in Ireland next weekend (June 15-17). As experienced as they are, the guys of the Irish Tarmac Championship are going up against the world’s best driver on asphalt, whose nickname contains the word “super.” It’s like Bruce Lee versus a troupe of ballerinas. No contest!

June 9, 2007. News, Rally, Rallying, Solberg, WRC. Leave a comment.

Thoughts: 2007 Acropolis Rally and Procrastination

It’s Thursday now, for most of the world, and I am now posting my thoughts on a rally that ended Sunday. I could ramble on about procrastination and my excuses, but this is a blog about rally, not a blog about feelings. But we do have a two month (*involuntary shudder*) break, so there’s plenty of time to stew over the Acropolis Rally and the first half of the season.

First off, day one was crazy awesome! The competition all weekend was amazing. Petter taking a position from Seb? Atko took Gronholm’s lead?! That says it all.

That’s the first podium with all three of the Big Three since Argentina 2005. I hope Marcus is happy. Happy enough to stay around for 2008. I think a points deficit during the summer break would have tipped the scales toward retirement. Now, he’s got a nine point lead. That’s even more than he’d been planning for. He needs a big buffer zone to hold off Loeb in the four upcoming tarmac events.

Seb wasn’t fastest. I have to take a moment to let that compute. He wasn’t a match for Marcus all weekend. He’s got a lot to do if he wants to catch up and win his fourth consecutive world title. I hope all the ad campaigns and photo shoots aren’t affecting his concentration.

This will sound odd, but my gut is pretty much 100% correct in predicting Petter Solberg’s rally. In last year’s Rally Australia, I literally knew from day one that Petter would have a great result. From Monte to Sardinia, I could feel that Petter would have bad luck or make mistakes. On Friday, I made a prediction to myself: Petter would have problems, but they’d be non-terminal and he’d have a decent finish near the top. I’m psychic! But only in Petter-related matters.

That’s also only the 2nd rally this year that Mikko hasn’t finished in the top three (counting Rear Windowgate). Mikko recovered well from Saturday’s scary off. He looked a bit rattled after it, but has driven the rest of the rally without any problems or wariness. I think they call that maturity. 🙂

I think Jari-Matti is the Wonderboy of the season, like Dani was last year. He’s new, fresh-faced, quick and exciting. His poor results nearly matches Matthew Wilson’s, but he’s got talent that nearly matches the top drivers. At least when he crashes out, he does it while going very fast.

Subaru finishes with two cars in the top six. That’s a big step for them. Henning kind of wasted his momentum; he’d done well in Sardinia and does score a 5th place here, but his drive has been rather uninspiring and forgettable. Dani, if he’d had a working gearbox, would’ve done great. He’s been setting good, if not excellent, times. Jan Kopecky in his little Skoda finishes in a fine 7th place. That’s ahead of the Citroen Xsara of Manfred Stohl. Not bad. Poor Manfred though. He must have expected a much faster car when he signed with Kronos.

So the first half of the season ends and the two month break begins, with many questions raised and left unanswered. Is this the beginning of Seb’s decline? Has this win inspired Marcus enough to keep him driving for another year? Is the Impreza really going to be quick and reliable from here on out? Is Jari-Matti going to keep wowing the judges? Will Henning or Atko ever string two good rallies together? Has Dani found his groove and gotten to grips with gravel? How will anyone survive this rally without mousse inserts next year? Will Petter keep his goatee? Does anyone in the world know the answers? Nope! Bring on the angst.

Phil’s super happy too! Henning’s Focus plays in the dirt

June 6, 2007. Citroen, Ford, Rally, Rally Reports, Rallying, Solberg, Subaru, Thoughts, WRC. Leave a comment.

Acropolis Rally: Day One Thoughts

I’ve only seen day one, and it’s already shaping up to be a great rally! If only Rally Radio were on, it’d be a phenomenal rally. Let me get out a *sigh* right now…OK, I’m good.

So eight stages, six stage winners. Plus an uncountable number of position changes. And after a full day’s rallying, there’s less than 11 seconds separating the top six. Super Seb isn’t even in the top three. Both Subarus are. Atko took over Gronholm’s lead for four stages. Dani Sordo won a stage. It’s all so crazy!

I’ve got my fingers crossed that Petter will finish on the podium. My gut’s telling me that he’ll finish somewhat well, but Lady Luck hasn’t finished her diss on him yet.

And though I’d rather  have Seb win, I think Marcus has got the beating of Loeb on this rally. But this is the Acropolis Rally, the Big Mama Carbreaker. It’d be pointless to make predictions now, here or for any other rally. Such is rallying!

In the absence of WRR and decent reporting on wrc.com, here’s a link to motorsport.com’s leg one round-up and the overall standings.

Of course he’s happy, he’s leading!       Look! Duval made it here! But he only got to SS5.

June 1, 2007. Appreciation. Leave a comment.