The Sebs, Rising Generations, and the “Global” Rallycross Championship

I honestly thought it had only been a few months since my last post, but alas! It never ceases to amaze me how time marches on, how the seasons pass, and how every day there’s yet another meal to cook (but I let my husband blog about that).

The seasons are changing in the world of motorsport as well. Michael Schumacher’s dominance as we knew it has ended. Just when we thought Lewis Hamilton would succeed him, he was outshined by another German, Sebastian Vettel, who looks poised to reign supreme. Will the same happen in rally? Has a worthy pretender to Sebastien Loeb’s throne been found not in Mikko  Hirvonen or Jari-Matti Latvala, but in Sebastien Ogier? Has Ogier actually been cloned in a French lab by rally-loving geneticists who, in their rush to inject talent into the sport, accidentally gave him the same name as his forebear? Are these people behind Sebestian Vettel as well? If you name your child Sebastien, will he poop his diapers faster than the other babies?

My point is, as much as I hate change, the march of time eventually robs our heroes of their prime, and the next generation must arise. Sure, we’re still far from rally’s heyday back in the 80’s and 90’s. But as much as I hate to see Sebastien Loeb lose, we are witnessing the ascendancy of the next World Rally Champion. And we have the fortuitous opportunity to compare the old and the new, apples to apples. We’ll know, that future day when Ogier is winning rally after rally, that he is as good, or perhaps even better than, the former greats. We’ll know that rally still has masterful talent behind the wheel. We don’t have to worry that rally is losing its glory.

Loeb’s former rival, the ever-entertaining Marcus Gronholm, put himself out to pasture in 2007, at the height of his game. I understand he got a bit bored in that pasture, but in a rather remarkable turn of events, he found a way to cure his boredom and come to California! Marcus has been dabbling in rallycross for a while, but he is now driving a Ford Fiesta in the “Global” Rally Championship. This is its first year, created in response to the interest generated by the X Games’ rallycross event, and it takes place in the western US. There were only three rounds this year, of which Marcus contested two, but even if there were 15, he’d smoke the other guys every time! And I’d imagine he’ll do the same at the X Games in July. There’s just no competition…but it’s always a pleasure to see good driving for the sake of good driving.

Photo Credit: GRC/Jan Tore Brustad

Photo Credit: GRC/Jan Tore Brustad

Photo Credit: GRC/Jan Tore Brustad

Photo Credit: GRC/Jan Tore Brustad

So if you’re in LA in July, make sure to snag some tickets to the two rally events this year! Rally cars in the streets of Downtown LA? Sweet.

PS: If there are any rally-loving American geneticists reading this–would you mind going to the X Games and cloning Marcus Gronholm? America needs a WRC champion!

PSS: If/When the NBA lockout happens next year–I know what to do with the empty Staples Center!

June 27, 2011. Auto Racing, F1, Motorsport, Rally, Rallying, Thoughts, WRC. Leave a comment.

Back from the Dead!

Ouch. I haven’t posted since 2008?

It’s been so long, I forgot my own URL. I had to try my password twice.

So what made me wanna post again?

KIMI RAIKKONEN IS COMING TO THE WRC!

http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/80616

Kimi and Ferrari made as much sense as a marriage between Lt. Saavik and Roberto Benigni. Down-to-business Citroen and Kimi? Much better. Maybe this marriage can last…

Meanwhile, enjoy your Christmas and your US television coverage of the WRC on HDNet! Fa la la la la, la la la la.

December 23, 2009. Auto Racing, Citroen, F1, Motorsport, News, Rally, Rallying, Sports, WRC. Leave a comment.

Summer Break

Ah, the summer vacation. When I was in elementary school, we were super-excited about it because we were tired of school. Then, it got old really fast cuz we were bored, sitting around playing video games all day. That’s what the two month break in the WRC is like. It was a welcome break at first, but now I’m just antsy. Just two weeks to go until Rally Finland…two long weeks…

In the meantime, I’ve been reading the interim news from Motorsport News–the Donegal International Rally, Le 24 Heures du Le Mans*, WRC Commission deliberations, and Colin McRae’s awesome new R4 all-purpose race car. I’ve also spent the last few weeks falling in love with Lewis Hamilton (though my heart still belongs to Seb Loeb). The kid is so wonderful; he belongs in the World Rally fraternity, not the in the hoity toity bubble of F1. Lewis is not only ridiculously talented, he’s also humble, friendly and approachable. He’s the type of driver who would look a fan in the eyes when he’s signing an autograph.

Anyway, if residual WRC news and Lewis Hamilton isn’t enough to keep you occupied, try the X Games Rally event. And Bear Grylls. He’s the man!

*Go Stephane Sarrazin–he set pole and finished second! And he recently said that he’d love to do a WRC event again. Excuse me, Xevi Pons: you’re a good driver, but you’re in Stephane’s seat.

July 21, 2007. Auto Racing, F1, Motorsport, Thoughts, WRC. Leave a comment.

Slow news day…

I find it funny how Formula 1 journalists can pull a headline out of thin air: “Can [name] [verb] [something]?” But the WRC doesn’t receive that much scrutiny, which affords it that relaxed attitude. It’s pretty useless to ask questions you can only answer with “Um, maybe?”

But man, are there lulls in between rallies. That could be a good thing, what for all the bad news lately. (Did I mention that Gigi Galli is stuck without a drive, again?)

Sleepy time for Petter

April 26, 2007. F1, Rally, Rallying, Thoughts, WRC. Leave a comment.

The Tyre Situation

Argh. The FIA loves making rule changes that maybe improve the WRC a bit, but makes everyone mad.

If only the WRC were like Formula 1, where the teams can throw gazillions of dollars around, no problem. But we have serious issues with the cost being too high to make it feasible for the manufacturers.

Morrie Chandler is trying his best to cut costs. But cheaper is never popular or exciting. No one buys the icky, generic brand at the market for the taste–it’s cuz it’s cheaper.

So tyres are the target. First, limits on tread patterns and number of tyres. Then, no mousse. And now, a single tyre manufacturer and what looks like one type of asphalt tyre.

So Pirelli’s bid won over BF Goodrich despite their reputation as an inferior tyre, and I can see two reasons why. First, Pirelli must have been cheaper. And if everyone is running on them, then the disadvantage is spread evenly and everyone is slower. Sucky, but fair. Second, the Michelin group ran afoul of the FIA in the Indianapolis ordeal of Formula 1. They didn’t do anything wrong in the WRC, but messing up that badly in F1 sure didn’t help ’em.

Maybe there’s a third reason, like the World Motorsport Council is a committee, and committees are incapable of making a sensible decision. Me no likey this whole limits on tyres because it changes performance based on talent to performance based on equipment availability. It’s so anticlimactic when, in Norway for example, Petter and Henning had a battle going on between them for third place on the second day, but Petter lost it when he had only short studded tyres left on the third day. He had no chance of fighting. Then, imagine the havoc it’s going to cause when mousses are banned for rallies like Acropolis. I want the fastest driver to win, not the driver who happened to stay out of trouble.

So what happens to the WRC, Mr. Chandler, when costs are down, but the excitement’s gone, ratings decline, sponsors leave and the sport’s been trashed? I’m really starting to worry.

March 5, 2007. Appreciation, Auto Racing, F1, Motorsport, Rally, Rallying, Solberg, Thoughts, WRC. 3 comments.

2006 Race of Champions

Alas, Seb didn’t win. But for sitting at home for three months, second place ain’t bad.

If you haven’t heard already, the likeable Swedish DTM star and some-time rally driver Mattias Eckstrom took the title of Champion of Champions. Well-deserved.

Colin McRae took second in the rally class, being beaten only by Seb Loeb, turning things around from a rather blah start in the Nations Cup. Our beloved Scot is still in the game! *crossing fingers for more appearances in the WRC*

Finland took the Nations Cup solely on Heikki Kovalainen’s shoulders (Marcus was having a horrible night) with the good ol’ US of A taking second.

The drivers raced in the ROC buggy, an Aston Martin Rally GT, a Porsche 911 GT3, and a souped up Renault Megane. But with all these cars taking the corners in a purely straight-laced fashion, I erupted in a cheer when the first Citroen Xsara WRC came around a corner sideways. That’s the money, right there.

I actually thought it was good that a non-rally driver won. With the ROC beginning as a competition between rally drivers on an actual gravel rally stage, Eckstrom’s win proves that the event isn’t geared only towards the rally crowd. We want it to expand to include the absolute best drivers of all disciplines. The ROC is heading in a good direction. I hope it’ll find wider TV exposure than premium satellite service, even if I like watching it in glorious high-def on HDNet. And soon, we’ll get the top drivers from every country and racing discipline–then we’ll get Seb to beat ’em all. That’s my vision, anyway. 😉

December 17, 2006. Auto Racing, Citroen, F1, Motorsport, News, Rally, Rallying, Sports, 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.