2012…The Year of Rally?

It’s official. The NBA is locking out its players for the 2012 season, unless the players decide to take a few less million dollars’ salary out of the goodness of their heart so that some of the smaller teams can actually turn a profit.
The NFL is well into their lockout, which (I hope) ends when the team owners agree to compensate the poor players who are getting their brains turned into jelly.
So that leaves baseball (slow), hockey (where’s the puck?) and NASCAR (shudder) to fill up 24 hours/365 days of gab-gab-gabbing on ESPN next year.
Hey! Show the American people some rally and F1!
That would break up the all-baseball Top Ten Play compilations, at least.
One can dream!
I hope the NBA hurries up, because I can’t wait to see “World Peace” on the back of this man’s jersey.

Advertisements

June 30, 2011. News, Rally, Sports, Thoughts. 1 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.

Rally Report: Wales Rally GB 2007

I still don’t believe it. How could that have been the end of the season already? How could that have been Marcus Gronholm’s last rally? Writing a report is really tough when you’re still in a state of denial.

I guess Sebastien and Marcus left me wanting more. We’d all expected an out-and-out showdown, with the two of them pushing each other to the limit like they’ve done so many times this year. However, stage one started with a stage win for…Mikko?! I love them both immensely, but I guess you’ve got to miss the spirit of rallying that came with larger-than-life heroes like Colin McRae who never drove less than flat out. Seb and Marcus went steadily. Marcus waited for Seb to slip up, and Seb waited for the rally to be over. And in the meantime, they let Jari-Matti Latvala steal the show.

Jari-Matti is so hot right now. He come out of nowhere, winning all nine proper stages on days two and three! Never mind that he was running second on the road. Even when he claimed he was slowing down to stay safe, he still came out fastest. Does this mean he’s stepped up to the top level? The Jari-Matti Theatre marquee should read: “Speed! Experience! Personality!” And then Malcolm Wilson will buy out all the tickets. Well, he’d be daft not to.
And while I’m wondering if Jari-Matti is stepping up to the top level, I’m a bit more secure in saying Mikko has. If he hasn’t, then next year will be less of a thrill and more of a monotone. Anyway, I’m sure Mikko wanted to prove that he could win a rally fair and square against Seb and Marcus on a really classic rally. This was his last chance, but neither Seb nor Marcus were driving at maximum attack. I don’t think it was an even comparison. That’s got to be annoying. Nonetheless, Mikko must be quite pleased to have four first place trophies to call his own.

But how amazing must it be to have four world championships to your name? Sebastien Loeb would know. Despite an unexciting drive that bored him to tears, Seb was genuinely elated to have cinched the title again. There is absolutely no doubt to how immense his talent is or whether the title was deserved. Seb was there scoring points when Marcus crashed out in Ireland. That’s it.

If we fans were to name the world rally champion, then it’d be handed to Marcus by a unanimous vote. He stuck it out for years in a gremlin-cursed Peugeot 307. Then in 2006, he finally got behind the wheel of a truly amazing car–catch is, it had some kinks to work out. Then 2007 was looking good until Rally Ireland. It was new and horrendously difficult. And it was tarmac. Wet tarmac. And that was the final nail in the coffin for Marcus’ title hopes. Such a shame. But we will always, always love him wish that he were still rallying.

The rest of my thoughts:

Petter actually made it through without a major catastrophe, finishing fourth. At least he doesn’t have to start his vacation with any anguish. He’ll be working obsessively with the team to improve the car, I’m sure.

Dani Sordo finished a fine fifth place amidst the worst Welsh weather any of the drivers had ever seen. And the best Dani Sordo moment? Hearing him speak French!

Matthew Wilson is getting more consistent, even when the weather throws a torrential rainstorm at him. Speed? Not so much. But I definitely do not mean any ill will towards him. He is perfectly welcome to prove us all wrong in a year by setting scratch times. Sixth place, coming off of a fourth in Japan, ends the year on a high note for the young Brit.

Chris Atkinson is not a happy chap. Being seventh place in the rally and in the championship isn’t horrible, but Atko seemed to take it very hard. He obviously thinks he has enough talent to challenge for victory, but his machinery fails him. He and Petter might be a bit masochistic to renew their contracts with Subaru, because who knows when the car’s going to improve.

Manfred Stohl finished in eighth. And although he says he’s still looking for a drive next year, it somehow seems like it’s the end of Manfred’s WRC career. I hope I’m wrong.

I was going to write about Xevi Pons, but I can’t remember what happened to him in this rally except that it didn’t go well. That’s how it’s been for him lately, I’m afraid.

Luis Perez Companc went off the road on day three. Maybe it’s a conspiracy. They didn’t want Matt Wilson to look so bad, so they went and found the perfect diversion–a guy who is even slower, even more prone to crashing, and with all the money in the world to pay for his drive. Sounds mean, but honestly, Toni Gardemeister deserves a drive more than Luis does.

Last note: props to Travis Pastrana. He is the two-time Rally America champion, but can still admit to being schooled on the world scene. Pwned, even. I really really really hope he makes it out to as many PWRC events as possible next year. Great guy.

So that’s it then, in a rather large nutshell. My rally notes contain many more juicy tidbits, but I don’t know if I want to be liable for posting them. But keep coming back throughout the break. I’ll be posting odds and ends as often as I can. Hasta luego.

The last we’ll see them together… Rally winner Mikko Hirvonen

Jari-Matti’s stage-winning streak The rolling car of Andreas Mikkelsen

December 5, 2007. Auto Racing, Motorsport, Rally, Rally Reports, Rallying, Sports, WRC. 3 comments.

Why I Love Rally, Reason #18

Beauty is a car sliding sideways around a corner.

I maintain that our rally drivers could out-drift drifting champions. It’s simply one of the many driving techniques that they must master. They have so much car control and sideways experience. It’s business as usual.

Behold:

The other guys are good…

But that’s just Monte Carlo, really.

October 4, 2007. Auto Racing, Motorsport, Rally, Rallying, Sports, Why I Love Rally, WRC. 1 comment.

Rally America on ESPN2

Oops. I missed the first installment myself, but I’ve got the torrent running as we speak.

But you are not doomed to repeat my mistake! Study this schedule! Promise yourself you will not miss a single show! (Especially if you have an HDTV. Rally in HD has got to be gorgeous.)

Rally America Schedule - too lazy to type it out…

July 6, 2007. Rally, Rallying, Sports. Leave a comment.

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.

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

Rally Animals: Sheep

The WRC seems to gravitate toward countries with high concentrations of sheep. And in a place like Wales or New Zealand, where there are more sheep than people, well… the law of averages means it’s inevitable for rally car and wool to meet.

Rally New Zealand 1997: the infamous encounter between Carlos Sainz, Luis Moya and Mr. Sheep.

The story goes that an itty-bitty Matthew Wilson was permanently scarred by the shreds of meat on the Escort coming into service. Apparently, it was both the sight and smell, as the engine was hot enough to barbeque the mutton. 😛

Lamb chops, anyone?

May 29, 2007. Animals, Auto Racing, Ford, Motorsport, Rally, Rallying, Sports, WRC. Leave a comment.

Thoughts: Sweden and Norway

Who doesn’t love a snow rally?

But rather than give a recap, here are some random thoughts:

The C4 is quick enough, but not quicker than the Focus. So it has the same engine and suspension as the Xsara? So what has Citroen been doing the past four years? I hope it’ll get a new engine soon, because I don’t see how a car older than Sebastien Loeb’s career could possibly be competitive for much longer.

Snowbanks are evil blackholes and destroyers of hope.

Swedish rally fans find the funniest hats. You can’t buy those here in the US.

And you can’t beat their dedication either. Minus 23 degrees C, and they’re still out in the forest watching rally cars zoom by.

Toni Gardemeister is contending for the top five in an outdated Mitsu Lancer that wasn’t competitive even when it was new. The man deserves a drive, people!

I don’t like talk of Marcus Gronholm’s retirement. But you can see his motivation and enthusiasm waning with each passing rally. He looked like he couldn’t wait for Rally Norway to be over. Motivational issues aside, it must have been embarrassing to be outpaced all weekend by the #2 driver.

How impressive was Mikko Hirvonen? He held the lead from stage one and was faster than no less than three world champions. One of them was in the same machinery. Everything about him just screams “world champion!” The question is, “how soon?”

Seb had a…bad (?!) rally. I have literally never seen him finish lower than second. I don’t even know how to cope yet. But he’s been honest and upbeat–not anything like Marcus’ glazed look all weekend.

Petter and Chris couldn’t wait to get the heck out of the 2006 Impreza, I’m sure. I think Prodrive should take it out back and burn it. Keep your fingers crossed that the S14 isn’t the dreambuster that the S12 was.

Speaking of Solbergs, Henning is coming out of nowhere to regularly beat former world champion Petter. Leave it to the Solbergs to both entertain, and to have the most awesome colored cars ever. I just can’t wait to see if Henning can move up to the top level alongside Seb and Marcus.

Poor Becs Williams tore some ligaments in her hand. And she didn’t get the sympathy she deserved!

Dani Sordo’s inexperience really shows in the events where he’s a fish out of water. Or a Spaniard out of the sun. Or something. I hope he breaks out of his tarmac expert label, because he’ll need to in order to be world champion.

Jari-Matti Latvala is impressing me too. If he matures and quits making silly mistakes, he certainly has the speed to be a champion.

Alrighty then. There’s my two cents until Rally Mexico. I can’t wait to see how Travis Pastrana does!

February 19, 2007. Auto Racing, Citroen, Ford, Mistubishi, Motorsport, Rally, Rally Radio, Rally Reports, Rallying, Solberg, Sports, Subaru, Thoughts, WRC. Leave a comment.

Dakar Rally

Heads up: the Dakar Rally started today. If you’re in the US, you can find a 30 minute highlights show every day on Versus (formerly the Outdoor Life Network). Among the entries are Bruno Saby, Freddy Loix, Nasser Al-Attiyah, and rally legends Markku Alen, Carlos Sainz, Ari Vatanen, and Miki Biasion. Yowza, what an entry list!

If you don’t know what the Dakar is, it’s basically a weeks-long rally (race) in the African desert. It’s insane, it’s extreme, and it’s got rally gods coming out of retirement to drive. Kinda nice.

Here are links to the story and the official site.

January 7, 2007. Auto Racing, Dakar Rally, Motorsport, News, Rally, Rallying, Sports. Leave a comment.

Rally Animals: Cows

We all know it’s the human beings that make rallying happen, but sometimes other species want in on the action. This is part one of a series of…not really shout outs, but featurettes that will examine the impact (pun not intended) that wildlife has had on the rallying. Because what is the WRC if there’s not something crazy going on?

First up: COWS!

As previously posted, the most recent bovine incident occurred in New Zealand when Takuma Kamada and Denis Giraudet found a cow in the road. Or, as the normally very gentlemanly Mr. Giraudet put it, the “big milky thing.” But these two got away without a scratch.

The cow that met Sebastien Loeb’s Xsara in 2005’s Rally Argentina wasn’t so lucky. But it’s in cow heaven now.

Goodbye, cow.

Another Spanish-speaking cow tried to take Seb out in 2006 in Mexico on leg two. But the real problem was the whole herd of cows that got in Chris Atkinson’s and (famously) Manfred Stohl’s way. I’ll let Manfred tell the story. Then, the part we didn’t hear: apparently, STI’s George Donaldson thought the whole thing was a hoot. He found out the next driver had indeed hit that leetle cow and killed it, and took it upon himself to tell Manfred. Manfred told George, “No, you don’t understand. My wife is going to have a baby, and I was thinking of the mommy cow.” Aw, that is tragic! Here’s the doomed cow family:

Poor leetle cow and his mommy cow!

On a lighter note, I thought I’d mention the random rally cows from Eurosport’s 2005 Tour de Corse coverage, just because. They were just hanging out behind a fence, chewing their cud and sniffing the camera. Unfortunately, I can’t find them, but if I do, I’m sharing a picture of them with the world!

That’s all the cows I can think of right now. I know I’m missing tons of cowy moments, so if you know of any, gimme a holla.

January 5, 2007. Animals, Auto Racing, Citroen, Peugeot, Rally, Rallying, Sports, WRC. 2 comments.

Jeremy Clarkson Examines Speed

Here’s a link to a very interesting video clip on Jalopnik about what separates the layman from a sportsman. It educates and strokes my rally pride.

December 31, 2006. Auto Racing, Ford, Motorsport, Rally, Rallying, Sports, WRC. Leave a comment.

Happy Birthday, Alex Bengue!

I want to wish a happy birthday to former French Rally Champion Alex Bengue! He’s not the most famous of rally drivers, but he did beautifully at the two rallies he entered this year (fourth in Catalunya and fifth in Corsica), and he is partnered with one of only two female codrivers at the WRC level, Caroline Escudero. So let’s hope we’ll see this tarmac expert on one of the five asphalt events in 2007.

December 24, 2006. Appreciation, Auto Racing, Motorsport, Rally, Rallying, Sports, WRC. Leave a comment.

Happy Birthday, Alister McRae!

I caught the rally bug after Alister’s exit from the WRC, so I don’t know too much about the younger McRae brother. But I can say that the sibling rivalry between him and illustrious older brother Colin must have been absolutely spectacular. Setting equal stage times and challenging for rally leads together–what good fun! I’m taking my time machine back there, when I build one. Or not. We’ll see.

Anyway…happy birthday, Alister! Hopefully, we’ll see him more often in 2007 in that Toyota Corolla S2000, or in any other car.

December 24, 2006. Appreciation, Auto Racing, Ford, Hyundai, Mistubishi, Motorsport, Rally, Rallying, Sports, Subaru, WRC. Leave a comment.

Happy Birthday, Denis Giraudet!

Belated birthday wishes to Denis Giraudet, one of the most experienced codrivers still in the game. You gotta love

…his name. So fun to say. Den-ee Zhi-rah-day.

…that he codrove for Stephane Sarrazin, my second-favorite French rally driver.

…the sense of awe that I get when I read his CV. Juha Kankkunen, Didier Auriol, five victories…nice.

…one of the best rally quotes of the year: “We met a big cow in the middle of the road…It was a big milky thing, you know?” (2006 Rally New Zealand)

I hope to see more of him in the WRC in 2007, because every sport could use more gentlemen like him.

December 24, 2006. Appreciation, Auto Racing, Motorsport, Rally, Rallying, Sports, Subaru, WRC. Leave a comment.

Thoughts: Rallye Monte Carlo

The news is out–the rally will be held in central France over four days, with stages not used since 1996. So, there must be questions in your mind, like…
Four days, you say? That must mean…NIGHT STAGES! Very cool.

All new stages? The only driver to have driven them in 1996 is Manfred Stohl? Uh oh. That means…NO COL DE TURINI! Sigh…I’m feeling just a bit despondent.

Until we get to the part about the Super Special in the principality! Our rally drivers are driving part of the Grand Prix circuit! I can already see the sideways action on that famous hairpin. Happiness!

Here’s a link to the stage maps, which still look like jolly good fun. The clerk of the course is trying to steer the Rallye back to its historic roots, so we’ll see how it goes.

December 21, 2006. Auto Racing, Motorsport, News, Rally, Rallying, Sports, Thoughts, WRC. Leave a comment.

Next Page »