Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Coming up this weekend

Another busy weekend coming up, although I should probably be getting used to saying that. My Excel spreadsheet of race schedules lists 7 major events this weekend (and the spreadsheet doesn't even include CART, IRL, NASCAR, Grand Am or the BRC). Going forward, most weekends have between 5 and 8 events listed, although curiously enough, the weekend of July 7-9 has nothing. Bizarre. I guess that's a good weekend to plan a couple of days of motorcycling up north!

Here in the US, Rally America travels to Oregon. I was originally scheduled to be co-driving in this event, but the ride fell through last week. Naturally Travis Pastrana and Ken Block will be fast here, but watch for Italian Alfredo de Dominicis and Australian Andrew Pinker to push hard. I have some folks to cheer for too. California Rally Series regular George Plsek is entered, as are a couple of guys I've co-driven for, Pat Moro and Barrett Dash.

AMA Superbike returns to action at the Barber facility in Alabama. Can the Ducatis, which have been strong in WSB and BSB, finally put one over on Mat Mladin? Mladin's team-mate Ben Spies will be in the mix, and the ever-faster Kawasakis of the Hayden brothers could spoil the party for the old guard. It's doubtful whether Honda have yet caught up in development so I'll predict the best for them will be 5th.

Over in Europe, the BTCC crosses the pond to Mondello Park, and you can be sure that Vauxhall will be determined to turn things around after a DREADFUL outing at Brands Hatch. SEAT are looking strong, whilst title defender Matt Neal is still looking for a bit more speed.

Down under, the Aussie V8s cross their own pond to Pukekohe in New Zealand. This is a happy hunting ground for Kiwi Greg Murphy, who missed the non-championship crash-fest in Melbourne after his own crash in Adelaide. As always, there's a raft of possible winners here, and my gut tells me that "Murph" might not have it all his own way this time. My outside tip is another Kiwi, Jason Richards.

As mentioned yesterday, World Superbike hits European soil for the first time this season at Valencia. The Battle of the Troys resumes but will recent development work on Alex Barros' Klaffi Honda put him into contention? Personally I hope so.

The Italians welcome the Formula 1 circus to the Imola track, where last year Michael Schumacher had his one moment in the sun as he pushed Fernando Alonso all the way to the chequered flag. Imola can produce some tight racing, but sadly not much passing, perhaps a good reason why Alonso staved off Michael in '05. If nothing else, watch for Kimi Raikonnen to pick up some points here.

Finally, the FIM World Endurance Championship gets to run their own 24 Hours of Le Mans this weekend, but unfortunately they only get to use the smaller Bugatti circuit. Look for a team you've never heard of to win, probably with a few Frenchmen on board. Damn, how cynical is that?

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