Wednesday, August 02, 2006

X Games Rally

Today sees the start of the X Games Rally. This is the first time a 4-wheel motorsport has been part of the X Games, and the first time that a national rally event will see network TV coverage.

First off, the good: it's got some of the best drivers, and that great TV coverage.

Now, the bad: Although it features some "real" rally stages, there's only 8 of them, they're all closed to spectators, there's only have 37 miles of actual stage mileage, and the results of the rally part of the event will be divided by five to emphasize the importance of the "superspecial" stage on Saturday.

The focus of the rally really comes down to that superspecial at the Home Depot Center on Saturday, which is not much more than a mile. I don't know if each driver gets multiple runs at it - I presume they do. I can understand why the rally needs to be packaged this way, but I can't help feeling a bit sad that rallying needs to "sell out" in this manner to get widespread coverage. Oh well, I'll continue to be happy that it brings more American eyes onto the sport.

The drivers involved are all awesome, and kudos to Rally America for getting Colin McRae involved. It will be great to see him up against the best the US has to offer. Travis Pastrana is probably the top guy on the scene right now, and after the completion of the first four stages, he leads McRae by about 8 seconds. Other US rally regulars include Matt Iorio (USRC champ), Ken Block (Travis' team-mate), Tanner Faust (PGT champ and Hollywood stunt-driver) and Andrew Comrie-Picard.

The X Games Rally also sees the return of some former US champs.

  • Paul Choiniere, who used to be Hyundai's lead factory driver, should go well, even if he is a little rusty. Pat Richard was incredibly dominant in 2004 and 2005, but hasn't raced at all in 2006. I expect him to go faster as the rally progresses.
  • Ramana Lagemann was the golden boy of US rallying back in '02 and '03 but somewhat slipped from the scene. He's got an Escort Cosworth for this event.
  • Rhys Millen has taken time out from his drifting schedule to bring his Evo VII out to play, but he has already suffered a mechanical DNF and won't feature at the top of the results.
  • Group N champ and and sole American WRC Mexico entrant in 2004 Wyeth Gubelmann got a last-minute call-up when Australian Andrew Pinker couldn't put together the sponsorship to run the event.
  • Finally, and most importantly (to me anyway) is my friend, and fellow San Franciscan, Lauchlin O'Sullivan. Lauchlin is probably the best driver in the US at knowing when to push and when to hold back, and this cerebral approach works well in the longer events. Hopefully in a short event like this he'll go hell for leather from the get-go.
So it looks to be a great fight, even if it's a sprint, and a good showcase for rallying. The TV coverage is on ABC at 2pm PDT this Saturday. I'll have to tape it since I'll be at Buttonwillow for a track day on my bike...

1 comment:

Guybo said...

Is there any way you could post a torrent for the X-Games rally? I too missed it as I was out of the house when ABC showed it. It'd be great if you could.

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