Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Best Motorcycle Picture Ever

Check this out.

This is everything that makes these guys fucking heroes: commitment, determination, utter control even as the bike wants to go in the wrong direction, knee down courage. Wallpaper-tastic.

Maybe I could win a world title whilst sitting watching TV

In all the excitement surrounding the finale of the MotoGP season, it should be noted that the World Rally Championship also crowned its champion this weekend.

In an unsatisfactory turn of events that sadly wraps up an unsatisfactory season, Sebastien Loeb took the title whilst sitting on his couch at his home in Switzerland.

After Loeb's mountain bike accident sidelined him for at least two events, Marcus Gronholm had to pick up a minimum of 36 points to take the title. With his win in Turkey, he needed 26 points from the three remaining events, and therefore at least third in Australia. Sadly (for the championship's sake) he rolled less than 5km into the first stage and lost 11 minutes that he couldn't claw back despite massive attrition in the WRC field, and a series of determined drives by the Finn.

A decidedly sleepy-looking Loeb appeared via satellite for the post-event press conference.

Next year doesn't show much promise of improving the field, unless Subaru goes ahead with its B-team idea. There's no decision on whether the OMV Peugeot Norway team will continue or whether the lame-duck Red Bull Skoda will be back. Suzuki had originally planned a 2007 debut, but that has been delayed to 2008. Citroen return as a full factory team (did they ever really leave?) and no doubt their new C4 will dominate. The one part of 2007 that should be interesting is the debut of two new events and the return of a another, those being Norway, Ireland and Portugal (only for them to go away again in 2008 - for god's sake, someone please please explain that to me!).

On a more positive note, Mikko Hirvonen took a much-deserved win at the Australian round of the WRC. I've always rated him very highly, and remember fondly the image of him in a 2002 Focus, loud pedal all the way to the floor, hitting a series of three yumps halfway through the Fredriksberg stage at the Swedish Rally in 2003. You can only really know how hard a driver can go when you see it up close, and I'll never forget that. Throughout 2006 he's tempered his massive ability to go fast with the aim of finishing rallies and racking up points. In Australia he put them both together to stay ahead of a charging Petter Solberg and take the victory. Well done Mikko!

Monday, October 30, 2006

Where Rossi went wrong

Now we've had a day to reflect on Nicky Hayden's maiden MotoGP championship, it's interesting to consider what went wrong for Valentino Rossi this year. A look at some statistics shows some interesting trends:

Ignoring his first year in the premier class, Rossi has 98 GP starts. He didn't win 42 of them (which means he won 56, a staggering figure in itself). Of those 42 non-wins, nearly 1/3 of them were this year.

To prove the point, here's the percentage of races he didn't win, by year:

  • 2001 - 31%
  • 2002 - 31%
  • 2003 - 44%
  • 2004 - 44%
  • 2005 - 35%
  • 2006 - 70%
Even more incredibly, of his 11 non-top 10 finishes since 2001, nearly 1/2 of them were in 2006. This really shows how awful his season was. The question is, why?
  • In Jerez, he was involved in a first turn crash, precipitated by his low qualifying position. This was blamed on poor development on the Yamaha over the winter. Blame Yamaha.
  • In China, he retired with tyre problems. Blame Michelin, or perhaps blame Yamaha, after only being able to qualify 13th on a mean-handling bike, and perhaps using up ALL of his tyre to get up to third in the race.
  • In France, he retired with engine problems. Blame Yamaha.
  • In Holland, he had a massive practice crash but fought back to 8th in the race. Still, a huge bag of points were lost to Hayden who won the race. Blame Rossi or maybe blame Yamaha for giving him a bike where he was forced to push harder than normal due to a continually wretched chassis.
  • In the USA, he retired with engine problems. Blame Yamaha.
As you can see, Yamaha had a big hand in Rossi's failure to clinch the title. He still managed five wins, four seconds, a third and a fourth, a combination that could be expected to be sufficient, unless your rival is the ultra-consistent Nicky Hayden.

When all is said and done, to win in any professional racing series you need speed, luck and reliability. Although he had the first, this year he was missing the second and third. You can't control luck. You can control reliability. Shame on Yamaha.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Nicky Hayden - MotoGP World Champion

On a day that even the most hardened American motorcycle racing fan couldn't keep from shedding a tear, Nicky Hayden won the closest, most dramatic MotoGP season in recent memory (certainly the most dramatic of the now-defunct 990cc 4-stroke era).

Many congratulations to Nicky. You da man!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Honda - Answer for your crimes

For all their might and power, Honda sure know how to mess things up.

I have to admit a certain degree of personal animosity here, as my Honda CBR600rr sits in a shop awaiting a new engine, after the current 10,000 mile example inexplicably failed. So much for Big Red's bulletproof reliability...

Unsurprisingly in times such as this you start pondering all the other crimes committed by the perpetrator of your own misery, and for Americans there can be no greater crime than the absolute shambles the Honda MotoGP team made of their rider management at Estoril. I talked in depth on the subject here, and there's further insight on it at this blog.

So then my thoughts turned to how Honda runs its Superbike programs worldwide. Oh, that's right. THEY DON'T. In actual fact, the only factory Honda superbikes are those in the British Championship. Guess who won that this year? Yep, Honda. Not by a country mile, but there's no doubt that factory involvement won them that title.

Over here in the US, American Honda is very much on their own. Given the trick parts that the British team gets, there's little doubt that they would be on pace with the rocketship Suzukis. Alas the American team has had develop the bike from scratch and still don't have traction control.

In World Superbike, Honda, along with the other major manufacturers, still have an ongoing vendetta against the organizers. None of the top teams running Japanese bikes are factory teams, although they are supported by the European importers. Once again, the Honda teams have had to beg and grovel for the trick parts, and have only very recently gotten traction control.

What baffles me is that, given the time and investment required for the trick superbike parts that are supplied to the HM Plant team in England, why not make them available to top teams? Surely Honda want to see Hondas winning? (Actually, maybe that's not true given the kamikaze Pedrosa MotoGP disaster...)

If I sit here long enough I could probably come up with a whole host of other Honda crimes, but for now I'll stew in the juices of missed superbike opportunities, a mismanaged MotoGP program, and a supposedly reliable bike that's about to slash my life savings in two.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Grab bag of racing news

Time for some racing amuse-bouche...

Michael Schumacher did not win the F1 World Championship on Sunday, but his team-mate became the first Brazilian to win a Brazilian Grand Prix since 1993.

Speaking of Brazil, Alex Barros will leave World Superbike after just one year and return to MotoGP with the hopelessly underfunded D'Antin Pramac Ducati team. Hopefully this means that our friend Liam's job will be safe.

There was a V8 Supercar race this weekend in Surfers Paradise but I don't know who won, because I still haven't finished watching Bathurst. I've been waiting for my Australian friend to come round to watch it with me, but our schedules appear to be incompatible.

The Kronos Citroen World Rally team will return to a red livery in this weekend's Rally Australia. Apparently the sponsorship deal with Gauloises was only for 13 rounds, which seems rather odd to me. So the Xsaras will once again look like the old factory team cars. Which they are. The charade is over. Kronos Citroen was never anything less than a full factory effort...

Many rumours of new cars in the Le Mans Series both here in the US and in Europe. These include six Audi R10s for Europe; Zyteks in both series; Creations in both series; up to 8 Corvettes in the LMES; Bobby Rahal running a Porsche in GT2 in ALMS; Martin Short's Rollcentre team running a Pescarolo in Europe; Lister using a Pescarolo tub for its new prototype; up to 8 of Porsche's RS Spyder Evo running worldwide; at least 2 new Radicals joining the LMES; and Peugeot coming to Sebring (although maybe not to race, just to test).

There's rumblings about the FIA GT series being in trouble. Not sure why this is yet, but if I hear anything I'll post it.

In an interesting coincidence Rolling Stone just ran an article about rallying, highlighting the exploits of Travis Pastrana, who just this weekend secured the Rally America title.

In AMA Superbike, the silly season is almost complete. Jason Pridmore retired, so Aaron Yates will probably take his place at Jordan Suzuki. His factory Suzuki seat goes to Tommy Hayden. Hayden is replaced at Kawasaki by Jamie Hacking. Hacking's Yamaha Supersport and Superstock ride goes to Ben Bostrom who was left unemployed after the departure of Ducati. Meanwhile, Yamaha will enter Superbike with Eric Bostrom and Jason DiSalvo.

All for now...

Monday, October 23, 2006

Laguna Seca ALMS report

This weekend's trip to the ALMS finale at Laguna Seca as everything I hoped it would be: great cars, good weather, very close racing and a large (but not too large) crowd of enthusiastic fans.

Undoubtedly the highlight of the weekend was meeting the guys from the Creation team. I've always been a big fan of the plucky British team, and the Discovery documentary about them further proved the point. So after practice I followed the car back to their garage, and found team owner Mike Jankowski gesturing onlookers into the garage. This was highly unusual - in the high-powered world of prototype racing, there's always a (small) barrier between the cars and the people. So I got a nice close look at the car, and then got talking with Mike, a very friendly and likeable chap. Later on I met driver "Quick" Nic Minassian, and had a chat with Ian Smith, the chief engineer. Even later still, the small, low-budget team beat the multi-million dollar Audis to the front row of the grid, alongside fellow small British team Zytek. This was extremely satisfying to watch!

Raceday was busy, but nothing like the outrageous crowds that Laguna sees for MotoGP. Prior to the race, the grid was opened up to spectators, and we were lucky enough to be right next to the pits. The second car along was the Creation and my father and partner got to meet Mike and see the blue rocket up-close. The ALMS' tagline is "for the fans" and this race meeting really proved it: mandatory autograph sessions for all drivers, open paddock, the grid walk and the fantastic Radio Le Mans commentary made for a great day's racing.

A number of awkwardly-timed safety car periods conspired to make the race itself exceptionally tight, the first one prior to the leaders lapping any cars. The first few laps were thus completely irrelevant, and ensured a carbon copy second start. As the race progressed it was interesting to see the see-saw between those on a conventional strategy (Zytek, Audi #2 and Creation) and those who pitted early (both Porsches and Audi #1). The race unfolded clearly, and I had none of the confusion that often accompanies long races such as this. Perhaps the radio commentary helped in this regard, or perhaps it was because we were sitting above the pit exit and could see who pitted when and whether they lost laps or not.

By the time we got to the final stints, the #2 Audi had a healthy lead over the Creation, which had to do a final splash-and-dash stop and lost second as a result. Audi's stingy fuel consumption once again bought them victory (as did two penalties for the Zytek which was the fastest car out there). I believe that Creation might have been in a stronger position had Jamie Campbell-Walter been the second driver instead of Harold Primat, but his funding no doubt allowed the event to happen for them, so I can't complain too much.

Bring on 2007! After a number of races with small grids in 2006, next year should be bigger, closer and more exciting, as proved by the final two races of the year, both of which looked much healthier.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

World Rallies Commission - A logic-free zone

I'd love to know what the FIA's World Motor Sport Council is smoking. No sooner do they release the 2007 calendar for the World Rally Championship, featuring three new rallies, then they reveal the 2008 calendar with all three replaced!

They haven't even run Rally Norway, Rally Ireland or the Rally of Portugal and they're booted off the schedule. It's so weird. I for one thought that the pairings of snow rallies in Sweden and Norway and rain rallies in Ireland and Great Britain were inspired, and made for a nice cost-cutting measure.

But now they've added rallies in South Africa and Jordan for 2008, which are extremely expensive to get to. Aside from the cost of air freight, administrative procedures such as customs clearances, posting bonds and local transportation are far more costly than in any European country. Of course the lack of restrictions on cigarette advertising surely has NOTHING to do with their inclusion....

I'm all for globalizing the sport, but it has to be done in a considered and careful fashion, and replacing rallies which have only appeared on the calendar for one year seems to be the wrong way to go.

Even more insane is that the third event that will displace the 2007 rookie events is the return of the Cyprus Rally, which was removed due to the cost to teams of replacing all the bits that get broken on cars in the notoriously rough event. Will somebody please explain the logic of this to me, because I can't come up with a single reason.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

300 million Americans agree: Dani Pedrosa's a little bitch

Well, I suppose I'd better comment on the Nicky Hayden / Dani Pedrosa crash at last weekend's Portugese round of the MotoGP championship. In some ways I'm loathed to do so, because it is so abundantly clear what happened and who is to blame. In addition, a look at some of the main motorcycle racing websites will find many editorials on the topic - try here, here and Toby Moody's page at Crash.net.

The one thing about this situation that I've always felt is that I don't believe Honda have ever been 100% behind Nick Hayden. The got him in the beginning because they didn't want Yamaha to get him. Since then he's ridden in the shadow of Valentino Rossi, then wallowed in a couple of seasons with average team-mates and a slightly below-par bike. Then he had to ride in the (tiny) shadow of the sponsor's golden boy. Even though Repsol's sponsorship is merely pocket money for Big Red, Honda has never assigned a role of subservience to Pedrosa despite his inexperience, flaws and questionable demeanor. Given that behavior by the team, what happened on Sunday was inevitable.

Let me put it this way:

Some parents of teenagers believe that it's not possible to lay down the law with their children. They feel that the rebellious temperament means they're going to do what they want anyway, so better to stay friends with the kid than alienate them AND have them break the rules. The theory goes that it's better for them to learn from their mistakes than from the words of their parents.

Then there are parents who are willing to be the bad guys, who are willing to threaten the kids with being grounded for a month if they borrow the car without asking. Sometimes the threats will work, the kid stays home and perhaps it's during one of those times that the kid might otherwise have taken the car and gotten killed by a drunk driver at 2am in front of a 7-11.

It's a nice idea, that of self-governance. But people are stupid, and when you remove the rules that stupidity has some extra room to show itself.

That's about all I have to say.

Actually, one more thing: although we need Dani to be in tip-top form to ride for second place behind Nicky and ahead of Vale at Valencia, I'm hoping that once the season is over he contracts a really bad case of that African disease where river worms breed underneath your skin. Or that he accidentally talks to the girlfriend of a steroid-popping wrestler in a bar and finds himself with a pair of black eyes and cracked ribs. Or that he has one of those infections that makes you need to pee all the time, and when you go it burns really bad. Nothing serious, just some discomfort to make up for the sleepless nights Nick Hayden is probably having in the run up to this weekend's race.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Racetrack maps

I was sent this earlier today.

It's an interactive map of racetracks in the United States. Strangely enough it appears as though Sears Point (Infineon Raceway) is missing...

Elves in the World Rally Championship

Watching the Rally of the Turkey yesterday, my partner and I joked again about how Chris Atkinson's co-driver, Glenn MacNeall, looks so much like Hugo Weaver as the Elven Lord of Rivendell, Elrond, in Lord of the Rings.

It's not so apparent when he's got his helmet off, but here they are...

Glenn MacNeall, rally co-driver

Elrond, Elven Lord

Friday, October 13, 2006

British Superbike Rewind

This was the first year I got to see the British Superbike Championship, and I found it utterly compelling. We had a championship fight that involved three riders that went down to the last race, and unlike the AMA and WSBK series, the lead changed hands multiple times. These kind of see-saw title fights are simply fantastic, and I was on the edge of my seat as I waited for the last round to show up.

Although the standard of teams is very high, only two were ever a factor in the championship, GSE Airwaves Ducati and the HM Plant Honda factory team. Both had top-shelf factory bikes and extremely talented riders.

On the Ducati side was Gregorio Lavilla, winner of the 2005 title, and Leon Haslam, son of former GP winner Ron Haslam. Honda had last year's runner-up Ryuichi Kiyonari and Karl Harris, who had moved into the factory team from the Red Bull satellite squad.

Shane "Shakey" Byrne returned to BSB after two miserable years in MotoGP, joining top Suzuki team, Rizla Suzuki. After a dominant BSB season in 2003, many expected him to be right at the front all season long.

Other top riders who had the potential to do well included Michael Rutter on the Stobart Honda, Scott Smart on the Vivaldi Suzuki and Red Bull Honda's youngster, Johnny Rea.

Lavilla set the pace early on, although Kiyonari notched up a terrific win in the wet at the first round at Brands Hatch, as did Scott Smart at round two. Still, Lavilla won 7 of the first 10 races. The tide started to turn at round 6, Mallory Park, where Kiyonari beat Lavilla fair and square. He repeated the feat in the first race of the next round, and Lavilla crashed out of the second race.

With all the drama surrounding the two front-runners, many people were forgetting about Leon Haslam, who was quietly picking up a raft of second-placed finishes. When Lavilla had engine trouble and a crash at Knockhill, and Kiyonari failed to finish in race 2, things suddenly started to go Leon's way.

Moving onto Oulton Park and Croft, Kiyonari was the man to beat. Only a torrential downpour in Croft's race two disrupted things, as Leon took his first win of the season with one of the most inspired rides I've ever seen, taking 10 seconds out of the leader, Karl Harris, in the last 3 laps.

Lavilla temporarily stopped the rot at Cadwell Park with a win, only to have Leon score his second win in race two after Kiyonari had a mechanical failure.

By now you can see how things ebbed and flowed all season. The penultimate round at Silverstone saw Leon finally get some bad luck as he crashed in race one. This put the top three within nine points of each other going into the final round, a double-points affair at the mighty Brands Hatch GP circuit. With changeable conditions all weekend, anything could happen. It was Lavilla who was removed from the chase first, after a silly lowside in race one. Haslam had been shadowing Kiyonari all race, but a red flag ruined things for him, and he admitted later that it had been bad strategy on his part to not push to stay in front given the likelihood of a red flag.

In race two, Haslam needed a win for himself and a third or worse for Kiyonari. He fulfilled part one, but a loyal Honda team-mate gifted second to Kiyonari and he took the crown. The young Japanese was clearly overwhelmed, but can be happy that he deserved it by winning more races than anyone else. Haslam's consistent approach paid dividends but was ultimately not enough.

The prize for "most up-and-down season" surely goes to Shakey Byrne, who managed to sneak a win at Knockhill, a podium at Oulton but had two ferocious accidents that crippled his quest for the title.

It was a great year of racing, and I can't wait for the next one, especially if Chris Walker returns to BSB. Anyone here in the US who hasn't checked it out should definitely pick up Duke Video's season review DVD when it comes out.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Fastest Laps

Looking at my site statistics, it seems like a lot of people end up here with Google searches for fastest lap info - surprising, given the name of this blog LOL!

Seems to me that there's room in cyberspace for a website that catalogs fastest lap times for tracks, broken down by vehicle type and whether it was a race, qualifying, practice or testing lap.

Anyone know of such a site?

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

World Superbike Rewind

Despite domination by Ducati's Troy Bayliss, the 2006 World Superbike season was one of the best yet. This was mainly due to the quality of the field, as good as the championship's previous heyday of the late 90s through 2002. The list of top riders this year was remarkable: former WSBK champions Troy Corser, James Toseland and Troy Bayliss; MotoGP refugees Alex Barros, Ruben Xaus, Fonsi Nieto and Roberto Rolfo; World Supersport champions Fabian Foret, Karl Muggeridge and Andrew Pitt; and top Superbike regulars Chris Walker, Regis Laconi, Nori Haga and Yukio Kagayama.

What's more, this fabulous cast of characters found themselves on a wide variety of top-quality machinery. The lucky ones were even benefitting from cast-off MotoGP traction-control technology. One thing that all bikes continued to share however was Pirelli tyres. In 2004 the motorcycle press was predicting doom and gloom after the decision to switch to the Pirelli control tyre - but it turned out to be a genius move, as a diminished grid in 2004 provided infinitely more compelling racing than the humdrum 2003 season.

After a dominant 2005 on the Suzuki, Troy Corser was expected to be the primary rival to Troy Bayliss, who returned to WSBK after an average three years in MotoGP. Preseason tests confirmed Bayliss' position as the man to beat. But come the first race of the season in Qatar, Bayliss seemed off the pace, outclassed by Honda's new signing James Toseland, as well as Yamaha's Haga and the Suzuki pairing of Corser and Kagayama.

As the year progressed, Bayliss quickly got onto the pace, and then starting setting it. The surprise was that it wasn't Corser who was his main rival. Perennial WSBK runner-up Nori Haga showed speed and consistency, as did Toseland, and by the end of the year only those two who were within reach of Bayliss.

Along the way a number of other riders grabbed a win or two. Suzuki madman Yukio Kagayama had already won in 2005, and added to the tally in 2006, most notably with a double win at Brno. Yamaha's Andrew Pitt also garnered a win, his first since his days in World Supersport. A win had been expected from MotoGP star Alex Barros from day one, but it took until the penultimate round for him to deliver it. Perhaps the most special win of the season was the first ever for British favourite Chris Walker. In addition to the significance of it being his first win, the fact he did it in the rain from last place coming out of the first corner made it even sweeter for his legions of fans.

When all was said and done, it ended as expected: Troy Bayliss became the 2006 World Superbike champion, with three races in hand. The battle for second went to the very last race and saw James Toseland pip Nori Haga for runner-up.

So what does the 2007 season hold for WSBK fans? There's not much that has been decided yet, but we do know that Bayliss stays at Ducati, Toseland stays at Honda and Haga stays at Yamaha. Corser moves from Suzuki to Yamaha and is replaced by the mercurial MotoGP star Max Biaggi. Leaving the paddock for good are Frankie Chili and Norick Abe, who both retire. Amongst the riders sniffing around for a job are Karl Muggeridge, Andrew Pitt, Chris Walker and former champ and AMA reject Neil Hodgson. Some juicy rumours put Ducati's British Superbike rider Greg Lavilla on the factory team, Neil Hodgson on a satellite Ducati run by Carl Fogarty and a less satisfying rumour that sees Alex Barros return to MotoGP with Kawasaki or Ilmor. Whichever of these turn out to be true, one thing is for sure: it's going to be another terrific year for World Superbike. Only one thing could make it any better: a return to the USA...

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

ColinWatch 06

Latest Colin McRae news...

Colin's replacing Seb Loeb for the Rally of Turkey, and I'd bet he'll be in Australia too, after doing so well there in the Skoda last year.

The rumour of Col getting a ride in NASCAR are not going away either...

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

The Mid-Ohio Debacle

First off, congratulation to Ben Spies, the factory Suzuki superbike rider who won the AMA Superbike championship here in the US on Sunday. He beat team-mate and 6-time champion Mat Mladin fair and square and Mladin knew it. Spies was rather overwhelmed by the occasion but Mat was, for once, gracious about it.

On a more sour note, the events leading up to the afternoon's headline race were pretty poor, and there's a lot of people I'd like to point the finger of blame at.

From what I can understand (I've avoided bike media for the last few days until I've watched the WSBK races), a large amount of rain had led to reduced practice time for all classes, and as a result the factory superbike guys refused to ride in the special qualifying heat races.

If I was to go to a trackday, and it was pouring with rain, I wouldn't ride. My bike is too valuable to me, and I would have little to gain. However, if I was to come to work and there was a huge network failure (which I'd be responsible for fixing) I would get to work, even though it would be time-consuming, frustrating work. Which of these two situations more closely resembles that which the AMA riders encountered on Sunday? I'd say the second one. These guys are paid handsomely to go out there and race. It's their job, and they know it's not the safest one out there. You don't see utility company workers packing up and going home when the lines are down in a storm - they're out there hanging off utility poles trying to get the power back on, a dangerous task, but part of their job. So, for all you professional AMA superbike riders who read this (you know who you are): DO YOUR DAMN JOB, and stop being a moaning fool. Go watch Leon Haslam's win in torrential rain at Croft in British Superbike earlier this year and watch how he struggled to get on his Ducati because his giant brass BALLS were in the way.

Where are you going, AMA? Come back here, I'm not finished with you yet... What the hell is going on with a rule that permits "provisional" entry into the main event? That kind of rule allows behavior like the riders exhibited on Sunday to happen. Here's the deal: you don't qualify, you don't race. And if the big-money, crowd-pleasing factory teams don't field any bikes, they get fined. That's how it should be. If that's too harsh, then any rider whose entry is accepted but who doesn't get a qualifying time starts at the back. If multiple riders start at the back, their position is determined by championship points. If points are even, it goes to best result this season. If that's even, then pull names out of a hat.

These guys are paid very well for two reasons: one, to win for their team; two, to put on a show for the fans. If they refuse to do either, they've failed. If they wanted a safe job they're more than welcome to sign up with my old temp agency and answer phones at a downtown law firm.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Reflections on Petit Le Mans

Due to my lack of TV- and laptop-related viewing on Sunday I'm unable to talk about the three different Superbike championships that raced this weekend, two of them for the final time this season. I can assure you however that comments are coming, especially given the pathetic behavior by so-called "profesisonals" at Mid-Ohio that I've heard a little about...

So today seems like as good a day as any to cogitate on this year's Petit Le Mans, which took place on Saturday at Road Atlanta.

I'm pleased to say that I only missed 15 minutes of the nine hours whilst I ran out to get milk, distilled water and flowers at the local store. A remarkable thing happens when you watch / listen to a long endurance race: you get sucked in. As the race ebbs and flows, the fact you've seen enough of it to spot said ebbing and flowing unlocks a whole new level of understanding and complexity that the casual observer would certainly miss.

So whilst Joe Blow would have certainly spotted the dramatic destruction of Guy Smith's Dyson-Lola, he would have missed how Creation were constantly battling the need to change tyres at every pitstop. He would definitely have missed the gradual move up the leaderboard by Duncan Dayton's Highcroft Racing Lola, which crossed the line in a magnificent third despite a late charge by mutant-nocturnal-ninja-creature Jamie Campbell-Walter in the Creation.

All in all it was a fabulous race, full of drama, and enhanced by my usage of the Globecast 0157 commentary allied with Speed Channel's visuals. We even got to hear my partner's name read out on air after she asked a question about the aforementioned Lola that had been converted into a 10,000-piece carbon-fibre jigsaw puzzle.

Kudos go to the Zytek team for a great second place, at the expense of the terrifically boring Audi freight-train, which suffered suspension failure on the second-placed car ten laps from the close of the business.

I'm feeling all "predictory" about next year's Le Mans season (as well as focused on the topic given the upcoming ALMS race at nearby Laguna Seca), so look for such a post in the next few days.