Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Long Beach

Didn't the Indycar race at Long Beach look great? It reminded me of 1995, with all the top US open-wheel drivers and some notable foreigners going toe-to-toe in a nice big field of brightly-colored cars in front of a sizable crowd. It really feels to me like Indycar racing is truly back in business. Yes, there's still quite a lot of empty space on the sides of cars where sponsors should be, but there's also a number of new names like McAfee and the US Air Force, both of which are on Raffa Matos' Luczo-Dragon car.

What a difference two years can make. Compare the fortunes of NASCAR and the IRL back in 2007 with what we see today. Most amusing...

My only disappointment was the news that we may not see Will Power again until Indy. Although I'm pleased for Helio Castro-Neves, it is a real shame that a talent like Power will suffer from his acquittal. Here's hoping that Verizon can step up and fund the car for a full season.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The diffuser thing

The FIA have decreed that Brawn GP, Toyota and Williams were within the rules when they ran with their "double-decker" diffuser for the first two F1 races of the season. This is great news, because it sets up much excitement for the rest of the season.

There is no doubt that those without the special diffuser will implement one, and that their performance will increase. McLaren in particular have much to gain, since their major issue was getting that rear wing to work, and with the extra rear downforce from the new diffuser that will become less of a problem. Ferrari are said to be ready to go with a new design, and they desperately need it after a shocking start to the season. Red Bull have looked to be amongst the "best of the rest", so in theory they could be right up at the sharp end. However, their car will not easily accommodate a change to the diffuser, so it may be some time before they can implement it. Renault might easily run something new as early as this weekend. What we can expect to see is the "Diffuser Three" become the "Diffuser Four" at China, then Ferrari and McLaren jumping on board at Bahrain, and (maybe) the remaining teams by Spain in May. This has effectively handed Brawn, Toyota and Williams a 2-4 race "head start" on the rest of the field, something that Brawn have best capitalized on. By the middle of the European season I can see the field being very evenly matched, which sets up a thrilling climax at the end as the powerhouse teams look to claw back their deficit from the early-season upstarts.

I think it is still quite possible for Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello to be in the thick of the title fight as we approach the season finale.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Plato shows BTCC who's boss

Jason Plato very nearly didn't have a drive in the BTCC this year after SEAT cancelled their factory program. Luckily at the last minute he ended up in a Chevrolet Lacetti (probably ex-WTCC but I'm not sure).

Good thing too, because he put on one hell of a show in race 3 of this weekend's season opener. I've always rated Plato as one of the best tin-top drivers in the business and the clip below proves it. I also think his no-nonsense communication style and TV experience on Fifth Gear make for one of the most compelling personalities in motorsport too.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Rally spectators get the info they want

Having been to a couple of WRC events in the past, the issue of deciding which stages to see and where on those stages to go can be really tricky. I've got hundreds of megabytes of maps, stage descriptions and video accumulated for that very reason.

Rally Deutschland and this weekend's Vodafone Rally Portugal have attempted to solve that very issue. Not only do they put detailed maps and descriptions online (like a lot of other rallies), but they also post video of the spectator areas so that you can see the view that you can expect. Check out this superb stage overview which shows all the access points, and then go to this example spectator area page from the excellent Portugese spectator guide. There's a video link at the top, which shows a little SUV negotiating the stage.

It was just a bit of a shame that such a well-though-out and gorgeous rally dished up the same old snoozefest on the competitive side of things.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Unemployment up in Indycar too

As the supposedly great state of California inches towards 10% unemployment (and as the start of the Indycar season approaches this weekend), I spent a moment thinking about all those poor saps who want (or have been connected to) fulltime Indycar rides. You know, people like Frank Perera, AJ Foyt IV, Buddy Rice, David Martinez, Oriel Servia, Townsend Bell, Neel Jani, Matt Halliday, Ryan Dalziel, Enrique Bernoldi, Bruno Junquiera, Dan Clarke, Tomas Scheckter, Darren Manning, Alex Lloyd, Mario Dominguez, Nelson Phillippe and Jaime Camara.

That's a lot of people. Considering there's 24 fulltime IRL entries thus far, that's a 42% unemployment rate. What the hell is everyone else complaining about??? Think of the poor IRL drivers!

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

I told you so

Check it.

I win.