The Dakar. Well another Dakar is over and it was eventful as usual. On two wheels, Marc Coma scored another victory, beating Cyril Despres by a comfortable margin. However, most of that margin was due to a penalty levied because of a silly technicality. It seems that in returning to the bivouac for the gloves he forgot, Despres used the wrong entrance. While this had no possible impact on the race, he was penalized 10 minutes. Like last year when Coma had a controversial penalty, it seems we were robbed of a true battle between the two champions once again. The highest BMW was Verhoeven who finished 16th. On four wheels, it was a story of two races. Prior to the desert, Carlos Sainz dominated and seemed on track to win the rally. Once they hit the sand, his team mate Nasser Al-Attiyah was dominant and a few mistakes by Sainz resulted in a comfortable victory for Al-Attiyah. Peterhansel in the BMW would almost certainly have been on the podium were it not for a host of punctures and mechanical failures. He drove a fantastic race to finish 4th. Alejandro Patronelli claimed the crown in the Quads, but his brother dropped out early so they were not both on the podium again. The “Tsar” Vladimir Chagin claimed an amazing seventh crown in the trucks.
WRC. The pre-season heats up with unveilings and news of testing. Ford unveiled their new livery for the Fiesta RS. It looks great to my eye, but then again, I like the Castrol dominated livery on any race car. The debut of the Mini Countryman in the WRC is much anticipated, and progress is ahead of schedule according to Pro-Drive. It will not campaign the whole season this year, but it will be good to see another manufacturer in the series. Monte Carlo Rally hero Paddy Hopkirk took a test ride in the navigator seat of the new WRC Mini, and said he enjoyed it. When I reach 77, I hope I am enjoying going that fast. Lastly, after a rumor that he would switch to World Touring Cars, it seems that Petter Solberg will be in the Citroen for Rally Sweden. Good News.
F1. The “silly season” is underway with the usual sense of circus. This despite no real shakeups in the drivers for the big teams. Lotus vs Lotus tops the entertainment list as the fate of Lotus Racing (green and yellow) that competed in 2010 is tied to the decision by Lotus the car company’s decision to go racing itself as Lotus Renault (black and gold). This would end permission for any other entity to use the Lotus name. Hints that Porsche may jump into the F1 ring in 2013 are tempered by hints that it may be some other brand within the VW group. Paul Di Resta has landed the 2nd seat at Force India joining Adrian Sutil. New tire supplier Pirelli is completing testing and there are hints that multiple tire pit stops could be in the cards if you don’t get the strategy right. Lastly, a slew of Unveilings of the new cars are coming up in the next several weeks. Stay tuned.