Welcome to the second edition of the Sunday Service Park. This week has been a little lighter than one would hope, but there are still drivers on the market and seats needing filled! In other news, felt my first rally withdrawal of the season the other day. Can it please be 2011 yet?!?
So I already touched on this story earlier in the week but it now looks as though MINI will be the choice for the Spaniard. While hoping for Ford to throw him a bone, it now appears his options will be slim and MINI will have a driver line-up after all. After releasing the first article, I started to think that Ford may not need his services after all. I mean look at how many Ford Fiestas are going to be available for Sweden. Team that with Jari-Matti Latvala’s promise on the latter tarmac events this year and Ford may have all the weapons they need. The fact that Dani was not able to put together a win in four seasons with the best car has really hurt his stock value. He should have been able to haul in something whenever Sebastien Loeb crashed. Looks as though Doug will not have to worry…this year.
Monte Carlo Prep and…Kimi
The 100th edition of the Monte Carlo Rally is just over a month away. Preparations are well underway for what is being called a massive event and the season opening round of the 2011 IRC championship. Facilities have been checked and the route inspected…now enter Kimi Raikkonen. We are still waiting on who is willing to waste money on the 2007 Formula 1 World Champion. That has not stopped him from exploring a possible ride in the 2011 Monte in a Peugeot 207 S2000. Raikonnen has admitted he has nothing concrete for 2011 but would love to run the Monte Carlo event because it is “classic”. I think the IRC would be a good home for Kimi. The talent in the IRC is good but not WRC level and the cars are something a little easier to the hang of. Keep it at the Paddock as we wait to see if anything comes of this.
Michelin Wants a Challenge
Apparently Chinese tire firm DMack is not enough of a challenge for Michelin. The French tire marque has come to the WRC to supply tires and now wants fellow manufacturers to jump in and compete. Hancook tires is a potential brand that could present a challenge. Also, Pirelli has not ruled out a return to the stages in 2012. The Italian brand was the sole supplier of tires in the series for the last several years, but left once it got the Formula 1 supplier deal. To this point, Michelin will be responsible to the major factory efforts and DMack will present a cost effective alternative for smaller teams. A tire war would be welcome for me but may end up not being healthy for the sport. This all comes down to a safety issue. Once companies try and produce the best tire, problems can happen and rally crashes are very serious (often involving trees).
Proton Confirms Select IRC and Asia Pacific
As if striking a deal to buy a Formula 1 team was not enough, Proton will continue to challenge rallies in the Asian-Pacific Rally Championship and select rounds of the IRC. The team will bring a pair of Satria Neo S2000s to Monte Carlo this January. P-G Andersson will be in a one car for Monte and Christ Atkinson will also compete in the 100th anniversary event. Alister McRae will be in the car full time for the Asian-Pacific series and will contest some rounds in the IRC. To be honest, I would rather see McRae in the car at Monte, but you do have two really good drivers already so it is a tough fit.
There we have it. Just a few select stories for this weeks Service Park. As we continue to get closer to the new year you can believe seats will start going at a rapid pace. Stay with Openpaddock and the Sunday Service for your weekly dose of rally news and rumors.