This week has prove to be most fantastic, and we had some key stories hit as we continue to shape 2011. The drivers market in the WRC has taken an interesting turn and the IRC looks to have finally released their schedule for 2011
Peter Van Merksteijn Secures Citroen Ride
Who? That is probably what you are asking yourself after this weeks announcement that Merksteijn has secured a factory supported Citroen DS3. Peter does have WRC experience and has piloted a Ford Focus RS in previous rounds of the championship. According to WRC.com , he has been restricted due to other business arrangements. Peter will contest 10 rounds of the championship including a couple overseas events. So now this relatively unknown driver has completely changed the game for a certain Kimi Raikkonen. The 2007 F1 Champion is now more than likely going to be kicked from the team in favor of a very competitive Petter Solberg who is still searching for a ride. This could free Raikkonen for either the IRC or a ride at Monster World Rally Team. I say good riddance and only hope that he does not land a ride with the Monster guys.
Jordan Establishes “Power Stage”
Jordan has reformatted its Baptism Site stage for the 2011 championship. The stage has been shortened by three kilometers to fit into a live television slot. If we remember back to some of North One Sport’s promotion initiatives, the group wanted to televise the final stage of the rally during an hour “Power Stage” program. Along with being televised live, these stages will offer the fastest drivers bonus points towards the championship. That way Sebastien Loeb can claim the title four rounds into the championship. Regardless of the points split, the WRC needs this type of television coverage. No word on whether we here in the States will get the Power Stage live or not. I know that a live broadcast of any WRC coverage here in the US would go along way. Lets keep our fingers crossed!
IRC Releases Schedule
IRC promoter Eurosport has released a revised 2011 calendar with it all kicking off at the 100th Rally of Monte Carlo. The calendar has two mixed surface events in Hungary and Cyprus. Other changes include the addition of the Prime Yalta Rally in Ukraine and a date change for the Argentina round. There will be eight asphalt rounds and three on gravel with the two mixed surface events. It will be at these events the battle between Peugeot and Skoda will resume with the latter team a heavy favorite going in.
All in all another light week in the rally world. Keep it here at the Paddock as all of this will have to be settled soon. We will be sure to keep you up to date on the driver announcements as well as any last second entries into the Rally of Monte Carlo.