Rally – Sunday Service Park 1/30/2011

Welcome to the end of another weekend and another addition of the Sunday Service Park. We have a few items to discuss, but we also had the first round of the RallyCar/Rally America championship as well. The Landscape was different for Sno* Drift 2011 entirely. We had no Ken Block (WRC), no Travis Pastrana (NASCAR), and no Andrew Comrie Pricard. 2010 Rally America champion Antoine L’Estage was back alongside Nathalie Richard and Subaru Rally Team USA would now have David Higgins along side Dave Mirra. In the end, all of that would not matter because Travis Hanson would claim overall victory in a super production Subaru. Travis is the first driver to ever claim overall victory while driving a super production anything! A great performance!

Rumors have really ramped up this week as well in regards to Volkswagen’s pending WRC entry. While many would say bring on the Skoda under the VAG banner, it appears that the German marque will come in under its own flag. Possible entries range from the Sciroccoto the Polo. VW had run some rounds in the IRC, but is looking at a manufacturer effort for the WRC that may see Petter Solberg return to a works seat as well as VW’s Dakar winner Nasser al-Attiyah. This type of talk has become offseasonrumor for the last couple years. VW wins Dakar and announces their interest in the WRC. This year has proven no different and we are now still waiting for the official announcement. That would put four manufacturers in the WRC which was the goal of the series.

It was announced this week that Juho Hanninen will get an expanded role with Skoda in the IRC. Juho was set to compete in the SWRC but after his blistering pace in the Monte Carlo Rally on Day 1, the Czech squad are now looking to secure Juho for a few more rounds than what was previously expected. It would appear that Jan Kopecky will not get it done while teamed with Andreas Mikkelsen. I think this is a natural move and a smart choice. There is no way Skodacan push off his talent in favor of another driver at the team. His raw pace was unreal on tarmac! As was mentioned on TotalRally last week, there are not a lot of options out there currently, so you may as well hang onto him so he does get picked up by another team at the end of his deal. Hanninen appears to be a rare talent with both tarmac and gravel speed. He is a complete package and if I am VW looking to get in…I keep an eye on this guy. Nasser is good, but a Solberg/Hanninen lineup would be formidable.

In closing, the rally season is now underway and the last big time championship to begin is the WRC. Sweden is coming up 10-13 Feb! Check out this awesome raw footage from Monte Carlo. S2000 cars are really getting after it!

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