What follows is going to give away what happened in this year's Rally Argentina. If you don't want to be spoiled (or have no interest in rally), don't
First off, a couple of ouches: Markko. Ouch. While I didn't think that realistically it was likely that he was going to hold onto the lead with five stages to go and Marcus only 15 seconds behind, I do think it was a crying shame that he had to retire out from the lead. I'm looking forward to when he does get his first win.
Next ouch: Richard. Considering that he was missing the ALS through all of the last stages, he put in a very good showing -- until the turbo blew. It's probably a good thing that one of my roommates was already awake when that happened, so my suppressed wails of "no, no, no!" didn't wake her up. All things considered, it probably could have been worse. But having big mechanical problems halfway through the final stage has got to suck.
Anyone besides me notice that all three of the Fords had gearbox problems this time? That can't be a good sign on a new car.
On the *wince* side: Carlos' time penalty. It would have been fascinating to see if he could have maintained the lead with out that. Ending up in second even with it was darn cool.
I'm going to preface my next comment with a little perspective orientation. I just started watching rally in the past seven months (the first one I saw was last year's Australia). I managed to catch a recap on all of last year, but it was out of order. I saw the end of the year first, then went back and picked up the first six rallies later. This has left me with a firm presumption that Marcus always wins. It's also left me with a good deal of annoyance over this, since where's the fun in knowing who is going to win before the rally starts? So while I think that Marcus is cool as a person, and amazing as a driver, I always root against him.
That said, this was definitely a victory that he earned. When the times came in for him for the state where he hit the rock I thought, that's it, he's out of podium contention. (I was actually pleased about this for more than one reason. I like being able to root for him -- when I know he can't win. Don't accuse me of consistency.) Watching him climb back up to first was... well, wow. I hope that his coming back off of such a setback can serve as an example to everyone else in the future.
I was pleased to see Harri finish his first rally of the season.
I was very pleased to see Subaru pick up some more points.
Overall, this was pretty much everything I expected from Argentina. Last year's rally sort of set my expectation that much unexpectedness ensues here. There have been some people talking about dropping Argentina from the Championship, particularly after all the timing problems and cancelled stages this year. I think that would be a pity, since from just what I've seen, Argentina consistently has a lot of excitement to it.
As I mentioned in the first Argentina post, this round I was experimenting with following the rally live. One of the big questions I had was if knowing what would happen would make catching Speed's rally broadcast less fun. The final answer seems to be, in a way yes. But mostly, no.
Hearing about cars, and watching cars' times through stages fundamentally is not the same as actually being able to see cars. Moving cars, no less. It's part of the nature of the beast, so watching the telecast fills in that gap.
What got covered in the telecast and what was mentioned on the radio did not always overlap. For example, the TV broadcast didn't mention the incorrect timing issues from the first day, or mention anything about the way all the stages got delayed and rearranged for the second day. But it did mention several incidents and minor technical problems (some of which contributed to the more major technical problems that did get mentioned.) The two types of coverage complimented each other nicely.
So, overall I think I will declare the experiment to be a success. Now let's see how it works with a ten hour time zone difference, instead of a mere four hours.
Oh, Speed's coverage on this event was back to normal, I am happy to report. There was a definite minimum of Nicky. My favorite quote from the broadcast came from on of the interviewers talking to Marcus at the start of day 3: "Would you be scared if you were chasing yourself?" I was impressed that Marcus managed to come up with an answer that was neither snide, nor sarcastic. I know with a straight line like that, I would not have been able to resist.
And that's all for now. We'll see you all again in three weeks, when the WRC moves to --
*bonks self over head*
Right. Sorry. No more sounding like the announcer. (Must add that to my list of "You know you've been watching too much rally when...")