Wednesday, October 6, 2010

[Indy Car] Graham Rahal 2011, he has the money now where to?

Graham has driven for four different teams over the course of the 2010 season after losing his ride with Newman/Haas due to a lack of funding over the winter. He started in only 12 of the 17 races but placed in the top ten seven times with a season high of fifth in Toronto. But in my eye's his most impressive drive came at the second race of the season at St Pete when he managed to place the Sarah Fisher Racing Dollar General car ninth.

I have been following this for several weeks now since a few random tweets (rumors only) from the paddock suggested Graham to Ganassi in 2011. Also on Graham's twitter page he seemed very light hearted about the end of the year coming up and it was no surprise when he announced at Homestead Miami that he had already secured funds for the 2011 season, which great for him, but now we all have to wonder what team and are the rumors true.

"TBC Corp.’s Retail Group will back racer Graham Rahal for the next two years in the Izod IndyCar Series with its ServiceCentral, Tire Kingdom, NTB, Merchant’s Tire and Big O brands, although Mr. Rahal has not committed yet to a team for next year."

With the rumors of Ganassi floating around I did manage to find an interview with his agent John Caponigro who said “You’re darn right, we are talking to Ganassi. We want to get Graham on one of the top teams in the series and that team is certainly at the top of the list.”

Bob Crostarosa, senior vice president of marketing and advertising for TBC Retail Group commetned that they were "still interviewing teams and having discussions with teams. We have narrowed it down to a couple and we have a couple that we prefer but we are continuing to discuss that. We will jointly decide that team."

One of the other teams that was directly mentioned was Rahal Letterman Racing (RLR) which has been out of Indy Car racing since 2008 due to lack of sponsorship with the exception of running the 2009 Indy 500 with Oriol Servia and 2010 Indy 500 with Graham Rahal. They have however been competing in the ALMS series winning the 2010 ALMS Manufacturer and Team Championships with BMW. It would be interesting to see this team attempt to make a comeback into the sport with a strong young talent like Graham Rahal but I don't know if it would be the best decision for him as far as progressing his career.

Graham Rahal commented “Again, we are talking to a lot of teams. Dad’s team did a good job for me at Indy but the best thing for me to do is not be in my father’s shadow. I need to do it on my own. We have not canceled anything out but we have a lot of teams in play.”

Big thanks to inRacing news for the interview comments above.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

[F1] Kamui Koayashi

I wont be shy about it, Kamui is my opinion is easily the best of the new drivers giving us surprise after surprise. Although he started the year with 4 straight DNF's and began to give doubt to Saubers decision to sign him after his brilliant debut for Toyota (stepping in for the injured Timo Glock in 2009). He then came back for several top 10 finishes including a very surprising 6th at Silverstone. He has also sneaked into Q3 three times this year although never able to qualify higher then tenth. The young Japanese driver has a 2010 average finishing grid position of 9th, higher then a certain seven time world champion this year.

In his recent interviews he has leaned the importance of just being consistent and making sure to finish races. I think Sauber was struggling with some issues with the car early in the year and some of his credited accident DNF's may have been results of that. But in spite of those and specifically a front wing mishap that was very much nothing he could control that took him out of the race he commented upon asking if the cars front wing failed "I will have to look at that data." Obviously to the driver it was a very clear failure but the driver was not about to toss the blame on the team and make them look bad.

Another thing this young Japanese driver has done that his older experienced (ex) teammate has not managed to do, is show that he can take care of the car and his engine. The reliability of the Ferrari engine has been a huge talking point of the season and with only four races remaining, Kamui still has two unused engines.

It also bears mentioning his up bringing in Japan and where he would have likely been if not in F1 this year. Many drivers would have gone to lower series of racing or become a backup driver for another team but Kamui, well he most likely would have ended up back home helping out in his fathers sushi shop. Kamui best explains his experiences growing up in Japan carting himself here in an article on F1 Fanatic (my personal fav F1 website).

His results and his speed speaks for itself and he has learned he needed to prove consistency after a rough start to the season. With new sponsors coming to the team in 2011 I really hope good things for the Japanese driver and also a good showing at his home grand prix this weekend. I make no effort to hide the fact that Kamui Koayashi is one of my personal favorite drivers in the sport right now and my favorite among the young guns in the sport.

[Indy Car] Finally at Homestead

It was an interesting race that started off simple enough. Dario with his impressive qualifying run took off with his teammate and Will and Brisco in pursuit with TK sneaking up to throw a little bit of a curve ball but then it all went south very fast.

But in truth it started to go south much sooner then the start of the race... from the second Will was interviewed after qualifying it was vary obvious to me and the rest of the world that this was not the same Aussie that we had gotten to know this season, he seemed unsure, shaken even... You could see it in his body language and even before the start of the race that he was not himself and did not have his normal feeling of confidence and as the race continued on he started off well but made mistake after mistake falling further back until finally he found his way up in the wall.

The press surrounded Will as he came in as his team tried desperately to make the repairs needed to get the car back out, and I for one am not entirely sure that there was something crippling wrong with it the second time he brought it in, more that he just wanted out of the car, that he was done. It make me think of Days of Thunder, when a racing car driver has lost it you can't make him race.

If Will would have played it cool and hung in there and Dario ended the race where he did, the championship would have come to him and he could have just driven it home to the championship.

I for one think Dario's cool bravado and hard hits to Will's overwhelming lead in the championship whittled away at the Aussie's lead and confidence till he had nothing left.

To 2011 and a two car Lotus team, and 2012 with new lighter cars and a more powerful engine. This chapter is closed and Dario may very well have proved that he may be the best of this generation...