Rally of Nations 2009 gets underway with ceremonial Start in Guanajuato

July 15, 2009 by  
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The Corona Rally México in it’s edition Rally of Nations 2009 got off to a colorful start in the city of Guanajuato, to the sound of mariachis, and folk music that set many a foot tapping, together with many other expressions of Mexican culture. Guanajuato, a World Heritage town, threw quite a bash to welcome the 45 crews who will be fighting for first place tomorrow, when the race is on.

The main ceremonial start for this edition took place in front of both the Juárez Theatre and the Alhóndiga de Granaditas, where more than 30,000 people gathered to give rally participants a typically warm Mexican welcome, and to wish them good luck in the race.

The icing on the cake was an appearance by 2003 WRC champion, the Norwegian Petter Solberg, who rode in on a motorcycle to surprise the crowd, getting the Mexican feeling.

The first crew to get on the podium to receive the applause of the audience was that made up of one of the legends in world rally events, the Frenchman Didier Auriol, together with Denis Giraudet, who has been his co-driver during a great part of his history in the sport.

They were the first major names to drive onto the podium in front of the Juarez Theatre, followed by international figures such as the Finns, Harri Rovanperä and Toni Gardemeister; the Spaniards Dani Sola and Xavi Pons; the Swede Per-Gunar Andersson; the Austrian Manfred Stohl and his female co-driver Ilka Minor, as well as promising newcomer, Andreas Aigner. The Mexican teams were well represented by the current champion in Production Car group, Rodrigo Ordoñez, as well as Ricardo Triviño a driver who has competed in several world championships.

AT&T Williams F1 Team

February 9, 2009 by  
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The AT&T Williams F1 team, was established by Sir Frank Williams, together with Patrick Head. It was known at that time as the Williams Grand Prix Engineering team, and has since then become one of the three top contenders in the world of Formula One. In its history of Formula One racing, the Williams Team has walked away with nine Constructor’s titles. Their first race was at the Spanish Grand Prix in 1977, with Clay Regazzoni (from Switzerland) securing the first win for the team in 1979 at the British Grand Prix. The Williams team’s 100th win was made possible by Jacques Villeneuve in 1997 at the Hungarian Grand Prix. Together with McLaren and Ferrari, the Williams team consistently features amongst the top contenders. The chassis for the Williams F1 team, always has a “FW” followed by a number, being the initials for the proud team owner, Frank Williams.

Frank Williams had tried his hand in Formula One racing twice before founding Williams F1 in 1977. He previously had been running two operations, namely Walter Wolf Racing and Frank Williams Racing Cars. But it was the Williams team that brought him success. Many famous drivers have been behind the wheel of a Williams car, and to name a few: Nigel Mansell, Alain Prost, Keke Rosberg and Ayrton Senna. In 1994, Patrick Head, Frank Williams and the Williams designer, Adrian Newey, faced manslaughter charges, after the tragic and fatal accident at the San Marino Grand Prix in 1994, that took Ayrton Senna’s life. The three men were cleared of all charges in 2005.

The Williams team did not only have different drivers contributing to their success, but also different engines. Williams was able to win five Constructor titles with a Renault engine. Frank Williams did not achieve the success he so desired with his Frank Williams Racing Cars operation. He established the Walter Wolf Racing outfit after many promises from the millionaire, but due to the uncompetitive cars and unfulfilled promises, Williams relocated to Didcot, and the birth of Williams F1 had started. Williams recruited Patrick Head as engineer of his new project and the “William-Head” partnership lasted throughout the years. The following years would see many successes and many disappointments and heartbreaking losses, but despite all the challenges of the changing times, Williams has always come through.

2007 was a year of changes for the Williams F1 Team – Toyota supplied the engines for the season; Alexander Wurz moved up from his position as test driver to the team’s second driver, thereby replacing Mark Webber; Kazuki Nakajima took the position of test driver; and AT&T became the primary official sponsor of the team, after having withdrawn its sponsorship of McLaren when they signed with competitor Vodafone. Nico Rosberg remained the number one driver of the team and tallied up a respectable number of points for the Williams F1 Team. Wurz did not perform as well and upon announcing his retirement, test driver Nakajima took over for the final race of the season in Brazil where he started near the back of the grid and managed to finish in tenth spot.

With Nico Rosberg and Kazuki Nakajima as principle drivers, the Williams F1 Team had its fair share of both successes and disappointments in 2008, finishing the season eighth in the constructions championship. Despite a disappointing 2008 season and rumblings of discontent from Rosberg, both drivers stayed on with Williams for the 2009 season. Towards the end of the 2009 season it was announced that the team would not be renewing its partnership with Toyota and would be looking for a new engine supplier for 2010. This turned out to be the UK-based private company Cosworth, an automotive engineering company specializing in auto racing engines that supplied the Cosworth CA2010 for the Williams FW32 cars. By the end of 2009 the Williams F1 Team had claimed 9 Constructors’ Championships, 7 Drivers’ Championships, 113 race victories, 125 pole positions and 130 fastest laps. Drivers for the 2010 season are Rubens Barrichello and Nico Hulkenberg, with Valtteri Bottas as test driver.

McLaren F1 Team

February 9, 2009 by  
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The McLaren Motor Racing team was first founded in 1963 by New Zealander Bruce McLaren. The team’s Grand Prix debut was made at the Monaco track in 1966 and, despite some early technical difficulties, Team McLaren has never looked back. By 1968 the team had earned their first win with Bruce McLaren himself behind the wheel at the Belgium Grand Prix. Today the McLaren F1 Racing Team is seen as one of the most successful Formula One teams. Their Grand Prix successes are surpassed only by Ferrari and for quite some time they dominated the world of Grand Prix racing.

Not long after McLaren’s first Grand Prix win in 1968, driver James Hunt won the team’s first Driver’s Championship. That was in 1976 and the win was a sign of things to come. By 1984, Niki Lauda won a Grand Prix Championship on behalf of the McLaren team, and the 1980’s proved to be a phenomenal decade for the team. In fact, McLaren emerged to completely dominate the Formula One racing scene. However, the team’s success started to fade about midway through the 1990’s when Honda decided to drop out of Formula One racing. The team then went through a period of experimentation – switching from manufacturer to manufacturer in an attempt to find a winning combination. Eventually McLaren found that the Mercedes-Ilmor engine showed promise and they started a slow climb back to success. At about this time Team McLaren also lost their Marlboro sponsorship and subsequent trade-mark red and white livery. The team took up the silver Mercedes livery in its place and the change could be said to be an appropriate display of the ending of one period for the team and the beginning of another.

Mercedes has continued to supply the team’s engines and today the full name of the team is Vodafone McLaren Mercedes, acknowledging both of its primary sponsors. It is based in Woking, Surrey in the UK and the team principle is Ron Dennis. As at the end of the 2009 season, McLaren had won 8 Constructor Championships, 12 Driver Championships, and notched up 164 victories. The McLaren team has World Championship winners Lewis Hamilton (2008) and Jenson Button (2009) as its principle drivers for the 2010 F1 Grand Prix Championship, with the new MP4-25 as the car of the year.

Super Aguri F1 Team

February 9, 2009 by  
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Super Aguri F1 withdrew from F1 racing in 2008.

Super Aguri F1 is a new team that recently joined the ranks of other Formula One teams in 2006 and is known as the Super Aguri Hondas, and is seen as an unofficial Honda ‘B’-team. The team was formed by Aguri Suzuki, a former F1 driver and is based in Tokyo, Japan although it operates from the former Arrows factory in Leafield, UK. The team came about due to public pressure on Honda, Japan; to help one of its former drivers, Takuma Sato, continue to compete in F1.

Aguri Suzuki, as mentioned before, started Formula One racing in 1989 participating regularly in F1 races. Before this Suzuki had competed in quite a few championship races held in Japan. A year later he made third place at the Japanese Grand Prix and became one of the first Japanese drivers to take to the F1 podium. When Aguri Suzuki finished up with F1 racing he moved back to Japan where he founded the Autobacs Racing Team Aguri project, managing the driver development and racing team programs.

Later in 2003 he formed the Super Aguri Fernandez Racing with Adrian Fernandez, an IRL IndyCar driver, and then participated in the series. Three years later he took part in the Japanese top formula, All Japan Championship Formula Nippon, in the Japanese top touring category SUPER GT series, well continuing as ARTA Project producer. Up until now there has been no other person who has been able to manage not only a Formula One team but also many other racing teams in a lot of of the world’s top categories all at the same time.

The FIA announced early in 2006 that the teams had accepted the late entry of Super Aguri to the 2006 FIA Formula One World Championships. This also came with the announcement that Yuji Ide and Takuma Sato had been signed up as drivers for the teams first season with Franck Montagny as third driver. After four races it was decided that Montagny would take Ides place as driver in the European Grand Prix and other races. The 2007 plans for the teams second season have not been finalized yet. Super Aguri has announced that Anthony Davidson, a former Honda and test driver, will be driving with Takuma Sato for the team in 2007.

Petty Enterprises

February 9, 2009 by  
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Petty Enterprises merged with Gillett Evernham Motorsports in 2009 to form Richard Petty Motorsports.

Petty Enterprises is one of NASCAR’s many racing teams and is owned by Richard Petty as well as his son Kyle Petty. Petty Enterprises is based in Randleman, North Carolina. Richard and Kyle supervise the operations of their two NEXTEL Cup Dodge Chargers: the number 45 Marathon Petroleum Company Dodge, which Kyle Petty drives himself and the number 43 Cheerios/Betty Crocker Dodge, driven by Bobby Labonte. It was 1969 when the team was officially named Petty Enterprises. Throughout NASCAR’s history, Petty Enterprises has always been know and famous for its success, but in recent years they have been struggling.

The team has been operating as far back as 1949 when Richard Petty’s father, Lee Petty, first formed Lee Petty Engineering as a NASCAR Grand National Division team with the number 42. Not only was the company formed that year but also the team won their first win at Heidelberg Raceway, finishing second in points that season. 1950 and 1951 saw Petty’s team win one race each season with a victorious three wins in 1952. With this success the team expanded by incorporating another vehicle, the Plymouth, which Jimmie Lewallen drove. The following years saw a major increase in races won by Petty Enterprises. By 1979 the team had won 10 championships in NASCAR premier series.

From 1980 to 1984 Richard Petty drove hard and won several races, but from there on till his retirement he did not win another race. This bad fortune did not stop there, it continued after Richard’s retirement with Petty Enterprises only winning another three races. In 2006 Petty Enterprises hired Bobby Labonte, after he won the NEXTEL Cup, to drive the #43 car and hired Robbie Loomis, who had served as a crew chief for Jeff Gordon, to be executive vice president.

The Petty Family created the number 43 car, hence its name Petty Blue. The blue color is distinct and was created apparently by mistake because of not having enough paint to cover the whole car. It was rumored that the famous paint scheme came about when Richard Petty would not allow sponsors to sponsor his car unless they agreed to keep part of the car blue and the rest they could paint STP Red.

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