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.
Born near Birmingham on the 8 August 1953, Nigel Ernest Mansell drove his first car at the age of seven on an open field. He was inspired by Jim Clark, who won the 1962 British Grand Prix, and from then decided he would copy his hero. Like many other Formula One racers he started with cart racing and after much success became the 1977 British Formula Ford champion, regardless of the fact that during the test run he suffered a broken neck. The doctors then informed him that the accident had brought him close to becoming a quadriplegic and that for six months after the accident he was to be confined and would probably never drive again. Nigel sneaked out on the pretense of going to the toilet and raced on.
Nigel Mansell put a lot on line to progress in his racing. Having given up his job as an aerospace engineer and having sold many of his personal items to finance his move into Formula Ford, he was not about to stop now. Later, Mansell and his loyal wife Rosanne sold their home to finance his next move into Formula Three. In 1979, Mansell was again in a near death accident when he collided with another car. For the second time Nigel Mansell was hospitalized, this time with a broken vertebra in his back. With so much at stake he took painkillers to hide the extent of his pain and performed well enough in the Lotus tryouts to become a test driver for the Formula One team.
In 1980 he took part in his Formula One debut at the Austrian Grand Prix. During the race he had a fuel leak in the cockpit, which left him with extremely painful first and second degree burns on his buttocks. In 1985 Nigel moved to Williams, but by the end of that season he had had no victories to show for the 71 Grand Prix starts he had taken part in. However, after that he became a prolific winner, starting with the 1985 European Grand Prix at Brands Hatch. In a period of 18 months he won 11 races but was unable to achieve two World Championships. In 1986 his season came to an end when his tyre burst in Adelaide.
Nigel Mansell fuelled his motivational fires with adverse situations and if they did not exist he went out of his way to create them. Although this caused many conflicts within the Williams team, the fans loved him for the pure unadulterated aggression with which he raced. In 1988 an opportunity came up at Ferrari and Mansell took it with both hands. In 1989 his debut with Ferrari came with a win, which endured him to his Italian fans who called him “The Lion”. At Hungaroring he qualified at a seemingly hopeless 12th on a track that was known to be impossible to overtake on. But Mansell stormed through the field and managed to just get pass Senna’s McLaren and win the race.
At the end of the season Nigel announced that he would be retiring for the season but a couple of months later came back onto the racing scene with Williams. 1991 saw him winning five times in the Williams-Renault but he was unable to take the title. In 1992 this changed and he was declared World Champion after winning nine out of the 16 races in his Williams-Renault FW14B. But with grieviances over money and the prospect of having his arch enemy as his 1993 team mate he retired from Williams and started with IndyCar racing in America where he dominated, becoming the 1993 IndyCar champion. A year later Williams talked him into returning for four more races, the last of which he won from pole position. In 1995 he raced two more times with McLaren but decided once and for all to retire after 187 races over 15 chaotic seasons. Nigel Mansell retired from racing to run several business enterprises and now lives a much quieter life with his wife and three children, taking part in a couple of racing events from time to time.
Riccardo Patrese of Italy is an outstanding Formula One driver who took part in 256 F1 races. He is known for his extensive career in F1 and scored World Championship points over a longer period of time than any other driver before him. A remarkable Formula One driver, Riccardo Patrese also had a lengthy winning record of eleven seasons between 1982 and 1992. Certainly a name to be remembered, Riccardo Patrese remains a great figure in Formula One racing.
Riccardo Patrese was born on 17 April 1954 in Padua of Italy. From a young age he was an avid sportsman and thoroughly enjoyed racing. As a youngster he would spend the summer months go-karting. He won several karting championships. Following his 1974 Karting Championship win, Patrese was offered a position in Formula Italia by Nettuno Racing. His career in racing advanced from there into Formula 3 as of April 1976. He quickly moved to Formula 2 and debuted as a Formula One Driver in May 1977. Riccardo Patrese began his F1 racing career with the Shado Grand Prix team. At his first race in Monaco he came in at 9th place, impressing all. By the end of the year he gained his first ever World Championship point.
Certain members of the Shadow team decided to break-away and form the Arrows team. Patrese went with them. The Arrows along with Patrese debuted at Silverstone in 1978. The new team quickly established itself at the South African Grand Prix where Patrese led for about 36 laps before car trouble struck. Many criticized Riccardo Patrese’s arrogant and aggressive driving style. Patrese was blamed for the death of F1 driver Ronnie Peterson in the 1978 race at Monza. Riccardo Patrese and Gianni Restelli were later charged with manslaughter, however, he was later cleared of blame.
In the year 1982 Riccardo Patrese began racing for the Brabham team. That year he met with great success and a marvelous win. He later changed to the Alfa Romeo team between 1984 and 1985 and then back to Brabham between 1986 and 1987. Then in 1988 Patrese went to Williams. Riccardo Patrese gained victory once again in San Marino Grand Prix in 1990. Once again 1991 saw numerous successes for Patrese. Riccardo Patrese ended his career in F1 Grand Prix racing for Bennetton alongside Michael Schumacher in 1993.
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.
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.