Last year it was all but a tie between the Peugeot 908 and the Ford Focus RS WRC. This year it is again all but a tie, so let me talk about both cars. Well, Actually, all three.
1st and 2nd Place: Subaru. Which one? BOTH! They fielded two cars during this years WRC: the WRC 2007 (above) until Greece (Rally 7), then the 2008 (below) for the rest of the season. And you know what? They both did well. Just looking at the numbers in WRC it seems like the award should again go to Ford or Citroen, but fuck it: Subaru took two podiums last year, being the only non-Citroen and non-Ford car to get up on those steps, and this year they took six. Six! And four of them were in the same car from last year. Splendid improvement! That is the team working their ass off in the off-season and getting a spectacular beginning to the 2008 season for the Subaru team. Again, two seasons in a row, podiums have been all Citroen, Ford, and Subaru. I root for the underdogs.
I didn't really intend to give this award to a WRC car two years in a row, but come on, Subaru wouldn't let me not do it. They rocked this year. And then they dropped it: Subaru added their name to the list of Motorsports Teams exiting Motorsports. Here's an SA thread about it. I mean seriously Subaru, what the fuck? You run your new car for half a year, then abandon it? I don't even understand the logic of pulling out after putting millions into research and development. Subaru is a brand known, at least in my generation, for RALLY. And now they don't RALLY. All we get for our Subaru fix is now privateer teams, and stuff. That's not as exciting. I want to see the beautiful blue body with the magnesium wheels obscured by dust and flying through the air. Those two pictures above, that is what I love about Subaru. Here's more pictures of Subaru:
THAT is Subaru, not this:
COME BACK SUBARU! PLEASE!
2008 Monte Carlo Rally in the Old Car
2008 Greece & Turkey Rally in the New Car
Ken Block at an airport with his Gen2 Subaru.
3rd Place: Charouz Racing Systems. Again, not the best results, but come on, just look at it. And it's Aston Martin's first Prototype racer since 1989. And it's made by Lola - always one of my favorite body manufacturers. So in the Le Mans series it took third in its first race ever. Phenomenal start. Race 2? 17th. OUCH. Race 3: 29th. WOW. Then there was Le Mans, where they got beat by Pescarolo and Oreca-Matmut and finished 9th, on the same lap as the lead LMP2 Porsche RS Spyder. But they had an off and still finished in the top 10! Race 4 at the Ring: 5th. Only behind two Audis and two Peugeot's, NICE! Race 5: 2nd. AWESOME! Charouz gets the win here because it overcame its reliability issues to take second place in the last race of the season. There were a couple of depressing finishes there: almost getting beat by a Porsche RS Spyder at Le Mans, not cracking the Peugeot/Audi front at the Ring - but they stuck with it and didn't give up.
This is motorsports, folks. You get a car and run it like hell. When it breaks, you fix it as fast as possible and then run it like hell again until it breaks again. You get where this is headed? Though I have respect for Audi with the R8/R10 dominance of the millenium so far, Peugeot for their big-budget attempt to take Audi down, and Porsche for their stunning RS Spyder, I have more respect for Oreca-Matmut, Rollcentre, Creation, Charouz, Saulnier, Pescarolo - these teams that know they're not going to win unless the front runners have problems but stay out there for the love and adrenalin of racing. I am actually kind of happy Porsche and Audi are pulling out of ALMS: let's see some competition at the front! For years the competition has all been in the ever-exciting GT2 class. The regulators need to figure out a way to get LMP1 and LMP2 as exciting without killing it like the Daytona Prototypes. Meanwhile, I'll be over here in Idaho rooting for Charouz and their stunningly gorgeous car with the beautiful DBR9 engine in it.
Why Charouz? Their team attitude, their beautiful Lola B08/60 car, their sexy Aston Martin engine, their team work ethic, and their team ability to figure it out and pull out a podium in the first and last races of the season. Bravo! (This is starting to sound similar to the Subaru write-up above) Also, now there's two closed-top LMP1s on the track now. Tell me this isn't sexy:
Here's some videos:
The off at Le Mans that they came back from to finish in the top 10: going backwards that fast through the Dunlop can not be fun.
Dressed in sexy black for prototype testing.
Doing some quick qualifying and exciting the announcer with the split times.
The LMP2 version of this body in sexy black as well.