Thursday, October 29, 2009

Who Did You Put Your Money On?

I thought it would be a good time to take a look back at those who were brave enough to post there predictions as to whom they thought would win or place.

Bill Beilharz had some pretty amazing predictions a week ago when he posted the following predictions...

Here's my finish predictions for the top 5:
1. Car 110 Blomqvist - Goni will win 1st overall (Day 6 1st place)
2. Car 144 Alejandro y Mauricio Pimentel Felicidades will finish a close 2nd (day 6 3rd overall)
3. Car 309 De Vries - Pratt will always be a threat but fade badly on the later high speed sections (Today on the 6th day he is in 76 overall)
4. Car 51 Castillo - Ramirez 3rd overall (Day 6 9th overall)
5. Car 121 Scheible - Marlett Karl will retire from physical exhaustion on Day 3 ;-) (Day 6 5th overall)

Some months ago Mats Hammarlund made the following prediction on his blog.

Stig Blomqvist is back in his Studebaker. The former World Rally Champion is very fast when everything is working. Last year he was 4th overall with a brand new car, despite some problems the first day. (Day 6 1st place)
2. Car 144 Alejandro y Mauricio Pimentel Felicidades will finish a close 2nd (day 6 3rd overall)

Lars Stugemo has had a lot of bad luck lately. Everything from being hit by a drunk driver on a transit to freak mechanical failure. He was also running first overall a few years ago when he went of in a very tricky turn in Mil Cumbress. Both I and Doug Mocket have been of in that same turn. Could this be his year? He was 5th last year. (Day 6 2nd place overall)

Karl Scheible will once again be driving our yellow Volvo. Carl is a many times American rally champion and he has a third and fourth overall in the Panamericana with our Volvo. We just repainted and waxed the car so let’s see if it goes any faster…… (Day 6 5th overall)

The bet for overall winner this year has to be Gabriel Perez in his new Studebaker. He has won the event before in a slower Turismo Production Ford and he was also the winner of the Chihuahua Express this year. (Day 6 80th place overall)

Doug Mocket is of course always very fast. I talked to him the other day and he said the only thing they had done was “put in new sparkplugs in the car”. He says he does that every year and every other year he changes oil. RIGHT! That Olds is probably one of the most developed cars in the whole Panamericana. It has been faster every year for at least the last ten years. (Day 6 23rd place overall)

Stewart Robinson is back with his wife Linda after a bad crash last year. Jamie Ham has been working on the car for a year so then you know it is very fast and also good looking. (Day 6 29th place overall)

There is some talk here in Mexico about Alejandro Pimentel. He is a very good rally driver and will be racing with his brother Mauricio. They are running a Dodge. It will be interesting to see how that goes. (Day 6 3rd place overall)

There you have it. The two fastest from last year (Bill Beilharz and Jorge Pedrero) is not coming but there is for sure no shortage of fast cars and experienced drivers/copilots. The key as always is to stay on the road and not have any mechanical problems (which is VERY hard!). Then you will do very well.

Then there was Gerie Bledsoe's (edit to shorten) predictions...


I opined that Gabriel Pérez Torres had to be considered the early favorite.

In addition to Mr. Perez, contenders to the title this year include everyone’s favorites Doug Mockett and Angelica Fuentes. They will return in their wind-tunnel tested ’54 Oldsmobile (“in name only”).

Jorge Roberto Pedrero must also be considered a viable contender for the title. Of course, with the race starting in Huatulco this year, Jorge – who hails from from Tuxtla Gutiérrez – loses his advantage the first day in the mountains of Chiapas.

Another pre-race favorite is the venerable leader of the Swedish contingent -- “the Stig.” Mr. Stig Blomquist is a former WRC champion, Swedish champion many times over, and now a veteran of Mexican road racing, with one Carrera and one Chihuahua Express under his belt. Mr Blomquist and his generous co-pilota must be considered heavy favorites, too.

Reportedly, MH Racing in San Miguel de Allende, the Stig’s shop, has changed engine builders in an effort to avoid the gremlins that have fustrated this team over the past couple of years. In the Chihuahua, Stig’s car suffered from serious overheating problems, but his car builder, Mats Hammarlund, has done everything humanly possible to ensure that Stig has a dependable car this year.

Following Stig closely will be the dashing Lars Stugemo in another Studebaker built by MH Racing. Lars is another Carrera vet, who has the requisite skill and experience skill to win this event. But does he have the patience? He certainly has the looks and charm to send the ladies into a swoon.

Last, but certainly not least, on my list of contenders is another car from the MH Racing stable--a Volvo Amazon driven by Karl Schieble. Karl lives in Texas, not Sweden, and he has placed as high as fourth overall in this Hammarlund Volvo in two prior years. While the Volvo runs in Turismo Mayor, the top class, it has 100 horsepower less horepower than TM Studebakers and Mockett’s Olds.

On the other hand, Karl was the U.S. and Canadian SCCA rally champion for several years and knows his way around a mountain corner or racetrack.


Who among this group of highly talented drivers and their trusty companions will win the event overall this year? That answer is easy. The crew and car with the least mechanical misfortune and the most luck will win. All of the leading cars, like the rest of us, are destined have at least one non-trival mechanical problem. That’s the nature of endurance racing.

This race will be decided by exactly when those mechanical failures occur: during a speed stage, a transit stage, or driving into the hotel’s parking lot at night. If one of the leaders misses a speed stage or loses significant power during a speed stage, it is pretty much out of the running for the top prize. After all, this is a long, arduous race, and the top drivers push their cars at 10/10s much of the time. Even a certain percentage of new, expensive racing parts will fail under these conditions. The question is – when and where the failure will occur? Being lucky, thus, will probably decide the outcome.


bbeilharz said...

Stig and Lars have probably spent today listening to every "strange" sound that their car makes. This last day is so fast on the long transit between Monterey and N. Laredo that even a flat tire could change the finish order.
Hopefully there were no "staged" cattle crossings on La Buffa this year.

LosVikingos_Ralf said...

Looks like some good bets there. I have my hopes up for my fellow Swedish drivers. They all deserve it. Stig has done a great job and I do wish that Lars get the chance some day to win. He's been trying many years now. And respect to Mats Hammarlund. A great guy with all those cars doing just incredible. Of course don't forget the mechanics and Eva. Not forgetting all other in and around the race.
Us back home send a very special thank you to Gary for his impressive blogging.
Next year I buy you a beer Gary.

Gary Faules said...

Oh no you dont Ralf! If anybodys gonna get anyone drunk I'm gonna get you drunk before I kick your butt in the race! ;)

Seriously... I will take you up on that beer. I acn't wait to see you my friend.