Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The #WRC Rally of Portugal rant...

Once upon a time there was a Rally.

Some said it was the best Rally... "in the world!" (/Clarkson accent)

This Rally was made of iconic technical and spectacular stages full of jumps, hairpins, and audience.

Stages like "Fafe" have been included in the "Best Rally Stages" (video).

But then there were problems. Audience misbehaving (there, as well as in other Countries...) and massively powered beasts called "Group B".

In 1986 a Portuguese driver lost control and crashed into the audience. I've always said: "YES, audience misbehaved massively", but also, "not in this case". They were not ON the road, they weren't even on the corner exit (video at 1.53).

So "Group B" cars were killed off, we lost our Rally in the World Championship, and Rallying took a turn for a surgical, lonely racing activity in stages were "safety" could be guaranteed.

To compensate the lack of audience, there were created "Super Special Stages" in stadiums and rally cross tracks.

For a couple of years now, we got our WRC event back (kind of). Running around in the Algarve narrow (and mostly boring) dirt roads. Drivers think it's a "meh" Rally, dust is a problem, and it's placing in the South, distant from the tradicional Rallying sites in the Center and North of the Country and the lack of accessibility or local knowledge means: EMPTY STAGES. Which unfortunately is what organizers want, to make sure we "keep it safe" and that the event remains in Portugal.

And then there are "Public oriented stages" in the stadium. Safe, with parking, restaurants, etc.

Well screw that! This is not soccer! It's Rally! I want to go to the hills in the morning, bring my own food and drink, watch them go by and return in the evening full of dirt, photos and a huge smile on my face.

(click image to see gallery)

...bring my kids and have some quality time surrounded by friends (old ones or just made on the spot), not in a stadium full of strangers, fearing their abduction.

(Although Maddie McCann was not abducted in my opinion, but that's another rant all together).

This year, we had a Rally Sprint a week before the Rally itself. It was run in the most famous of all stages "Fafe", with the best audience possible.

People behaved and we proved that Rallying has to be done with and for the audience, and for the drivers.

These writings on the tarmac paying homage to Colin, Burns and Toivonen show how much these people love and know the sport. Spanish "afficcion" was there too, massively.

Point being:

Miss Mouton and Messieur Todt, give Rallying back to the people who made it what it (still?) is. The audience. Let the drivers enjoy and fear the hard stages. The conquest of the challenges. Screw the boring races where the best machine always prevails.

Rallying is NOT this:
(even though rolling a Group B Audi Sport Quattro looks funny, it feels safe, controlled and boring)

Let people on the road make the difference once more. Because rallying, is this:

What's the point of having Red Bull sponsored cars if they can't fly anyway?

Saturday, March 17, 2012

The F1 world unawareness of Grosjean rant

I've been reading on this #F1 practice on the web (fell asleep last night), and something is getting annoying to me.

Besides the obvious spotlight for the 1-2 from the Macs, next up is the german love/hate thing about Schum on a Merc ahead of Vettel, some Ferrari scorn poor performance notes and very little about the 3rd place man Grosjean.

Are people so involved in the Eclestone flying F1 "circus" that are unaware of the racing world outside it?

"Shum experience this, Vettel that, Redbulls struggling, Ferraris too bla, bla, bla... oh and there's that 'whats-his-name' in 3rd". From whom I know very little about so I'll stick to gossip about the same old ones.

There should be a special piece about him telling his story, where he comes from, his best moments, like this one:

...and how good this 3rd place Quali actually is on a car other than the usual top ones - MacLaren/RedBull/Ferrari/Mercedes.

I wrote months ago how happy I was to see him back, on what appeared to be a half decent car this time round. Tiff Needel tweeted about it. But the "specialized" press seamed to see it as just another report. They still seam to know very little about him, or they regard his coming and his first performance as very little.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The psVita rant...

Ok, so there's another portable console out.

And from it's from Sony, so it's good right?

Well, not necessarily.

Yes, the hardware is extremely good. Despite none of the slots being identified (except VITA game one) and you being able to shove almost anything into the memory card slot, it won't break. And everything else is pretty sturdy. Yes the two bottom loops when seen from the back seam unfinished, but that's being picky.

The problem is it's expensive, it requires a new expensive memory card (and a "small" 4GB won't be worth much...), and the games are all paid and (you guessed it) expensive.

It has also the regional separate ecosystem from other consoles, with different free demos for each (reducing the amount of free stuff you can get).

Sony has decided or kept (as Apple) that 49,99 is the same for US Dollars or Euros. That makes the games even more expensive for me.

There is no additional functionality (so far...) when compared to my trusty old PSP fat. Yes, better hardware (display), but what for? Where do you put your old games? The ones with physical support that is? I sure as hell won't be re-buying "online" and downloading them, just to play on a bigger screen. And €49,99 is just not even close to a fair price for any of the "top" new games available right now.

So how can you try and get more out of this?

Well, you can always use different accounts, one for each "market" an then login to download stuff. But on the Vita, it gets "registered" to one account and you can't even simply log out and log in. You need to format the console(!) to do so.

Still, it is possible and worthy of it especially today. You see, Scion have decided to offer the MotorStorm RC game in the US today only. So if you haven't already, register an US account, and during this afternoon, do the following:

- Go to Settings > Format > Restore the PS Vita System.
- Say YES to deactivate account (and other)
- Say NO to format memory card.
- Console will reboot.
(Note: always keep your memory stick inside the Console)

- Go through the motions... date, time, wifi, etc
- Log in with US credentials, download any/everything

To go back to your standard account, you'll need to repeat the process.

This has worked in the past to download free Demos from different markets (US and JP) that remain playable in/with other accounts. There's no assurance that it will work with a full game, but there's also no reason not to try it.

For me, it's the only way I'm getting a full game.


Now that I've tried some decente demos from the US Store I can tell you 2 things.

1 - Game play is "superior". The second joystick makes a big difference. Also having touch, triggers and buttons forces you to "immerse" yourself much more into the game.

2 - A 4GB memory card is very, very, very little. Especially if you want to download the games instead of buying a physical copy. Which I still recommend since it's the same price and doesn't take-up precious space form the memory card (I think...)

Still waiting on MotorStorm RC to become available...

I hate cars, cause I love them...

I hate modern heavy pieces of junk some people call cars.

I hate misconceived bundles of plastic some people call cars.

I hate most of the crapy means of auto-transportation out there, sold as cars for incredible prices.

But I love Cars. Cars with at least a C for character. Or an S for soul, a P for pleasure, an R for rewarding, an F for fun. Or more than one of those. But definitely not a B for boring, or U for unreliable.

My current car has several of the above, while being an efficient people carrier at the same time.

When it was on sale, it wasn't very successful. Because people were buying heavy german diesel tug boats with "more room", "more equipment" and allegedly "more confortable" and "more economic". Well that is not what I look for in a Car.

My car's chassis and suspension is 10x better than those, it doesn't even feel like a 7 seater. It does not roll when cornering, it's Rewarding.

The VTEC has Soul (much, much more than a laggy Turbo Diesel tug engine).

The car is Fun to drive and you can get a lot of Pleasure out of it, without it getting uncomfortable.

It looks unique (there are not 3 of the same around with different badges), elegant (not like a supped up Transit van) and all that gives it Character.

On top of which it's also remarkably simple (no unnecessary gadgetery) efficient and reliable.

To help make my point, here are a couple Cars I love:

Toyota GT 86 / Subaru BRZ
Godzilla (Nissan GT-R) and "Nibbles" (as I like to call the Juke-R)
Honda NSX
Ferrari 458
any 911
Honda S2000
Mini (original)
Alpine A110
Honda Civic EU up until 2006
(when they ruined it by "removing" the rear suspension and placed a piece of iron to hold the wheels together).
Datsun 1200 (and the 1600 SSS) aka b510
Toyota AE 86
BMW e39 530D
Ferrari 288 GTO
Aston Martin V12 Vanquish
BMW e60 M5 (V10)
any M3
almost any Corvette
Ferrari 599 GTO
Mercedes SL 190
'76 Golf GTI
Ferrari 250 GTO
Lacia Stratos
Citroen Dyane
Ferrari 512 BB
any RWD Toyota Celica

...and some I do not:

VW Beetle
New VW Beetle
New Mini
New Honda Civic (EU)
any modern Mercedes SL
any SLK
Ferrari FF
Porsche Cayenne
Corvette 305 "California"
Pontiac Fiero
almost any Audi, including the Quattro road car
BMW X5, X3, X1...
Ferrari 308/328, 348, 360, 430...
any Toyota Corolla (except the EU AE-86 disguised as a Corolla)
any FWD / AWD Toyota Celica
any FWD overpowered tire shredder modern hot-hatch that pretends to re-invent the GTI or the Type-R

I'll keep updating the list...

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