Mighty extreme range of conditions in week's motorsport

By David Thomson on Sat, 16 Feb 2013

From the snows of Scandinavia to the rains of Australia and the baking heat of New Zealand, last weekend was a fascinating one for motorsport around the globe.

Starting on the far side of the world, I was delighted to see Frenchman Sebastian Ogier power his way to a solid win (and the world championship lead) in the Swedish rally.

The sharp end of world championship rallying has been far too much of the same-old, same-old in recent years, and one can only hope that Ogier's win - the first for the new Volkswagen Polo R in the WRC - signals changing times.

Never mind the fact that the familiar pairing of Sebastian Loeb in a Citroen were second, for back in third we had Mads Ostberg in a Ford: three different marques in the top three has to be good for the sport.

Ogier's win, incidentally, is the first in many years for VW in the World Rally Championship; as best I can recall the last time the German marque featured on the top step of the podium was way back in 1987, when Kenneth Eriksson won the Ivory Coast Rally in a Golf GTi.

Closer to home, Nick Cassidy lived up to his billing as hot favourite by winning the New Zealand Grand Prix for the second successive year. It wasn't all plain sailing for the Kiwi, as British driver Alex Lynn qualified on pole, and successive safety-car periods meant the buffer Cassidy sought to build on those behind was eliminated on a regular basis.

With his victory, Cassidy also secured the 2013 Toyota Racing Series international title.

Last and not least, it was great to see Otago racer Allan Dippie and fellow mainlanders Scott O'Donnell and Gus McFarlane bring their Porsche 997 home strongly in the Bathurst 12-hour enduro event.

As Dippie predicted, the quality of this year's entry meant a repeat of the top-10 results he has enjoyed in 2011 and 2012 was going to be a tall order. Instead, the trio came home 15th overall and a very pleasing third in class.

Outright honours at Mt Panorama were scooped by the German trio of Alex Rollof, Thomas Jaeger and Bernd Schneider in a Mercedes AMG SLS.

Well-known New Zealander Craig Baird, partnering Irishman Matt Griffin and Asian GT champion Mok Weng Sung, finished second in a Ferrari 458 GT3. Kiwi Shane van Gisbergen featured in the third-place combination, driving a Porsche 911 GT3 R.

Bathurst served up a real mix of conditions, the race commencing in bright sunshine and blistering temperatures, and ending in a torrential downpour.

David Thomson