Alain Prost goes ice racing

Alain Prost, Toyota, Andros Trophy, 2008I’ve always thought it strange that most motor racing stops during the winter – precisely when driving conditions are at their most challenging.

There’s precious little motor racing action aside from A1 Grand Prix at this time of year. But happily the French ice racing championship Andros Trophy is underway – and four times F1 World Champion Alain Prost is back for another go.

Prost races for the Toyota team alongside former Toyota F1 driver Olivier Panis. Unlike their F1 counterparts, the Toyota ice racing team are highly competitive and Prost won the title for the team last year.

In September Prost has surgery on his left foot, the legacy of the injury he incurred when he crashed out of the lead at Monte-Carlo in 1982. That was three years before his first title.

Alain Prost, Olivier Panis, Toyota, Andros Trophy, 2008Twenty-six years later he’s defending his ice racing crown and after the first three round he lies second on 448 points. Franck Lagorce leads with 450 – the Frenchman started two races for Ligier in 1994. Also in the field this year is Margueritte Laffite, daughter of F1 driver Jacques.

Jacques Laffite is among the other past French F1 drivers to have competed in the Andros Trophy. Jean-Pierre Beltoise, Jean-Louis Schlesser and Patrick Tambay have also participated.

Of today’s racers I’d particularly like to see the oversteer-happy Lewis Hamilton give it a try. Also Heikki Kovalainen, who proved a dab hand in rally cars when he beat multiple World Rally Champion Sebastien Loeb in the Race of Champions in 2004, and Kimi Raikkonen. They’re both Finns, they know snow, surely they’d be front runners.

Sadly we seldom see top F1 drivers racing in other major competitions. The one-off Race of Champions attracts a decent crowd, but I’d love to see more F1 drivers in another French race – the Le Mans 24 Hours – as they did in the sixties and seventies.

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13 comments on Alain Prost goes ice racing

  1. Robert McKay said on 3rd January 2008, 15:46

    “I’ve always thought it strange that most motor racing stops during the winter – precisely when driving conditions are at their most challenging.”

    Me too. Especially when one considers that it’s not winter for everyone! There’s a real niche for motorsports this time of year. A1 GP got in on the act, though I tend to find the races rather sporadically placed (and overlapping the end and start of the F1 season seems to miss the point a bit as well, the calendar seems too long). And this year GP2 Asia is also starting in the early months, quite looking forward to that actually – I’d take GP2 over A1GP any time at the moment.

    But I’m surprised Bernie hasn’t ever thought of trying some sort of F1 winter series. How about 6 races (the first and last in Europe, and 4 in Asia, say), the teams using whatever car they finished the regular season with, no developments allowed? There’s plenty of countries wanting in on the F1 act (too many, you might say) so there’s a way of getting more countries on the calendar. You can do the same as GP2 Asia and hire different drivers for those races, should you wish (or your primadonna star want a long holiday), or use your test/third drivers and get some extra value from them! I’m sure there’d also be a chance/case for trying out things you wouldn’t do in regular F1, such as different quali systems, different race formats, etc. without changing anything technical about the cars themselves.

    I know the regular season is tough on the team personnel, so they’d probably have to hire a whole separate dedicated core team to do it, and it means racing whilst testing/developing the new full-season car (something they presumably do already anyway to some extent), but I think there could be a demand for it that would make it financially viable. Though maybe F1 saturation would be bad in the long run.

  2. ok it may seem a bit bare for F1 fans – but as in this article there are other forms of motor sport such as one of the greatest tests of man and machine – the lisbon dakar rally –
    it has a great website – bikes – cars – trucks – great coverage on eurosport – I love F1 – but when you see the trials and courage displayed by these mainly self funded people – it shows you how pampered our F1 drivers are – http://www.dakar.com/2008/DAK/presentation/us/r3_1-news.html – try it and enjoy – especially being at home with all its comforts

  3. Robert McKay said on 3rd January 2008, 21:31

    Out of interest alan, when/why did it stop being paris-dakar?

  4. It stopped being the paris – dakar in 2006 – thereis a great downloadable history pdf file about those years on their site – run out of ink will finish down load tommorrow – kicks of this week end robert

  5. sorry robert the last time it was the paris dakar was in 2001 – not 2006 – am trying to find the reason why it moved from there

  6. from what I found out – it was the old favourite – politics that made the orginisers move from paris to other venues through the years

  7. Robert McKay said on 3rd January 2008, 22:34

    Cheers alan

    Damn politics gets its claws into all motorsports :-D

  8. Daniel said on 3rd January 2008, 23:26

    I think the traditional Rally isn’t properly Paris Dakar for a long time… That I recall, it became Granada Dakar for a while, and then began being called simply “Dakar Rally”… looking at Wikipedia, I saw, in fact, the last time it was Paris Dakar was in 2001, but before there were Granda Dakar years, like 1999…

    Still, it would be great for the rally to go back to its traditional route…

  9. Unfortunately this year has been cancelled – due to threats by terrorists against the race and 3 french tourists being shot recently – wouldn’t want anyone killed – so what was that suggestion Robert?

  10. As if to prove alan and Robert McKay right about politics affecting all motorsports :( . This is a real pity – the Dakar is a great endurance race and then some spoilsports who probably wouldn’t mind either way what happened to the race (as long as some other agenda is satisfied) go and ruin it.

  11. Robert McKay said on 4th January 2008, 15:26

    God, that’s quite shocking that the Dakar has been cancelled. Obviously it was 100% the right decision, but in being able to cancel the rally it’s got to be a “victory” for the terrorists :-(

    Oh, and I know the Dakar rally isn’t high on the British media’s priorities, but I think such a story does deserve some sort of attention on the major news channels, if only because of the terrorism angle.

  12. It does seem a victory for those people – and I know that in some areas that nations decide to show that they wont be defeated by them and go ahead – but it’s easy to say go ahead if it’s not youre life online – been there but that was elsewhere – and it is quite a shame for the great majority of race supporters/participants and the countries they help publicise – but it was possibly one of the organisers hardest decsions – especially so near the start?

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