La Carrera Panamericana 2010 was held October 22-28 over 3,200 kilometers and seven stages through 10 states in Mexico, with former World Rally Championship driver Harri Rovanpera taking overall honors in a Studebaker.
La Carrera Panamericana 2010 saw competitors from Canada, Finland, Germany, Austria, Belgium, France, Italy, The Netherlands, Switzerland, Spain, Sweden, USA, Uruguay and Mexico. Cars ranged from modest VW Beetles to exotic European models all the way to the superfast Turismo Mayor Oldsmobiles, Dodges and Studebakers and Pierre de Thoisy’s Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing. In addition to the former World Rally Championship pilot Rovanpera, who drove for Seat, Peugot, Mitsubishi and Skoda Rovanpera, ex-Formula One and Endurance racing driver Jochen Mass participated in a Shelby GT350.
After leading for most of the race, the last Carrera Panamericana 2010 challenge for the Finnish Harri Rovanpera was La Bufa, key segment in the seventh stage of the race. This year the stage was between Aguascalientes and Zacatecas. Once again Harri Rovanpera approved with honors after winning the absolute championship just in his first attempt, this was a competitive race that was decided in the last moment due to the magnificent race performed by the Mexican Michel Jourdain.
As it become a regular image during the 23rd edition of the classical car race, the photo of Rovanpera crossing the finish line in the first position and this Thursday afternoon, at on side of the Zacatecas Cathedral, the image was seen again as Rovanpera turned out to be the monarch of the race.
Driving his Studebaker number 140, registered in the Turismo Mayor category, the former World Rally Championship shown all his capabilities behind the wheel in an extraordinary car prepared in San Miguel de Allende, in Mats Hammarlund work shop to heritage the position left by the Swedish Stig Blomqvist, champion in the 2009 ediiton. Navigated by his compatriot Jouni Narhi, Rovanpera won the absolute title winning the second, third, fourth, sixth and seven stages, covering with honors the last part of the journey covering 296.73 kilometer, from which 77.6 were timed.
“It has been seven magnificent days…. A great race. What else can I say, I´m really happy. I could live in Mexico, the people is excellent,” Harri Rovanpera said after crossing the finish line in the beautiful city of Zacatecas, that for the first time hosted the Carrera Panamericana awards ceremony.
“Was a very difficult race, very long, everything kept telling me to be careful, the pilots are fast, but everything was great, and the care behaved marvelous” said Rovanpera.
Winning the title was not easy for Rovanpera, who had to contend with the Studebaker of the Mexican Michel Jourdain that nearly always appeared in his mirror. Jourdain was a valiant competitor from beginning to the end, never giving up and even in the last speed segment he had the chance to win the title for himself. The competition among Harry and Michel was so close that during the entire race the time difference between them was only about one minute. For instance, during the second speed of today in La Congoja, still in Aguascalientes Rovanpera won for only one tenth of a second over Jourdain.
Rovanpera showed his respect for Jourdain, “He is a great pilot, he really surprised me, it was not easy to defeat him since he was fighting all the way till the end!”
During the entire race, that started last Friday in Tuxtla Gutierrez, the Mexican was following very close waiting for some mistake in the driving of the champion, mistake that simply never happened. “I’m very satisfied, but I would have liked to be champion. We had a problem with a wheel in the first speed stage that made me lose seven seconds,” explained Michel, who teamed with Miguel Díez in a Studebaker.
Rovanpera as Jourdain promised to come back next year. The Finnish, astonished by the Mexican warmth and the characteristics of the race, and the Mexican because he wants to win the race.
Jorge Pedrero conquered the third position, sharing credits with Marco Hernández in a Studebaker on the Turismo de Produccion category, achieving an outstanding results after defeating great names such as Doug Mockett, Bill Beilharz, Pierre de Thoisy, Carlos Anaya and Gabriel Pérez.
This was how the great competition ended, where the final results had to wait until the last meters, and with about 90 cars of 120 that began the race were able to reach the promised land.
La Carrera Panamericana 2010 – Photo Gallery (click image for larger picture and description)