“Bogey lesson has to be learned”
Last weekend I headed up the M6 on a pilgrimage to a rally I’d never attended but had always looked on with a watchful eye. The Pirelli. Carlisle. Kielder. Having done the recce on Friday, my excitement was through the roof. The stages were of the high quality expected from everything I’d read and viewed about one of Europe’s biggest man-made forests. And they were fast. So fast.
In fact, were they too fast? A couple of conversations with drivers on the recce started the alarm bells ringing. “We’re going to have trouble with the bogey here,” claimed one driver. Others agreed on the speed involved even before jumping in competition cars.
The bogey was obliterated in SS4 by Evans, who went just under half a minute quicker. The bogey is, in case you haven’t read, a notional average time awarded to a driver if he or she completes the stage with an average speed of over 70mph on a gravel stage.
The bogey. Is it a safety feature? Yes and no. Did being given a piece of paper showing a notional time make Elfyn Evans slower through that stage? Clearly not. Should the threat of a bogey time encourage organisers to keep the route under 70mph to keep the cars from going too fast? Yes.
The bogey has been a part of rallying for as long as anyone can remember. Is it outdated? Should it be lifted, do we want organisers creating stages where cars can average 90mph for example? I’d have to say no. While we all want to see high speeds, there’s a ceiling to be reached where car and driver simply shouldn’t be going that fast, not just for the safety of the drivers but for the safety of stage crews and spectators too. If speeds rise, so do the chances of accidents.
I agree with Elfyn Evans ( page 20) in that this shouldn’t happen again, but how do we do that? It’s tough without putting an R5 with the Welshman at the wheel through the stages before the event to know exactly. However, rough calculations can be done to work out how fast the cars should be going, using places like Finland as an example.
What we saw last weekend was a wake-up call that the cars and drivers are quicker than ever. Which is why it was so frustrating that the outcome of the rally was ruined by the bogey times. We’re seeing a championship in its first year producing some of the fastest and most exceptional performances anywhere in the world. Lets not ruin that by allowing bogeys to take over.
Organisers take heed. The cars are fast, and routes need to be matched accordingly. Forcing organisers to make its events International level is an option for the BRC – who were utterly helpless in Carlisle, but that would only give them around a 5mph increase in the average with the bogey rule a grey area on international events. Is that a complete and total answer? No. But on a separate note, the BRC is big and important enough that the events should be international anyway.