China is go after event briefing
“Current running order rules aren’t fair”
Representatives from all sides of the World Rally Championship attended a China Rally briefing in Beijing last week.
The delegation included team personnel as well as members of the FIA and WRC Promoter. A tour of the stages along with a first look at the service park were on the agenda in an effort to deflect growing disquiet about the lack of information about the September event.
WRC Promoter Oliver Ciesla was in Beijing earlier this year and says he is now happy with progress.
“There is no need for any more speculation about China,” said Ciesla. “We have been there just before going to Argentina and we can confirm everything is in place. Its true there was a real lack of communication, but we have received the first draft of the itinerary, we identified a location for the service park and most promotional activities are in place. We are very confident in China.”
The all-asphalt route for Rally China is with the FIA and, MN understands, conforms with the governing body’s specific requirements without the need for a waiver.
An event website is now up and running (rally-china. com) confirming ‘around’ 15 stages at an average altitude of 500 metres in the Huairou District. Rally HQ will be located at Yanqi Lake, around 40 miles north of downtown Beijing.
This will be the WRC’S first return to the Far East since Rally Japan departed in 2010. It will be China’s first world championship qualifier since Didier Auriol won the nation’s one and only WRC round in 1999 in a Toyota Corolla.
I’m not going to get drawn back into the whole running order argument. Repeat.
I’m not going to get drawn back… OK, one last time. Reinforce the soapbox, I’m climbing aboard. The current regulations are not fair. Sorry, Kris Meeke, Hayden Paddon and the rest of you, but they’re not. What we have at the moment is a championship skewed towards entertainment, at the expense of pure competition.
There’s so much nonsense being spouted right now about the way forward. Stop all that, I have the solution. Draw lots. Downhill skiing is a sport that can be hugely compromised by changeable weather conditions between the first and last competitor down the mountain. In heavy snow, a skier really doesn’t want to be to close to the front, but when the sun’s up, it’s disadvantageous to be too far back when the snow’s getting softer, heavier and slower.
Downhill skiing was faced with this precise issue some time ago and the FIS – International Ski Federation – dealt with it quickly and fairly.
The top 15 ranked skiers in the world pick a number and that’s where they start their run. Simple. Couldn’t be more simple. Couldn’t be more impartial. Couldn’t be easier to explain. Couldn’t be easier to implement. Crack on. No chance. Why so? Four different winners in the last four rallies. That’s why. What we’ve got now is considered the best form of entertainment, which helps make sell-able telly.
The fact that it’s contrived, manipulated and aimed firmly at slowing Sebastien Ogier doesn’t matter one bit to the WRC promoter. And nor should it, it’s the promoter’s job to make sell-able telly. Box ticked.
It should, however, matter to the FIA, under whose sporting governance the WRC falls. Surely the FIA has a duty to take the spirit level to the playing field rather than loading it up in one direction.
It was a conversation with a vastly well informed, media-sussed and commercially savvy colleague; the sort I thought might well favour such a smoke and mirrors approach to closing the top end of our sport up.
“It’s like telling the All Blacks they’ve got to take to the field with 13 players,” he said.
He’s right. On the telly, it’s hard to spot a team two players down, but on the field the world’s best would be frustrated and, on occasion, made to look a bit silly. Sound familiar? A win against Ogier would be worth so much more if it came under more even-handed regulation. His rivals, the same ones I find it hard to believe wouldn’t share his exasperation were they in the same position, relish in pointing to the events where he will benefit from life at the front.
Thereby completely missing Ogier’s point. He doesn’t want an advantage like he doesn’t want a disadvantage. He wants parity. No more. No less.
Enough said? Think so.