“We won’t get a se­cond chance at safety”

Motor Sport News - - Rally News - GROUP RAL­LY­ING EDI­TOR DAVID EVANS

How are you cop­ing post-monte? Must ad­mit my pro­duc­tiv­ity has been on some­thing of a down­ward spiral as more and more con­tent gets loaded onto Youtube fol­low­ing round one. And it’s im­pos­si­ble not to watch for two rea­sons. The first is the new cars; one round in, the 2017 World Rally Car re­ally is ev­ery­thing we hoped for. It looks dra­matic, sounds sen­sa­tional and has more grunt than grip.

I re­mem­ber when the re­stric­tor size was cut from 38mm to 34mm ahead of the 1995 sea­son and power out­put was slashed from close to 400 way back to 300bhp. Colin Mcrae was ap­palled. “I mean,” he said, “you can’t slide these things on slicks on dry Tar­mac…”

The Scot’s tone was one of dis­ap­point­ment and dis­gust. And any­body who’d been lucky enough to see Mcrae drift­ing a full-bore Legacy RS around the French is­land (there’s an­other af­ter­noon lost to Youtube…) could see his point.

These cars are do­ing that again, watch­ing them move around in slower-speed cor­ners on soft rub­ber was fan­tas­tic. It was like our he­roes had re­gained their voice. No longer is it all about the te­dium of rolling off the brake into the apex, once more there’s a (semi-) con­vinc­ing ar­gu­ment for car­ry­ing more angle and en­try speed. I like that.

The other rea­son I couldn’t stop watch­ing was be­cause of the sheer stu­pid­ity of where some folk were stand­ing to watch the sea­son opener. What’s wrong with these peo­ple?

The Fri­day footage was be­ing shot af­ter these fans had wo­ken to the news that a spec­ta­tor had been killed stand­ing on the out­side of an icy bend the night be­fore. Yet still, some of them chose to take their place road­side with seem­ingly zero con­sid­er­a­tion for what might hap­pen. One par­tic­u­larly in­sane clip showed the cars go­ing light over a bump in a flat-left taken with ev­ery car on the lim­iter in sixth. The con­se­quences of any kind of fail­ure at that speed sim­ply don’t bear think­ing about. But we’re talk­ing in terms of 1955 Le Mans-style car­nage. It was that bad.

Talk­ing to the driv­ers af­ter round one, the feel­ing of un­ease at the sit­u­a­tion is build­ing quicker than ever. Un­der­stand­ably so. Some­thing has to be done.

And it can be. Por­tu­gal and Ar­gentina are the shin­ing bea­cons of what can be achieved with a mix of car­rot and stick. And if any or­gan­iser can’t reach those stan­dards – re­gard­less of whether they are the Au­to­mo­bile Club de Monaco or the Pol­ish Au­to­mo­bile and Mo­tor­cy­cle As­so­ci­a­tion (I take Poland as an ex­am­ple be­cause that’s the event the driv­ers have most con­cerns about) – they should be kicked off of the cal­en­dar.

We’re at the point now where we’re not go­ing to get a se­cond chance with this.

To end on a brighter note, con­grat­u­la­tions to Rally Mex­ico for, once again, demon­strat­ing the cut­ting edge of in­no­va­tion in the World Rally Championship in tak­ing us to Mex­ico City.

Rally cars in Sydney at the end of the sea­son then? Chance would be a fine thing.

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