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