DRIVERS CONFUSED OVER CANCELLED STAGE
There was frustration and confusion from the drivers after the FIA cancelled one of the World Rally Championship’s fastest ever stages in Sweden last week.
The second run of the 20-mile Knon test was canned on Saturday afternoon. M-sport driver Ott Tanak set an average speed of 85.62mph in the morning before the FIA stepped in and called a halt to the re-run of the stage.
The previous highest average speed in recent seasons was Sebastien Ogier’s 83.88mph run through Myhinpaa in Finland.
Tanak himself admitted he wasn’t sure about the cancellation, saying: “I don’t know if it’s a safety thing. The stage was just fast, very fast, but actually a little bit boring – it wasn’t a stage like Ouninpohja. It was just straight.”
There had been a question mark over the Knon stage from the moment the crews finished the recce for what was a brand new road on this year’s route.
One driver added: “I don’t understand how we can get to this point in the rally before the FIA stepped in and did something about it. The road was just straight, not dangerous, just boring. But it was like this when the FIA inspected the route.”
FIA rally director Jarmo Mahonen said the decision was taken as soon as possible.
“We agree to look at the data after the first run,” he said. “From our point of view, it was too fast.
“These cars are quicker than the old cars – but in this stage last year’s [cars] were going more than 130kph [80mph]. These kind of stages teach us one thing: we need to take a more firm grip when organisers want to introduce new stages, we have to be present to check them. If we see a stage time of more than 130kph then it’s an indicator that we need to be looking at this.”