Thoughts are emerging as M-Sport prepares its case for an appeal against the arbitrary 10 second penalty imposed on Sebastien Ogier at Rally Mexico.
The penalty was calculated to deny him the four supplemental points he had earned by making second fastest time on the Power Stage.
A source within the WRC community has said the appeal is: “a very commendable move. If that penalty holds, it will change for good the idea that drivers are allowed make mistakes.
"It may have been obvious that he wanted to gain an advantage, but looking from the outside, it could have just as well have been a genuine accident. Can you get a penalty for a having an accident?”.
Ogier was second fastest in the Power Stage before stewards issued a 10 second penalty at Rally Mexico. Photos: Martin Holmes
Coupled with this is general dissatisfaction using chicanes with movable ‘elements’, as drivers will not all follow the same lines when the position of the obstacles is shifted.
There is an inherent danger to ask marshals to replace a shifted obstacle to its original position while a stage is live.
The accident to Juho Hanninen at Wales Rally GB showed the dangers of hitting a straw bale which had encroached on to the racing line.
The Neste Rally Finland was criticised for installing an immovable element – a Valtra tractor – which no driver impacted.
In the Mexico case, there was extra dissatisfaction that a penalty was only applied against one driver, not every driver who touched an obstacle.
The change to Ogier’s time was not an equitable penalty imposed to correct an injustice which is the remit of the Stewards, but to damage Ogier’s championship chances, which should be the responsibility of higher sporting authorities.
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