WRC drivers call for running order shake-up
- 6th April 2010, 9:02am
Both the Citroen and Ford teams employed tactics throughout the three-day gravel event in the Middle East to try to give their drivers the edge on the third round of the World Rally Championship.
The endless jostling culminated in Citroen instructing its Junior Team driver Sebastien Ogier to check in early for Saturday’s opening stage in order to run first on the road and clean the morning stages of the loose surface gravel for Sebastien Loeb, who should have tackled the stages first due to the fact he was leading overnight.
Loeb, who started the final day with a lead of 24.6 seconds, went on to win three of the four stages on the morning loop to secure his 56th victory at world championship level by more than half a minute.
Speaking afterwards, Loeb said: “We need to find a solution because we speak too much about the tactics. I know they are part of the game but they are becoming too important and that is not right.”
Ford ordered Mikko Hirvonen - out of the frame for victory following his crash on day two - to arrive at the start of Saturday’s opening stage before team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala, in an effort to boost Latvala’s chances of overhauling Loeb for victory. Latvala, who finished second, conceded he didn’t ultimately have the pace to beat Loeb but added that the use of tactics had effectively ended his hopes of recording his first win of the season.
“The tactical decisions this morning changed the course of the day,” said Latvala. “The difference between first and second in the order is huge in terms of road cleaning, while second and third or fourth is only marginal. We have to do something because it is confusing the public and that is not good.”
Olivier Quesnel, the boss of the Citroen team, argued the use of tactics was “not rallying”, while his counterpart at Ford, Malcolm Wilson, said their use had kept alive the battle for first place until the final morning of the event.
“We could go back to the old system [of reversing the top 15] but then you’d know who was going to win the rally at the end of the first day and that’s no good either,” said Wilson.
Some of the alternatives to the current system of running in rally order being discussed in Jordan included drawing lots to determine starting positions, letting the leading drivers choose themselves and basing the order on times recorded during the pre-event shakedown.
Full reports, videos, photos and more on www.wrc.com
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