Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Chapter 9: Power to the People

An interesting comment by "rally driver" from the blog comments section lately: 

"Also, in the last sector of the Jordan power stage the works cars gained around 12 seconds on the customer cars in the last sector, which was a minute or so long, BUT it was compiled of a bunch of full throttle sections. Add a new engine formula for this year. Henning Solberg did not seem at all surprised. Coincidence? "

I haven't followed that last stage so I can't really comment on that specifically but from my personal experience I can say that I would not be surprised at all.  Back in Mexico 2005 I was quickest Ford on shakedown, and then I put some competitive speed on the first loop of stages, compared to the official Fords.  A little too competitive I think because first, during service I got lectured by the business manager for about a half an hour about how I had to take it easy, wait for my turn and god knows what else, I can't remember, but I remember one thing: from that point afterwards I was 1 sec/km behind the leading Ford guy all the way until Japan.  

Japan was very interesting in itself because I suddenly had a rocket tied to my arse.  The car went like hell.  It was such a difference I had to rethink all my braking points on shakedown.  This was the first rally in a long while where I could challenge the best Ford again....

Funny, isn't it?  Especially since the usual engine laptop guy was gone...  No sign of him over there.  I know cause back in service there was this dude plugged in my car ECU and I had never seen him before so I asked: "hey, who are you and what are you doing in my car?" (In a polite way, of course)  He said he was the engine guy for the rally.... Oh, ok.  Turns out the car had never been so fast.  

Coincidence?  Maybe. 

So the guy was new and unaware that I should have a "different" engine map?  

I don't know, impossible to prove.  All I know is the car was fast like hell and I liked it.  

My deal for 2005 specifically mentioned I would have the factory car engine from Mexico onwards.  But how in heaven's name do you want to check if your engine map is the same as others?  Send a bailiff to seize ECU's and check them?  

In my opinion it can only be a trust issue.  I trusted them. 

So, I don’t know what is happening to others.  I can only imagine…

Bottom line is I think all WRC drivers should have equal machinery, within their respective teams.  Let the drivers make the difference.  Seems to me that if you hire a driver because you think he is the best for the job, why be afraid of others?  On the contrary, it would only re-enforce his position as a factory driver.   The sport would be subsequently much more interesting.   


  1. I think if you want more competitive cars you need to go to the more budget-friendly cups ! Because there you have less evolutions and there is not a lot allowed. Off course there are differences but not that big and everybody is watching over each others shoulder...

    But as you mentioned, it's a real shame they let it go so far. It's destroying the sport, not only for the pilots but also for the spectators and the people that are working around you.

    Keep up the nice articles !
    Very interesting ;-)

    Kind regards,
    student and rallymechanic

  2. FIA rules need to freshen up as well. The third car rule was quite good, with the best two cars scoring for manu points. The manus argued it costs too much but then again they weren't opposed to having 16 rallies at one point...

  3. Hmm FIA I don't have a lot experience yet with all those rules and changes but what I figured out really quickly was there's too much politic around a bit like in my country (Belgium), they forget the purpose of there job... It's not about the sport anymore. It's a big company that's making money.

    Could you explain why the third car rule was a good rule? I don't see the link with making the sport better :-/

  4. The third car was good because manus were obliged to hire other drivers, sometimes local specialists, to be as competitive as possible. for example Liatti in the Sub or Panizzi in the Peug... It gave others a chance to prove themselves with works machinery. Nowadays seats are locked up for years. Factory drivers are usually untouchable, sitting on very high position. I can easily see the 2 Finns staying at Ford for years, for example, with no one ever getting a chance in equal works machinery to challenge them.

  5. ow yes now I get it. That's why Duval was allowed in Germany as a tarmacspecialist. I think the year before he almost beaten Loeb with an older spec car of Citroen...
    Thank you for the explanation Mr. Warmbold !

  6. You can call me Antony if you want. No formalities around here...

  7. When 2011 WRC season started in Sweden this year a bunch of companies (including mine) helped PG Andersson to rent a Fiesta. Now when the regulations was changed and the WRC teams did not have the same ability to change stuff and give privateers different stuff than the works cars we all felt that this could be a big chance to upset the big works tema drivers.

    Antony, do you think PG and Mads Ostberg was given the "exact" same cars as Mikko and Jari-Matti ? Or maybe I should ask, what big differeces were there?