Saturday, August 6, 2011


I have to admit I am rather interested in the turn that WRC is taking.  Among other things, it seems the FIA is putting in motion quite an amount of new ideas.  I am particularly interested in the shakedown qualifying aspect.  When I first heard about that, I was wondering if this would turn into a "making as many runs as possible" frenzy where the sprint drivers would come out on top every time after, say, having 15 goes at it...  Or would it respect the rallying mentality of doing 2 recce passes and then flat out commitment on notes, with the first attempt counting as the qualifying time.  It seems the latest talk is about the third run or best out of three runs counting as the qualifying time.  So who knows...

I don't know if it will ever be possible to get over this tactics business.

Back when I still drove, the first 10 or 15 cars were reversed.  The best guys had a clean road, they were happy.  The privateers and slower factory cars were not, of course.  Rallies were usually won by a Frenchman on saturday evening, with over a minute lead.  Sunday was usually a walk in the park for him.  At least today there is almost always a heavy fight up until the end.

So all in all this whole thing about running order and tactics seems to me like a never ending spiral. 

I was wondering about one thing.  Keep in mind  the idea I am about to propose maybe totally ridiculous, but as this is my personal blog...   

Has anyone talked about ballasting the top cars yet, say, with something similar to the system in place in WTCC?

Here is my take on the matter:

When I look at the big picture, it seems that no matter what has been done to regulate the running order, cleaning, etc. over the past years has not had the results hoped for.  There is always a loser of some kind, somebody who is disadvantaged.  It is unfortunate that the majority of interviewed drivers I see on TV are systematically talking about their running position, how much they lose, gain, etc.  I keep hearing the same things over again and there seems to be a lot of complaints about tactics being employed.

Compared to 10 years ago, today's cars are very close to each other in terms of performance.  Everybody has the same tires, similar gearboxes, shocks, differentials.  Rallies are shorter, etc.  What has happened over the years is: we have seen gaps get smaller and smaller to such an extent that road conditions has become "the" thing to talk about.  10 years ago, if Mäkinen lost 1 minute opening the road on the first day, he knew he could gain it all back the next day with, for example, a bold tire choice, or perhaps because his car was better on some upcoming rough roads... Nowadays, everything is so controlled and perfected that these sorts of differences seldom occur.  Differences are therefore left to be made with road sweeping.

The fact is that, in rally, road conditions change car after car and obviously someone will always have an issue with it.  I don't think you can control that, no matter what you try. 

What you can control, on the other hand, is car performance.  Perhaps this is something to think about.

I would be really interested to know what you guys think about this!  I am looking forward to discussing this further, or any other ideas about this subject!  Pandora's box is now open.


  1. Hmmm. I have always thought of road position as a problem before. But I might have changed my mind after Rally Finland 2011. Seb was sweeping the roads but still won! Of course. On other rallies the road position might have more or less influence. 10 cm of snow in Sweden or Wales might be harder to tackle as front runner.


  2. I don't remember Finland as being a major road sweeping event. This year some stages were quite bad but the Citroën's superiority compensated easily for whatever disadvantage they might have had opening the road. In this particular rally, a qualification system would have possibly made it even more difficult for the others to keep up with Citroën.

  3. I dislike everything that makes an undercut of a slower man possible due to the circumstance that he is in fact, behind. Because, simply put, the final winner, either of a single event or a season, will then be the person who gets the last turn at being advantaged. Some of that is seen in today's wrc, when people choose between running first or chasing from 10-15 seconds from behind. Although that can be interesting, sorry, not my cup of tea. While circuit racing can justify reverse grids, push to pass buttons and drs zones, even there the weight thing is kind of iffy.
    I'm all for equal terms. Have 10 road sweeper cars, and then put the championship rivals out. Works in power stages, doesn't it?

    Also, while a weight penalty or a drs zone can make for closer(not better, only fictionally closer)racing instantly, it is not the solution for a far bigger problem, and that comes down to money.
    How does Citroen rule the WRC world for 10 years? Because they are the only factory team in the business. Let's not confuse Malcolm Wilson's private enterprise with some factory support with a fully fledged factory team. While Citroen spares no cost in making their wrc commercial for selling road cars, M-Sport can simply not keep up the financial chase, and in a sense, why would Malcolm jeopardize his fortune? As you Anthony explained many times, he's a ruthless businesman. It's millions he's interested in, if the victory is not financially viable, screw it, right?
    And it's not that it's too expensive. Too little money is coming in, that's the real problem! That's why Subaru, Suzuki and the others have pulled out. Hell, even PSA couldn't afford having both Pug and Citroen in there. Who would pay for a commercial in a sport that airs at night on pay per view and low rating channels, hours away from the real event happening?
    So what they need to do is bring the sport back to its roots while exploring new technologies and ways to broadcast and show-biz the WRC, in order to entertain both the casual viewer and the hardcore fan, and thus increase team profits.
    Then teams will start pouring in. Spending money. Signing talent, instead of sponsorship carriers. Have 5 rich teams in the sport and make any rules you want, it'll still be close.

    IRC sure got that message.
    Will WRC, ever?

    Sorry for the superlong post everybody.

  4. I love super long posts

    good points there. maybe the simple solution to all this would be to somehow restrict all split info from being sent to crews.

  5. It would be cool to have it, it's in many race competitions involved now! So maybe test it? Although I think there will be some people against it. It's good for now that the two Sebs may battle most of the time with eachother like in the WTCC Chevrolet allows their 3 drivers to battle with eachother so Huff can't cruise easily to the title! :-)

    Btw the most World Championships have like one dominant manufacture. F1, WRC, WTCC. But like Fia GT3 European Championship and Blancpain Endurance Series are very open exciting championships with also a good balance between Pro's, Rookie's and Gentleman drivers with the combination of badges for the level of a driver.

  6. for me the problem is the length of the rallies. if you lose a minute is not possible to recover because there are not enough sections. for example Germany this year had 19 stages in 3 days, in my opinion are very few and becomes a sprint race.

    sorry my English

  7. Jean Todt, the FIA president, has made it clear in an interview during Barum Rally in Zlin just some days ago that he wants more endurance in the future of WRC. Considering that Mr Todt usually does not speak out unless he means business I think it's safe we will see the WRC take a more "adventurous" direction in the future. Back to what you were saying, Andreu, this may help.

  8. Loeb would probably require a trailer behind his car to carry his ballast allocation.
    I don't think the real world application of ballast for wrc is a good idea, nice in theory. Ballast would likely change the dynamics in a crash which is not so nice when out in a stage away from rescue services.
    Times of success for leading teams are finite and other teams rise to challenge them.