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 wrc drivers future. by m4d-mike

15-Feb-09 08:45 AM 

I think its time ford went out into the real world and started looking for talented drivers instead of training teenagers who had 50 grand for a fiesta. i bet if they had a driver who was brave enough to throw half a million of his own money sideways through some trees then i reckon if they had a works drive it would be a different story. right now i can only see one thing happening with the wrc his year and thats another wrc for loeb and a new record number of wins in a year. if the finns cant even beat him on snow, when can they

 Re: wrc drivers future. by Chris B

15-Feb-09 02:56 PM 

You creaated the right spot for something I was to say / write:

 Re: wrc drivers future. by mof

15-Feb-09 04:38 PM 

That's a great article Chris. One would wonder why the Ford bosses don't put a stop to the embarrassing Wilson nepotism. It really is a great example of the degraded state the FIA have got the WRC into.

Seb Loeb is sometimes a little challenged, but often his skill and the car's competence mean he just runs his own race at the front. Even Ford's pathetic slow down tactics to ensure he remains road sweeper rarely work, his package is just so much better. How much longer will he continue in the series? Is there anything left for him to achieve?

 Re: wrc drivers future. by Spindle

16-Feb-09 05:45 AM 

You've hit the nail on the head there chris..

My take on it is the reliability of the current wrc cars have hit an all time high. When was the last time Citroen or Ford had a mechanical breakdown, I cant remember??

As dominant as the Quatros were in the early 80's, they would still breakdown from time to time giving an 037 the chance to shine (if they were still going)... Also there were specialist tarmac cars which were quicker on the sealed surfaces, bringing more randomness to the results on the black stuff.

Now the C4 is the best car across the board, the Ford doesn't seem to have the same grunt. Hirvonen and Latvala are top class but Loeb seems to have that extra 5% required.

I think the sprint format of events encourages domination. Surely if they were still doing 18 hour days Loeb would get tired eventually and make a mistake! The drivers know the stages inside out, running them twice a day.

I'm not anti-Loeb or Citroen, I think its amazing that the drivers seem to be on a 100% push all the time, but I dont think that is what rallying is about...

Longer events, longer stages, more stages and a return to the original endurance format. Thats what I'd like to see.

 Re: wrc drivers future. by Chris B

16-Feb-09 10:12 AM 

There is some word in here our forum software does not swallow, and I don't know what it is. So allow me to reply in several posts...

Several interesting aspects at once here.

mof - Why should Ford bosses put a stop at the Wilson nepotism. If Stobart pays up, you could see Matthew as a pay driver like Perez Companc or van Merksteijn. Nothing wrong with that, except for the rules these drivers get full attention and newcomers can show whatever sensation they want, they are ignored.

When I say in the article I have sympathies for the Wilson clan, I understand the fans' complaints also, but... OK, for one, I used to be a huge fan of Malcolm Wilson in his active days in Escorts and Sapphires. Maybe because I especially liked his onboard footage - in the days miraculously onboard cameras were pointing in direction of travel - because I myself as a driver had big problems in the first days and eventually as an all German team switched to English descrriptive pace notes, which did the trick. By pure coincidence I ended up creaating my own style of pace notes and only realised at a later date the similarity to Malcolm's pace notes was unbelievable!
For the other, I always had a soft spot for Ford, at least in the old days, and I always preferred "real" works teams, doing things by themselves, like Peugeot Sport and like Boreham. I don't know why Boreham made such a mess in the Escort Cosworth days, it was an utter joke, and when Malcolm took over the running, he put so many things right again, kudos for that too. Saying that the Wilson name did a lot for Ford and he deserves something in return, even if I don't agree that all the media turns to Matthew and other M2 teams and eventual Malcolm cusstomers as Matti Rantanen are ignored.

But that closes the circle again. It would be better maybe for Malcolm's own business if i.e. Rantanen got more attention, such more sponsorship, or also by Malcolm or by Ford more chances. However the way the rules are, it is all about paying M2 teams, no room in the works team either. If we still had 3-car teams, whoever was 3rd driver at Ford, I would not be surprised if Matti Rantanen was called up for this 3rd works car in the next Rally Finland. However as the rules are, there is no 3rd works car and in the M2 cars there are so many drivers paying millions, why should anyone play charity to Rantanen, never mind talent!

 Re: wrc drivers future. by Chris B

16-Feb-09 10:13 AM 

More mof, also said by m4d-mike in the original post - I could actually have pointed this out much stronger in the article. The fact that Finnish drivers in works Fords were not able to beat Loeb in Norway must be a big blow for the whole 2009 championship in Fords view!

This does show nicely the state of the situation at this moment. Wheere shall the next talent to challenge Loeb come . This sounds negative on Hirvonen and Latvala. Sorry for that. But I really do wonder is the gap between the 2 classes in WRC - aka Loeb and the rest - really that big.

I also dont want to take anything away Loeb, as in he has these records for he has no competition. But somehow this is the case, as in the examples with Mikkola, Röhrl, etc.. I believe Mikkola, Röhrl, were in their days no worse than Loeb is now, but they had massive competition. If Mikkola was winning 10 rallies per season against Röhrl, Waldegaard, Alen, Toivonen, you would have launched a frraud investigation!!!! Even if Mikkola was the only driver in a Quattro. I really do believe commbine the championships, put all IRC drivers the WRC, Loeb would still win, but there suddenly would be 10 drivers attacking Loeb the way, if not harder, than only Hirvonen can do at the moment! Unfortunately for the nominations and 2-car teams and M2 teams, I dont think the IRC drivers would get the same material as Loeb. So better even kill the WRC and put Loeb the IRC, and Loeb would still win, but not 10 rounds in a season!

Point for the 2009 season is really Norway as a shocker. For me the key situation in Rally Norway was on the morning of the last day. So Loeb led, just. Last day kicked off with SS18 over 30km and Hirvonen took 5.3sec out of Loeb. For a moment it looked like Hirvonen was in with a chance. But in SS19 Loeb replied in taking 6.1sec back again! To make matters worse, SS19 was only 13km! Thats half a sec per km moments after Hirvonen fought tooth and nail for 5sec on the longest stage! What a gigantic slap in the face! If nowheere else, at least here I started to feel that the Ford Finns on THEIR surface were attacking throughout the rally, and Loeb was just cruising, having a laugh and playing with them!

 Re: wrc drivers future. by Chris B

16-Feb-09 10:14 AM 

to Spindle - Great post!

The reliability is an aspect I must admit I forgot in my article.

The statistics I make and based the article on do have hick ups anyway. The career points are difficult to compare because change of points systems. I also have a function as finishing rate, trying to identify if a driver is crash prone or not. This of course doesn't work that well either, for the cars are more reliable, the rallies shorter, plus we invented souprally. You see some hints as Colin McRae 59 percent finishing ratio, Séb Loeb 87 percent. But i.e. old days Röhrl 55 percent, compared to modern days with souprally Conrad Rautenbach at 67 percent, Matthew Wilson even 92 percent. Rautenbach less crash prone and more car caring than Röhrl?. I don't buy that!

 Re: wrc drivers future. by Chris B

16-Feb-09 10:22 AM 

Especially the longer events is something I am dearly missing. I outed myself as someone hating the rough rallies. Maybe it is the combinaation with sprint events.

 Re: wrc drivers future. by Chris B

16-Feb-09 10:24 AM 

I used to look forward to the Acropolis. But today there are too many events like the Acropolis and going flat out sprint style over them - despite souprally, which does not give you any chance to catch up on such short days anyway - for me these events have too much of a lottery aspect. You puncture, you can go home.

 Re: wrc drivers future. by Chris B

16-Feb-09 10:25 AM 

At the same time I am a decllared fan of African rallies. If on the Safari you got stuck on the first stage and were down in 50th place, half an hour off the lead, your rally was far from finished, it just made things more interesting! Even though for me first of all rallying should be about the fastest driver in the fastest car, and even though I hate Ford's end of leg tactical games which just seem dirty, tactical driving and strategy is a majorly important aspect of rallying!

 Re: wrc drivers future. by Chris B

16-Feb-09 10:26 AM 

Aha, combinaation and decllared were the bad words, OK, back to text.

It is not only about how the RWD asphalt racers Lancia Rally 037 beat the heavy, more complicated Audi Quattros in Acropolis 1983. Take the RAC, when it was a 7-8 hours winners time affair. They often started with shorter, smoother forest stages after the parks. Here we saw first favourites. Then some time mid rally came the long, rough Kielder Forest compplex, of course all in darkness. Some drivers were going carefully to not get too tired themselves and attack the smooth, beautiful Lake District and Welsh stages with a fresh, fast car, others were going exactly crazy in Kielder, because if they should survive that, they will have an easy rally for the rest.

I miss these aspects today. And I do believe TV audience will understand this, apart from remembering the unique sceneries. I do believe IRC Rallye Monte Carlo live on TV was such a huge hit with many, because even non-rally-freaks TV audience has understood the tyre gambles on SS3, with the first 2-3rd dry asphalt, the last 3rd snow uphill.

I do believe modern rally cars are at an all time high for reliability. And maybe something is missing already here. Even though I like Loeb, I would love to see him mastering an odd situation hampered by an ill working car. With the sprint rallies as they are, all rallies looking the same, clover leaf service, maybe another aspect is missing. Attention to detail and good preparation is not so important any more. During Rally Norway I was discussing with friends how PSA teams went through the African and Des O'Dell Talbot school. Des O'Dell taking the blame when Tony Pond crashed for a misted windscreen, promising it would never happen again. And guess what, it never happened again for 30 years! In Ireland we saw Urma Aava demisting windscreens with a sock on a wooden stick, in Norway the Subaru drivers complained about misted windscreens. Somehow we have never heard, nor could imagine Loeb fighting with a misted windscreen on his Citroen! I just wonder, this is really old school stuff that was so important on the old, long rallies and seems so much less important today, or is exactly that what gives Loeb the tiny but all important advantage today?

Besides, already a while back I promised an article on the compact rallies and clover leaf today, that this is not all compact, we could have much more excitement and uniqueness today with only a few little adjustments. Will deliver soon...

 Re: wrc drivers future. by Gregor

16-Feb-09 11:33 AM 

Ive often thought, maybe mentioned, that Loeb is a great driver but is also tempered by the sprint nature of modern events. Of course he seems to do well on the odd long stage when they happen. Darkness and allowing less time for sleep would also be interesting. I do at least a half dozen 12-15 hour stints behind the wheel each year and your mood can change a lot, never mind being in competition with other drivers on narrow roads! Also as you mention the reliability of the car having to run long stages would be interesting. As the drivers temperament and training changes to match a sprint format so do decisions in a car’s design.

M2 probably pays for a lot of Fords factory effort, or at least tangentially helps with service, parts, and development. I can see its use to teams and to people who have or can get money who want to drive. Chris Atkinson isnt going to have a way compete without M2, for example. It’s a necessary evil to pay for the price of the WRC these days.

Matt Wilsons entry to rally seems no different than the start of other drivers supported by family. Henri Toivonen, Colin McRae and Anton Alen all have had a definite leg up in the sport their fathers. The big difference for Matt is results the others were quick to shine in their own right. So nepotism isnt quite the problem as much as the lack of results. And that problem is shared by the majority of M2 drivers.

Of course for every Colin McRae there are a dozen Richard Burnses, François Delecours, and even Sebastian Loebs who would struggle to get the WRC today even with a good record of wins at other levels. I suppose thats another reason to follow IRC at the moment and hope more jilted WRC drivers find a home there.

 Re: wrc drivers future. by Spindle

16-Feb-09 02:27 PM 

Don't get me started on super rally! Monte Carlo a couple of years back when Loeb crashed, rejoined in super rally then finished 2nd, ahead of drivers who had completed the whole event!! No problem with SR for test purposes, but once SR'd you shouldn't feature in the results, let alone score points!

Chris your RAC analogy is exactly what I was trying to say (in less words!).

If rallying was athletics, today it would be the 100 sprint.
Warm up, sprint, rest, eat, sleep?, warm up, sprint..

Why cant it be the 5,000 metre steeplechase like it used to be? Deciding if/when to push... Is attacking worth the risk of running out of energy later on? Do you dare wait to attack later when others are burning out??

Another thing, the IRC had it spot on at the Monte with the tyre choice lottery.
I was in Hafren last year on the RAC and it was an absolute shocker to cancel the stage. Conditions were terrible but we're talking about the best drivers in the world, surely they should be able to adapt to the conditions in front of them? It was a perfect opportunity to run the stage, see if anyone had the mettle to have a go? Risk all for a 30-45 second advantage..

I'll always remember Vatanen on the 85 Monte. 5 mins in the lead, 10 minute penalty, 5 mins behind. Then goes on an almighty attack to take all the time back again and win. Thats what rallyings about

 Re: wrc drivers future. by AndyRAC

16-Feb-09 03:38 PM 

Some excellent posts and points raised. Agree with you all.
In trying to make the WRC 'sexy' for TV/Media -they've completely ruined the spectacle and endurance side of the sport. If they wish to regain it's popularity - this aspect needs to come back. Because every event is virtually the same - an idea from F1 - It is just boring.
Let's have some variety - short 2 day events with many stages,i;e a short, sharp shock. 3 day events similar to modern events. 4-5 day 'classic' events. Surely much more interesting....

 Re: wrc drivers future. by Spindle

17-Feb-09 03:33 AM 

Right, lets start a petition!

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