I cannot imagine how everyone involved in preparing the Barcelona X-Games rallycross event must feel this evening, after persistent rain turned their quickly put together track into a slippy-slidey mess, not fit for the competition. There were fans, waiting patiently on the grandstands for the motorsport part of the X-Games to begin and rallycross beasts to start roaring. But, it did not happen.
In Brazil, organizers had huge problems containing the dust, and in Barcelona the second worst thing happened – rain! Now, if you’re like any other rally and/or rallycross regular fan, you might remember these events being run in all sorts of conditions, but X-Games rallycross races are set on specific type of surface, using specific type of tyres. More precisely, the surface is clay, and the tyres are tarmac specced, more or less. Combine the two, and sprinkle some rain on it, and you end up with a straight going cars (once they manage to find some grip to actually start moving even in straight line), with almost no cornering abilities.
Fans waited for hours to see the drivers in action. People around the world, blessed with access to one and only channel, carrying live pictures from X-Games, also waited patiently. Yet, the rain denied them all the chance to see usual X-Games regulars mix it up with the all-time legends, such as Carlos Sainz. Speaking of live TV – fine, ESPN is broadcasting it, but hey, isn’t that rather limiting towards the fans, not able to access this particular channel? I mean, this thing calls itself “Global”, perhaps some other forms of broadcasting could be offered. But, not many good things are free – if you want to watch FIA European Rally Championship live, and you don’t have access to Eurosport on your TV, you’re out of luck too – either throw your wallet at the screen and pay for online player, or try and find pirated stream and enjoy 1997 picture quality. Just to compare.
But, what kind of rallycross is this, to allow for some rain to cancel it? It’s called “put many extreme sports in one basket and deliver them in very compressed format, with back to back competitions”. Leaving barely enough time to put together a track. The fact that they use clay for artificial tracks, such as this, makes little difference – as soon as you have rain on any kind of loose surface, and try to race on it using tarmac tyres, you’re, in most cases, in trouble.
But, why only use tyres which are not capable of delivering power to anything but dry dusty dirt or clay? Again, I do suppose this is all about the money, and the way the cars are built and set up. To have 500+ HP cars and expect them to deliver majority of that power to wet dirt, you need serious tyres. And that will increase the costs.
Should these particular races consider rain as a possibility for future events? Well, they would be pretty silly not to. In fact, they should probably start thinking about it right away, because expensive flops such as this one in Barcelona are, well, expensive, and do very little in terms of popularization of the series.
It’s not like rain is so rare on this planet, that it should not be seriously considered, especially in spring in Europe. Either way you turn it, X-Games rallycross event failed badly today, and it ended up being quite expensive for everyone involved. To make it a (bit) more expensive and work on enabling future races to cope with rain, or to risk another similar incident? Solution is obvious, but knowing it, and making it happen are two different shoes. Time (and series’ sponsors) will tell. But to have issues both in dry and wet conditions is calling for some thinking and quite possibly changes.
Finally, perhaps organizers should have let them race, whatever happens. At least make a muddy pile of cars in first corner, or do some funny spins out for the fans? Pointless and (again) expensive, maybe, but at least something for the fans?