Time’s up, timekeepers! It’s now time to answer some questions about time and timing, because for six months now, and that’s a lot of time, we were exposed to sub par service, missing stage times, very iffy split times, sometimes no times.
Whenever Autosport features a WRC labeled story, and previous/next WRC event is at least one week away, I brace myself. In the past, such stories revealed some of the most iconic pieces of WRC entertainment. Today, Autosport added one more iconic piece to their budding collection. The topic is, as you can guess, the poor quality of timing and tracking services in the World Rally Championship. Surely you remember how FIA ditched previous timing providers, Stage One Technology last November, without any explaination, and decided to hire SIT (Sistemas Integrales de Telecomunicacion). We were treated to some big promises, surely a company with a fleet of airplanes would raise the timing and tracking to another level! Start in Monte Carlo was bad, because bad weather and because yeah. The season went on, yet the problems remained, sometimes big sometimes small, but there were constantly some issues surrounding the T&T in WRC.
Poor service was greeted by complaints from media, teams and drivers, but it always somehow managed to duck down fast enough, and avoid the more detailed public radar screening. We exchanged few angry tweets, concluded that the service is poor and yelled for some improvements, and that was it. But then, shit got real. Cars went through stages without a trace on a tracking screen. Cars even crashed out of the rally, and nobody knew. Because, no splits and no tracking dots. With fastest and arguably the most dangerous WRC event in Finland just around the corner, the FIA machinery was put in motion and, lo and behold, there was a meeting!
On that meeting, FIA decided to launch an investigation. Because, as the rally director Jarmo Mahonen said, six months is a nice number, sort of splits the year in half and what better occassion to launch an investigation into why timing and tracking is so poor. Now, if you think this is funny, it’s not – it’s just a warm up, a shakedown stage for the real thriller. Because what SIT offered as an excuse, or an explaination (because they are not comfortable with excuses) exceeds your wildest imagination.
Did you know FIA and the new promoter decided to hire SIT “in November”, giving them (SIT) “one month and a half to get everything ready”? Notice how your ears suddenly got warmer? Did you also think FIA and Red Bull Media House were extremely careful and picky about the new timing provider, and they were looking for the technology and the people who are ready-set-go to deliver the top notch service right away? You silly, silly person. Instead, FIA was rude and very inconsiderate, giving them (SIT) only month and a half to get everything ready. Get what ready? You fucking bragged about the fleet of aircrafts, what exactly is not ready?
Did you also know that the new timing providers were told how split times are not so important? Oh, I bet your palms are sweating now! So, now SIT is actually insulted because all of a sudden everyone and their grandmother is talking about the bloody splits. Fine, said the SIT, we’ll give you splits. You’ll be happy to hear they’re currently delivering times more and more accurately with each new event. All tingly around your belly yet?
We also learned about the real issues, and that’s uneducated marshals, not really up to speed with the 23rd century tech SIT uses. “Capt Picard might be able to understand it”, said SIT official. Plus, you also need a pilot’s licence to operate SIT timing equipment. Because fleet of airplanes.
With the approval of the United Nations and the NSA, SIT will conduct real-time testing, and presumably, we should be able to get results sooner than you say “powestage shootout is da best thing evar”.
Guys, they’re all fucking with us, I seriously believe. If FIA and their partners decided to hire a company who only asked for a red bull sixpack in return, why the surprise if the service is poor? Or did someone put a little something aside for a rainy day? Six months of horrific treatment of everyone involved in running of the sport, and you’re now launching an investigation? Who are you kidding? They will all be high on vacations before anything of this investigation even takes shape.
Finally, what does it take for some people to pull their you know whats from you know where and start raising voices? Do we need serious shit to happen, do we need avoidable fatalities or other tragic events, made worse by timing woes? Stop being incompetent, for once! Admit a fuck up, and make up for it. You know, while there’s still TIME.
Original article featuring statements by both FIA and SIT can be found on Autosport.