Power stages, power stages everywhere!
As the popular saying go, you’re not supposed to… do things with the crazy. It doesn’t say anything about being a little (or a little more) crazy yourself, so that’s a loophole I plan to exploit right now. Crazy is everywhere, crazy is cool and it also sells like hell, so crazy is the new norm I guess. But why all the crazy? Because rally, is why.
So many poor unsuspecting pixels were forced to align themselves and form letters and sentences and paragraphs and articles about how utterly crazy some ideas regarding future of our beloved WRC were. We got used to crazy, but some ideas just challenged that, introducing a whole new level of insanity. Or creativity, if that’s how you like to enjoy your coffee. My pet hate was (I KNOW I SAID IT ALREADY, OKAY!) the infamous super-important event-deciding ultimate-full-contact uberpowerstage shoot out idea. You know about it, so I won’t drag it out in the open again. Now, if we assume that crazy is the new “yeah sure, why not” a whole new world opens up before our eyes. In this world, everything is possible, anything can happen and crazy is the way of thinking. So, let me share a crazy thing I just squeezed out of my “living the Aussie hours in CEST time zone” sleep deprived mind.
You know how power stage is that thing they run at the end of each event, it awards some extra points and is actually very interesting to the promoter as a potential thing to sell to TV companies. We’ve heard loads of ideas about it; from “kill it” to “keep as is” to “split it from the overall event”, and many more. In its current format power stage is a tricky thing – you can push a little bit more if you’re interested in those extra points, but at the same time you’re risking losing the position and points from the overall event. How do you improve this concept? Maybe by making it even more trickier!
For example, WRC could decide that final stages of every day of the event are power stages, so the first three (or five in case our grid expands significantly) places on final stage of every day award extra points. Hey, but that might also negate any idea about slowing down on gravel stages in order to fix the starting position for next day, which was a huge disgrace WRC tolerated too long and too often in the past.
Another example of “powered” stages could be addition of just one more power stage to the existing, final one. Let’s say we make the SS 1 into a power stage, awarding extra points and pushing the drivers right from the start. Some drivers are like that, they see power stage in every stage, they are hasty and impatient and SS 1 power stage would quickly filter them out. Or teach them the fine art of slowing the eff down in order to see the stage ends and finish ramp.
In my opinion, power stage should not be something artificial, a weird implant that does nothing but hurt our eyes, our heritage and our future. It should be embedded into existing rally format, be a part of it and serve as a challenge to crews and team tacticians, while at the same time providing extra entertainment to the fans. All while retaining the recognizable format, not very different from other stages and the basic principles of rallying. Power stages should not be slapped onto WRC like DRS buttons in Formula 1, a button to please the crowds no matter what. Instead, they should be fitted carefully and then fine tuned to provide the glorious turbo boost to our sport.
Add some crazy to it, sure, but don’t let the crazy take over the wheel.