In World Rally Championship we rarely hear about politics and I think that’s a very good thing, even though I am pretty sure there exists a massive political battlefield even in our beloved motor sport series. Most of what we hear from team bosses and other officials, promoters or the FIA, is completely harmless and utterly diplomatic, so one would think everybody is happy with everything and they’re all best friends forever, all of them. Yes, sometimes certain individuals will break this code and speak their mind more freely, but for now we get this impression that there is no need to use strong language and risk starting a media war or at least a small battle. Maybe there isn’t, ours is a strong championship, or at least it’s on the mend after being neglected and abused for years. Granted, there are still issues and open topics, but overall trends are mostly positive.
In today’s world, all this means WRC is, well, almost boring, in a way. Unless there is drama and conflicts, the sport in today’s world risks being overshadowed by less exciting but more drama ridden competing series, just because, well, drama. Racing is boring and DRS infested and even Pastor Maldonado fails to deliver on track? No biggie, just pull some drama strings and voila, it’s exciting and interesting once again. Rally folk, however, does not live for this kind of excitement. We get our share on the stages – but sometimes it doesn’t hurt to have a bit of a good old quarrel between teams or drivers. This is exactly how I understood the exchange between Sebastien Ogier, Jari-Matti Latvala and Kris Meeke. Sebastien Ogier succumbed to his frustrations with the road position rules in Portugal, media saw the chance and grabbed it and suddenly Ogier was accused of bashing Latvala for winning only because he (Ogier) was forced to sweep the roads and lose time. As we all know, Ogier would make a horrible politician and this wasn’t his best moment, even though he didn’t really bash Jari-Matti; current road position rules were his target as he allowed frustrations to take over. We saw some arrogance, we saw some whining, but above all we saw raw emotions and passion – every single rally counts, no matter how big your advantage in overall classification is. Ogier certainly could have used a different approach, but I am glad he didn’t, if this is what he really feels and who he really is.
We know how the story played on. Latvala said he didn’t feel as a victim of Ogier’s verbal attack while Kris Meeke instructed Ogier to think before he speaks, saying he (Seb) is old enough to understand that acting up in public is not exactly the best thing to do for the sport. Yeah, by getting involved, Kris also helped promoting Ogier’s “harmful” behaviour, but I kinda liked this little war of words, so to speak. I did because I knew they will do their actual talking on stages soon enough, but it feels good to know they are not afraid to speak their mind and let their emotions take over if needed. That’s how we know they’re only human and that’s how we know they really care about what they do.
Now, should we change those road position rules?