Does The WRC Need Another Snow Rally? (2nd Opinion)

  • Alvin Kato

    I respect the author’s interests and response. But WRC is nothing without an event on the African continent. They should bring back the Safari and justify the championship as truly being “world” and not just semi world championship.

    • Jason Anthony

      It would be very interesting to see if today’s WRC cars and drivers would be able to survive the Safari. I’d love to see that one back, but with the manufactures driving the direction of the calendar, it is probably unlikely. Sadly, tradition always takes a back seat to money these days.

      • Alvin Kato

        I did read some article about a 2017 return, but you are right. Some manufacturers will clearly bail out on this one.
        The sad thing is that the Safari rally was n’t removed because of the FIA or the manufacturers, it was because the organizing committee was somewhat incompetent.
        From the way it looks from my side, losing a WRC event status is much easier than getting it back. I hope the Kenyan organizers have learnt their lesson….

        • Revenger210

          I actually remember the Safari was removed after teams were lowkey protesting against it; but the final nail in the coffin was Turkey, who wanted to get their event on the calendar. Following the 2003 lack of funds for Safari from the Kenyan organizers, Turkey took its place, and one of the most, if not the most unique events was lost forever in history.

          • Alvin Kato

            Teams have always respected the Safari, its very prolific, no other event offers the same terrain and feel of the natural wild like the Safari.
            I don’t recall any low key protests during the 2002 safari which was the last WRC event, the Safari’s demise can solely be blamed on the organizers and the failure of the then Kenyan government to come to the rescue of what was once a popular nation event.
            Still disappointed that Africa does n’t feature on the WRC calendar.

          • Revenger210

            well, I remember hearing a lot about how teams found the Safari to be a logistical nightmare – the cars had to be tuned up in a completely different way, they had to be outfitted with equipment that could not be reused in any other event, the costs for a single rally was simply very high for them. So, many of the teams sighed in relief after the rally was dropped.

          • Alvin Kato

            Yeah that’s true ha ha the car set up is way different than any other rally because its the Safari rally. If you hear the word “Safari” then better expect hell you know.
            But you also have to keep in mind that these same teams that have been complaining about the Safari are the same one that on media say good things about the same.
            The extra costs in my opinion was just the tip of the nail. If you have extra costs and the event is excellent organized and safety issues are catered for then you would n’t mind the costs, because its worth it.
            But some stages are on the road right, then there was a case in 2001 when bad weather prevented teams from using spotter helicopters, Armin Schwarz nearly hit a truck. So when you factor in everything to do with the organization of the event, which is poor and then add in the extra costs, then definitely teams will complain. Because the overall experience is not worth it.

          • Revenger210

            Yeah, I remember watching that a couple weeks back, a full review of the 2001 Safari. There was bad weather and that’s why they could only get one helicopter up on the air (whilst normally, each driver would get their own helicopter crew to warn them on road hazzards, like animals and other vehicles passing through). There were many pissed off drivers then.

            That along with the lack of funds on Inmarsat and the organizers following 2002, led to Safari’s death. At least it died as a legendary event, unlike my home country’s, the Acropolis Rally, which saw itself getting more and more sanitized until it basically is a shell of the car-breaker event it used to be (much like the Cyprus Rally nowadays too).

          • Alvin Kato

            Well you know legends are n’t meant to die :) but I get your point. By that time the Safari was really getting messy. The organizers seem to have to come to their senses this time around so we’ll see what happens to it at the end of the year.

            What’s wrong with the Acropolis rally? I unfortunately don’t get what you mean by the term “sanitized”. At least its still on the calendar though. That’s a huge plus!

          • Revenger210

            hmm, yeah. I’d really really love to see Safari return, but I really doubt teams nowadays would let it happen – after the ruckus they threw earlier last year for China, and given what a WRC car needs to be modified with to be able to rally in open roads, I feel we’ll be getting some actual boycotts from the big teams, like VW and Citroen.

            And, well, the way I would describe modern Acropolis and Cyprus would be like watching your grandparents grow old; they reminisce the glorious day but you feel that very special spark you had for them die and wither away.

            Like, back in 2001, you could see that Acropolis and Cyprus were sanitized versions of Safari – very hard and rough rallies that would break any car that dared to disrespect them. Nowadays, they resemble Rally Finland with a few more rocks placed around the edges.

            Plus, Greece itself has turned away from rallying in general, so it no longer holds the same myth and aura Acropolis back in the 90s and 2000s had, which was an event even casual folks here were actually looking forward to! Ever since Acropolis left the WRC calendar for the first time back in 2008, it was never quite the same, and despite a pretty good attempt to bring it back in 2011, the rally was “demoted” to ERC status, which, in turn for Greek audiences, doesn’t warrant any major attention and just another crazy thing redheaded carnuts do (which sadly is the mentality modern Greeks have about the Acropolis and it saddens me x_x )

            I can’t talk about Cyprus, because I’m not from there, but seeing public interest for one of our most prideful motorsport events go away is kinda painful :/

            PS: Sorry for being sort of a downer with this whole convo man ^^;

          • Alvin Kato

            I did hear some ruckus about China but it still made it to the calendar this year so I think teams had to swallow their complaints and get on with it. What exactly about China was crazy?

            The next Safari won’t happen on open road rally sections, rather on private gravel surfaces in private farms and what not. At least that’s what these organizers claim. Its much easier to lose WRC status than to get it back, I hope they’ve learned their lesson…

            ha ha that’s a funny description ha ha now I get ha ha ha ha you re funny.

            Well generally after the end of the McRae, Makinen, Burns and Gronholm era rallying never seemed to capture the same interest. It is event’s broadcasted here. Rallying fell off of the radar in between 2005-2012 and is slowly getting back to an event to be watched and whats not.

            ha ha no worries man. Am that way when I think about the Safari. I wonder though what will it take to get rallying to back where it was before???

          • Revenger210

            well, it was extra costs really; M-Sport said it’d bring up the costs for everything and threatened to exit the sport if it happened, and so did Volkswagen. I’m kinda glad it didn’t, but on the other hand, I’m worried of the WRC going down a F1 route, where there are so many grand prix, the grand prix themselves don’t feel special anymore.

            awwwww, that sucks! D: I so soooo wished for an open road rally again, it’d be so interesting to see how modern drivers would handle a true challenge like that!

            heh, glad you find it amusing XD But yeah, that is true, Loeb’s domination and the withdraw of major manufacturers following 2005 killed the sport. I hope Ogier’s current domination is challenged though, otherwise we’ll face a similar drought.

            Well, it would take a lot of pressure from Michelle Mouton to get the teams and drivers to drive the Safari I believe. I think many would call it too dangerous a rally to race on nowadays. Otherwise, idk, maybe better organization, secured funding, and good promotion. All easier said then done sadly (btw, which country are you from? I haven’t asked XD )

          • Alvin Kato

            I feel bad for M-Spot though. Malcolm has done a lot in WRC by helping upcoming drivers come up and this year’s program is only partly sponsored, but he’s only gotten one manufacturer’s title and no driver’s championship since the early 90s. Which sucks, so I understand where he is coming from.

            It does look like that though, everyone wants their rally thrown in to the mix, maybe if they had some sort of rotation policy that made some rallies happen once every 2 years that would be something. But yeah F1 is boring, I can’t stand it.

            ha from what I heard, it does n’t look there will be any other open road rally coming this way soon which sucks. Because that’s what made the Safari what it is, that clip of a muddy Toyota Celica approaching a herd of elephants crossing the road is the image I have of the Safari as a kid and I would love to see it brought back.

            ha ha yeah its amusing, the way you said it drives the picture home clearly. That grandparent analogy was really humorous though ha ha

            I think we blame Loeb a lot for being dominant, which is true, but look at it the other way, with the exception of Hirvonen and Gronholm who really pushed Loeb to the edge most of the other drivers did n’t seem to have the competitive edge to take him on mentally. Ogier seems to be that way today but he has Meeke and Andreas breathing down on him, so there’s hope.

            You think so? Any rally driver who would call the Safari dangerous today is really a wimp. All the legends have respect for it.

            But yes it all boils down to better organization and funding and the Safari will be back(hopefully).

            I am from Uganda but grew up in Kenya hence my passion for the Safari :D

          • Revenger210

            Wow this took forever to answer lol sorry, I honestly thought I had replied XD

            Niiiiice, an African WRC fan! A pleasure to meet you and chat with ya mate ^_^

            But yeah, all drivers today, if they went into open-road rallying, would call it quits; I still remember watching last year’s videos on Australian night stages; the conditions were not as bad as described, and older rally legends raced there with no problems at all, so I really don’t know.

            I hope the Safari makes it, but that it’s a gruesome unforgiving rally, like it was. And the clip that mostly comes to mind was the one of the Celica diving into the mud bath and emerging fully covered in it, then engaging the wipers to clean the front window and be able to see again! Also, all those spectacular helicopter shots of animals moving freely around the savannah as cars flew past them in spectacular speeds.

            Yeah I agree about Meeke breathing down Ogier’s neck, but I wouldn’t agree so heavily on Andreas; he, like Paddon, have some way to go and be all out like Ogier. I do hope Neuville picks up form and becomes as competitive and inspiring as he was a couple years back…

          • Alvin Kato

            ha ha no worries man. We all get busy!

            Yeah an African WRC fan, we are dying breed :) Pleasure to meet you as well.

            A lot of emphasis on safety has made drivers chicken out, a slight bump on the roll cage is enough for the FIA to end one’s rally so things are really softening in a bad way. Watched Finland 2014 and Ostberg retired because his roll cage got a slight bump and the car was deemed unsafe. Like what the heck????

            Yeah that clip of the celica sinking into a river is the one I also have in mind, and another Celica meeting a herd of elephants crossing the road. Now that’s the Safari for you :)

            Andreas is at a much higher level in my opinion than Paddon. No disrespect to the latter but I’d take Andreas any day, thing is I like Paddon’s humility and with the way his skill set is growing his going to be deadly!

            So I just subscribed to wrc plus and I have been watching clips from the event, Neuville retired on Friday :( so annoying!

            Jari is in the lead. I hope he wins it, am tired of good drivers having bad luck. Time to put the pressure on Ogier!

          • Revenger210

            Oh sweet! Not enough money for wrc+ on my end, No Man’s Sky preorders just showed up and I’m saving up for the collector’s edition! XD

            Aw man that sucks – god damn it Neuville…
            Glad Jari is in the lead though. Let’s see if Ogier has some decent opposition this time around…

            Hmm, yeah, idk about Andreas, he doesn’t seem like he’s gonna grow up much more than now, whilst Paddon seems to have a longer way ahead of him and climb the ranks and stuff. It’s still too early to judge for both though, it’ll be interesting to like have those two being the main champs and rivals in future WRC seasons :D

            And agreed on the drivers going soft sadly :/

          • Alvin Kato

            ha I understand. I was n’t going to get wrc+ but I got tired of checking their channel everyday even on non rally easy hoping for a miraculous free video :D now I can sample all the goodies and binge on rally events from the past 3 years which is awesome!

            Neuville just ticked me off, when McRae was n’t winning he had one of the priest from his church come and pray for the cars and bless them. Meek and Neuville need to run to church these losses and crashes sometimes are not normal…..

            Yeah for Jarri. I want him to win, he’s had a tough start. It should also help get his mind into shape, tired of these misfortunes.

            I don’t know why you think that way about Andreas, I’d take him over Ostberg any day. Its sad but today’s crop of drivers don’t seem to be competitively hungry like it was in the mid 90s to early 00s. There’s no way Makinen, McRae, Burns, Gronholm and Sainz would let the other get away with back to back victories.

            But now especially after the Loeb era, if a driver wins many rallies consistently, its like the others back off and consider him to be some sort of untouchable “god”. So why bother driving if you have already given up??

          • Rico

            So nice to see what you write AND that you have some insight ( WRC + ) to back it up, so to speak! A lot of wrc fans just say that it’s boring with Ogier winning ALL the time ( when he wants to : ) without even willing to see the bigger “picture”.

            If all the wrc drivers r soft..hmm no I don’t think so, Ogier and the VW Polo is a match made in heaven AND if you look at the 2011 season an compare Loeb and Ogier. It’s clear ( at least for me ) that Ogier is a VERY special rally driver aswell!
            When the other WRC guys try to keep up with the Polo no.1 they mess it up or their car’s get “stressed Up” ;-)
            The problem as I see it is that this also unfortunatly includes Latvala & Mikkelsen :(

            If you look at Ogiers heavy corner cutting in Rally Mexico for example you can easily see that he definitly take risks and get’s away with it. perhaps at a larger % than the other conpetitors?

            When it comes to Mikkelsen: He is definitly a good driver BUT, despite a huge experience depot he just haven’t found the right method to challenge Ogier in the long run ( the whole championship ) IF some other drivers like for example Ostberg, Meeke, Paddon or Neuville would have a go in the Polo WRC then they would ( MY opinion ) certanly match and beat Mikkelsen.

            In Rally Mexico a read about the problem ALL the WRC fiesta’s where experiencing with the engine not coping with the high altitude as a BIG ? mark. M-sport has huge experience and this shouldn’t be happening : (( Mr Wilson constantly say that they want to challenge for the podium and be a top contender. Well, the fiesta wrc is just not good enough : ((

            Now I want to appologies for some bad spelling, My english is not the best. I also hope that u read my thoughts with ;-)

            / A Rally & specially a HUGE WRC fan since 1986, born in the Dominican Republic but my nationality is Swedish : ))

          • Alvin Kato

            Thanks for the kind words. ha ha a wrc+ subscription is not worth much insight but thank you again.

            Again I’ll discount your theory that Ogier and the Polo are a match made in heaven and this statement in particular: “When the other WRC guys try to keep up with the Polo no.1 they mess it up or their car’s get “stressed Up” ;-) ”

            Makinen won 4 titles in a row using a group A car against the Impreza WRC, the Corolla WRC and the Focus WRC. Skill and technological advantage are 2 different things, Ogier has both for now. However thats not an excuse, I don’t see any aggressive driving from Ostberg or Latvala, if anything they win because of road positions which is not bad, but for the #1 driver to win a rally while doing heavy road sweeping, that shows you that his mindset and hunger are way beyond the crop of other drivers.

            Actually there was an article where Ogier said “Latvala is not mentally strong and that Andreas is the guy who is probably the guy to watch out for because he keeps getting better and better”. Andreas has hunger. He finished 3rd last year, 10 points behind Jari and way ahead of guys like Ostberg, Neuville and Dani Sordo who have been at it for much longer than he has and the guy is just 25. Surely this is promise.

            Again the car is not the issue, Neuville complained the i20 from last year was slow, he got the new one this year and crashed in Mexico twice! Its not the car its the mindset, if you think the car is faster, then you will lose.

            As for the Fiesta, I have to agree with you highly. I HATE that car! It looks like a big balloon that’s good for small family trips and taking kids to school nothing more.

            I think when Ford pulled out of the WRC as a manufacturer is when things went downhill for Mspot. I don’t think the newer designs of the Fiesta put racing/rallying into consideration, when I checked the site, the only addition to this year’s Fiesta was an extra 30bhp nothing more.

            Meanwhile the new polo had some slight changes in aerodynamics and modifications here and there to add onto its already winning formula. At least Citroen is building a better car, and there is Toyota for next year but for Mspot, I sadly have given up on them for this year.

            Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Don’t mind the English, we understand you clearly and I have read your thoughts!

            Glad to meet another rally fan from another country and continent. Big ups to both Sweden and the Dominican Republic! :)

          • Rico

            Well this is what I love! Fans discuss and put their opinions “on the table”. Perhaps we’re not always thinking the same BUT that’s only nice AND reading your thoughts just make me think in more ways to have thoughts and questions about the current wrc!

            Mikkelsen IS a good driver no question about it but a base my opinion on that he is also driving the Polo Wrc.

            As for the Hyundai it’s ( as I see it ) a BIG shame that the car ( suspension, driveshaft & gearbox ) seems to be less reliable than the other cars! : ((

            As for the 2017 season I really hope that someone can match and beat VW! Yes Toyota will come back and hopefully have a bag of money to back it all up :) My fear is that It’s not easy to step in and try to beat manufactures with a lot of experience about the current and upcoming regulations But ofcourse a keep my fingers crossed : )

          • Alvin Kato

            It seems everyone believes the Polo R WRC is an unbeatable machine I hope something happens to change that notion.

            The fact that VW have the best drivers won’t help change that opinion for the moment though.

            I don’t know what’s wrong with Hyundai as a team but the fact that Hayden Paddon has been able to consistently bring good results is a sign that the car if handled well can do amazing stuff.
            Maybe if Neuville stopped “touching the back of the car on corners” or “losing rear suspension” then Hyundai would be winning.

            Again having grown up seeing Makinen dominate WRC cars for 4 straight years, I don’t believe in the infalliable WRC machine as being the sole determinator of how good a team is, it has to be the driver and his mindset. Someone who wants to win, will win whatever it takes. At the moment it seems like VW are the aggressors and the rest of the teams mere passive watchmen which is really sad.

            But hey, Argentina is a couple of days away. Let’s wait and see what happens shall we? :-)

          • Rico

            Well said ( written ) !! :- ))

          • Alvin Kato

            Thank you. Lets continue the conversation during rally Argentina!

  • Hymer

    Is it possible to get beyond 14 rounds again? There were alot of protests when FIA added China.

  • mattjelonek

    I don’t think bringing the WRC back to Africa is a great idea. Realistically you have to see it from a safety point of view. It won’t be safe for drivers, it won’t be safe for teams to travel and it won’t be safe for guests and spectators. Not the reality of stages for the cars or location. Actual safety for people if you’re understanding my point. What the world is going through, it’s not the best.
    Look at the market growth for the WRC. China will and is a great market for the WRC to go to.
    But I also see the change in climate – so adding another snow rally would do the championship good. Make the series different!!! Make it more challenging but don’t forget like we experienced in Sweden this year. Work with the the climate of weather – push the rally forward a couple of weeks or change the month of the round or even the Scandinavian country to make it real with guaranteed snow!!

    • Moses M

      Please explain “not safe”
      Are you reffering to malaria, nigerian email scams or drought?

      • Jason Anthony

        If Safari returns, it would be a shadow of it’s former self. There is no way that open road stages would still be permitted in today’s WRC.

        • wrblog

          And this is where any talk of an old Safari making a comeback will (and probably should) end. It was an iconic event, but it belongs to a different time. However, this does not mean I am against an event in Africa, far from it!

          • mattjelonek

            Terrorism and safety.

            Think Dakar just before it went to South America. And don’t tell me it can’t happen, as in what happened in the last few years IN Northern Africa.

          • Moses M

            Unfortunately, terrorism now happens anywhere including Paris. So do safety fiascos like Bertelli’s in Portugal 2015. These incidents are the exception, not the norm.

            The 2015 Kenya championship was run on about 80% special stages, 20% open roads. The special stages were all run on private farms and nature reserves. Due to lack of spectator access to private stages, event organizers and sponsors were “forced” to include spectator stages and increase tv and other electronic media coverage. The financial benefit of a media boost to the organizers and teams was instant.

            The 8th and last event had over 80 starters, twice the amount of the first event. As a result, the Kenyans have now secured funds for a wrc candidate and one other wrc. They are yet to secure required funds for 3 wrc events

          • Alvin Kato

            Thank you for that clarification Moses. Its ironic that people still think of terrorism when Africa is mentioned. From the way people talk about Africa as being unsafe, you would think we live in a war zone filled with landmines…..

            “If Safari returns, it would be a shadow of it’s former self.” This is hilarious.

            @disqus_wXlbK3f6mv:disqus When you say “shadow” what are you referring to exactly? The roads, the scenery, the weather? Have you even been to Kenya to confirm this??

            @mattjelonek:disqus North Africa and East Africa are 2 different locations. Most Northern countries don’t consider themselves to be part of Africa and after the Arab uprising its common knowledge globally that that region is unstable. The safari however was held in Kenya which is FAR from being anywhere near the NORTH!

            @wrblog:disqus I’ll buy you a drink if Safari comes back in the coming years, and we’ll toast to this interesting conversation that sparked off quite a thread.

          • Jason Anthony

            Alvin, I’m sorry, I didn’t see your post until now. By “shadow of its former self” I’m referring to how the modern WRC promoter would neuter what was the legendary Safari rally with it’s ultra-long stages to a cookie cutter rally much like we see in Europe. The WRC promoter has no interest in long stages as we have seen the 80km stage in Mexico nixed. So, what i meant by this is that today, the Safari rally would never be allowed to be run in it’s original format.

          • Jason Anthony

            Actually, I have been to Kenya back in 2011 and drove on some roads that made me think of the Safari rally. I never understood how rough those roads were until I was bumping over them in a Land Rover! :-) We could barely get above 5mph in some places even with a vehicle that had high ground clearance… I still can’t believe that rally cars are able to do it… especially rally cars from 30 years ago when the suspension technology was nowhere near what it is today.

          • Alvin Kato

            ha ha quite an experience I can imagine. You can imagine what its like to take a driving test on some of these roads :-)
            Yeah those cars from back then were beasts of technology. What parts of Kenya did you visit when you were here?

          • Jason Anthony

            I spent most of my time in Kijabe doing teaching to nursing students at the hospital. It is a beautiful region!

          • Alvin Kato

            Ah the central region. Most of the farmlands are in the central so yes its beautiful!

            Fun fact: I was meant to attend Kijabe high school back in the day but I declined. I was too tired of being in Central and wanted to be in the city.

            Glad you enjoyed it here. You should let me know if you ever come back!

          • Jason Anthony

            In the near future, it is not likely. however, you never know what the future holds, so if I ever get another opportunity to travel there, I’ll definitely be in touch!

          • Alvin Kato

            Thanks man. I’ll be looking forward to it!

          • Alvin Kato

            Hi Jason. No worries. Thanks for replying. And from that perspective I get what you mean. From what transpired in Mexico its clear that the long Safari stages would n’t even make the cut for today’s event. This begs the question has WRC become soft??

          • Jason Anthony

            My answer would be yes.

          • Alvin Kato

            Dear Lord. The late 90s marked the end of an era :(

            How about giving us some thoughts on what can be done to change this? Or what led to this in the form of a blog post. I’d be the first to comment! :-)

  • Moses M

    Interesting. 1st Canada would need to find funding for a couple of years, then run a rally in FiA format.

  • Revenger210

    For a second snow rally, I’d still like to see a Siberian rally. Siberia is in Asia technically, so it would be a very interesting premise for a rally, and could tap into the Asian market too.

    Then again it’s Russia, so all this could blow up in the air…

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