So long, “massive, epic” 80 km special stage, you failed at… something

There is nothing good about supermassive special stages. They have no meaning and no purpose. They do not add any extra challenge. They also do not posses any sporting and, more importantly, commercial value. They’re pointless. And if you think they could be good for that holy “endurance” factor, nope, that’s sufficiently “covered in the WRC as it is”. I wonder what FIA’s president Jean Todt thinks about it, but I am sure he will, at some point, reiterate his desire to bring endurance back to the WRC. How, when and in what way, well, that’s not really important, is it.

After reading that article on Autosport, and promoter’s and rally director’s comments, I wonder why did they decide to run this 80 kilometer special stage at all? They are experienced rally professionals, surely they knew what to expect in terms of logistics. Maybe this stage did not meet some other requirements? I.e. nobody crashed on it, there were no dramas to write about, so this star of the show kind of faded away; a lot of work for nothing. We’re told that it was about logistics and how complex this stage turned out to be, organization-wise. It went from being called a decider and a challenge, before the event, to big disappointment and logistical nightmare afterwards.

I am not sure what did they expect from it, but it did not happen and this massive 80 kilometer stage will not be back next year. Or ever, if you ask WRC Promoter’s Olivier Ciesla. His comments are particularly odd, but they also provide some insight into what he and promoter expected from this Mexican monster.

“From the promoter’s point of view an 80km stage is too long and doesn’t add any sporting or commercial value and nor does it make the competition more interesting.

“In fact, the opposite seems the case – it’s even questionable whether this long stage motivates the drivers to go flat-out or look to bring the car to the finish.” (emphasis mine)

Once again, Mr. Promoter demonstrated his well known ability to completely miss the point of the sport he is supposedly promoting. But, let’s not forget we’re dealing with people who wanted to shove those idiotic shootout stages into the WRC. I may be wrong, but I never thought of rallying as a “flat-out everywhere” kind of sport. To me, it never was just about pushing the right pedal to the metal and keeping it there till the end, but I could be wrong and Ciesla could be right. I can’t imagine flat-out approach being the only viable option in events such as Acropolis and Kenya, but maybe that’s why we don’t have such events anymore.

I cannot help thinking that maybe Mr. Ciesla and his team picked a wrong sport to promote. The World Rallycross Championship would have been a much better choice, but damn, thing got hooked up with Monster, of all things. Much hurt.

But, all is not dark and gray. Let’s wrap it up with a joke, provided by Rally Mexico director Patrick Suberville (who never returned his replies to an email interview we agreed on last year, after lake and spectator crashes dramas).

“We had more safety cars on that stage than we had rally cars!” joked Suberville.


Link to Autosport article.