WRC: Drivers angry over tractor chicane on Finland stage

2016-08-02 13:52:31

The use of tractors to make a chicane on a Rally Finland stage has been deemed "irresponsible" by World Rally Championship drivers and teams.

Two tractors promoting event sponsor Valtra were positioned in the formation of a chicane on the Harju spectator stage run on the first two days of the event.


WRC champion Sebastien Ogier said drivers were particularly concerned because the chicane was on an asphalt section where they were running gravel tires, making grip levels lower, particularly if it rained.

There was also a feeling among crews that the move was in poor taste given Formula 1 driver Jules Bianchi's impact with a trackside recovery vehicle in the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix.

"We talked about this straight after the recce and said, 'This can't be serious!'" said Ogier. "The FIA is fighting for road safety and in F1 we see such bad accidents involving tractors.

"OK, our cars are a little bit safer with more [protection] around us and we don't arrive with the same speed, but anyway there's no point to do that – it's not really clever.

"We asked for these to be removed after we drove the stage on Thursday night for the second time we went to the stage on Friday, but they were not."

Volkswagen team principal Jost Capito backed his driver's stance.

"It was irresponsible to allow this to happen," he said. "Tractors have no place on a stage."

Rally Finland clerk of the course Kai Tarkiainen stood by the decision to place the tractors on the stage as part of the commercial tie-up with manufacturer Valtra.

"The company consulted with me to see if that could be done," Tarkiainen said. "I consulted the FIA and then made the decision. We measured everything and considered everything that could happen.

"It was done with the FIA's measurements regarding how much free space there has to be between the obstacles and the regulation doesn't define what the obstacle should be."

He insisted he was "surprised" by crews' complaints "because none of the teams have approached me about it."


Originally on Autosport.com

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