Teams hit out at tyre regulations
|By Matt Beer||Saturday, December 6th 2008, 09:13 GMT|
World Rally champion Sebastien Loeb and leading team bosses have called for changes to the championship's tyre regulations after day one of the Rally GB was truncated due to icy conditions.
Two of Friday's stages were cancelled and four others shortened for safety reasons, but many in the service park believe that the full distance could have been run if the crews had been allowed to use more suitable tyres.
Under this year's control tyres regulations, the standard gravel tyres are being used in Wales, and Pirelli is unable to add cuts to help drivers cope with the stage conditions.
Citroen boss Olivier Quesnel and his Subaru counterpart David Richards have both hit out at the rules, saying the current situation is bad for both safety and the spectacle.
"The conditions were quite awful," said Quesnel.
"For these conditions we didn't have the right tyre. That's not the fault of Pirelli, but the fault of the regulations. It is stupid, because we could have made a nice rally for the spectators and competitors with an emergency tyre.
"It was bad - especially for the spectators. It was a mess and it was stupid. This is supposed to be a show and we need spectators, but we cannot put on a good show without good tyres. Obviously there is also the aspect of safety, and what we have been doing is not nice."
Richards believes there should be a degree of flexibility in the rules to allow for unexpected weather.
"For some time now, after the introduction of the control tyre, we have said that there should be an emergency tyre available in the event of extreme conditions," he said.
"When conditions are like today it should be at the discretion of the clerk of the course to use them. We should not find ourselves in a situation where we are not able to deliver to spectators, who have had an even more frustrating day than us.
"One of my guys drove down from Warwickshire at 6am and hasn't seen a rally car in action. How can we turn round to the general public and say that it was too slippery for the best drivers in the world to perform? It makes a mockery of the whole sport.
"We've repeatedly spoken to the FIA about this and we've been told it's too complicated to sort out. We don't accept this."
Loeb agreed with the criticisms of the tyre regulations, but added that he also wanted to see gravel crews reintroduced so that drivers had more warning about potential hazards in the stages. He believes Chris Atkinson's heavy accident on Friday evening could have been avoided under different rules.
"There are a lot of very difficult places with ice, and we have no information," he said.
"I don't like it. The problem here is more the ice. The problem is we don't have the tyres for these conditions and we don't have gravel crews.
"I think it would be much less expensive to have some gravel crews and to save some cars, like Chris's yesterday. Where Chris went off, I'm sure with a gravel crew and a different tyre, he would not have gone off because it was just aquaplaning.
"With a gravel crew and a good tyre, it would be okay. I'm not sure this is a good way for safety."