Drivers petition to keep gravel crews

Ford star Markko Martin has emerged as the key mover behind a petition circulating amongst all the WRC drivers asking for gravel crews to be reinstated for 2004

Drivers petition to keep gravel crews

New rules being introduced by the sport's governing body, the FIA, for next year means than most events will move to a 'Mille Pistes' format, where crews recce the stages on the actual day they are run competitively. This theoretically eliminates the need for gravel crews, who check the stages and pace notes a couple of hours before the stage is run.

But the overwhelming majority of drivers say that getting rid of gravel crews compromises their safety. Shekhar Mehta, President of the World Rallies Commission disagrees, and said recently that gravel crews are an aid to performance rather than safety.

The petition that Martin is co-ordinating is expected to be signed by all of the drivers. Rumours circulated yesterday (Thursday) that Citroen boss Guy Frequelin had suggested his drivers do not sign the petition, but he denied this.

Citroen driver Carlos Sainz did not reveal if he had signed the petition, but commented: "There are certainly some circumstances where the lack of gravel crews compromise safety. There are other rallies, like Monte Carlo, where it is absolutely impossible to run without gravel crews. The issue needs to be looked at carefully."

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