FIA hits back at criticism of night stage on WRC Rally Australia

The FIA World Rally Championship manager Michele Mouton says drivers were wrong to describe Rally Australia's night stage as unsafe and just "don't like uncertainty"

FIA hits back at criticism of night stage on WRC Rally Australia

Lead combatants Sebastien Ogier and Kris Meeke both felt dust hanging in the air caused dangerously poor visibility levels when the Valla stage was run after dark at the end of last Saturday's leg in Australia.

Rally organisers have confirmed the after-dark stage will run again in 2016, and Mouton doubted drivers' complaints were genuinely motivated by safety.

"This is not a safety issue at all. This is about the performance issue," she told AUTOSPORT.

"I think we have to cool down on this now.

"Kris Meeke lost his lead to Sebastien Ogier in that stage. If he was two seconds faster than Ogier, then I think he would say nothing.

"I understand he wants to go faster, but he cannot blame everybody else.

"Did you look at the onboard from [Hayden] Paddon? He was starting the stage after Meeke, so if there was dust, there should have been more dust for him, but there is no more dust."

Mouton said the fact Ogier's stage-winning time of 4m25.1s was two seconds up on his first attempt in the afternoon was evidence conditions were manageable.

"If there was dust, then how is it possible the drivers were going faster than their first run in the daylight?" she said.

"The trouble is with these drivers, they don't like uncertainty and the dark brings uncertainty.

"As well as that, they are not used to competing in the dark, but it is part of the challenge."

MOUTON SNUBS DRIVERS' INVITATION

Hyundai's Thierry Neuville said drivers wanted Mouton - the 1982 WRC runner-up - to experience first-hand what the current field were facing.

"Things have changed since she was competing," said Neuville.

"When she was driving, it was with half-speed, old tyres without grip and they were fighting for minutes, not for tenths of seconds.

"The invitation is not only coming from me to sit in the car, it's from all of the drivers - every one of us would like the chance to show Michele how is it today compared with when she was driving."

Mouton denied riding in a current car would be useful to her.

"They think I don't know what is going on in the car? I won't go," she said.

"You don't rule the championship because you know or your don't know [what goes on in the car]. You do this by having a complete picture of the sport."

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