World Rally Championship drivers planned Sweden stage boycott

A boycott of the opening stage of Rally Sweden was narrowly averted on Friday morning due to a lack of unanimous agreement for the action among World Rally Championship drivers

World Rally Championship drivers planned Sweden stage boycott

The manufacturer crews convened a meeting between themselves at 6am local time in Karlstad, where a plan was agreed to drive directly to the day's second competitive stage, boycotting the Torsby test.

The drivers are unhappy at what they see as a lack of consultation from the FIA, WRC Promoter and the event organiser regarding the safety implications of running this week's Rally Sweden in less than ideal weather conditions.

ANALYSIS: Why Rally Sweden was in jeopardy

Ironically, the weather has since turned colder and the roads are looking increasingly wintry, with heavy snow falling through Friday's opening leg and overnight into Saturday

The plan to boycott Torsby was thwarted when Hyundai driver Hayden Paddon refused to comply on the direction of his team.

WRC champion Sebastien Ogier said the drivers wanted to press home their concerns at the safety implications of competing in sub-optimal conditions for the snow tyres.

"This morning we had a very short, quick meeting - we are concerned about these things," Ogier told Autosport.

"We think it's not normal we are not consulted on such things.

"We have to meet each other again in the future and make sure that we have the place to take part in these discussions, with at least one driver taking our views to these meetings."

Paddon said he agreed with his fellow drivers' stance but not their methods.

"It wasn't just me. It was our team," he told Autosport.

"The other drivers wanted a commitment at six o'clock and I wasn't prepared to risk my job at six in the morning.

"Of course, I agree with the principle of what we're debating and I think the drivers should be involved in that process, but if you're going to make a protest, then you have to actually threaten on what you're going to do and then you do it.

"You can't really do it by just boycotting a stage.

"My opinion is that this was about more than just us drivers; we're dealing with organisers who are really struggling here and there were a lot of spectators who had paid their money to get in there."

SWEDEN DAY ONE REPORT: Ogier leads, drama behind

Rally Sweden has cut eight stages from original 21-stage itinerary due to the lack of hard ice on some roads and Ogier had paid tribute to the FIA's efforts, and FIA WRC manager Michele Mouton in particular, earlier in the week.

"She was in the stage and she did her job," said Ogier.

"There were some details which were not perfect and we would have liked to have had a part in that discussion, but at least she did her job pretty well her job."

For a detailed analysis of how and why the boycott was planned, see next week's issue of Motorsport News - on sale from Wednesday February 17

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