WRC drivers stand by threat of boycotting stages to ensure safety

Leading World Rally Championship drivers remain ready to boycott stages on any round of the series if they feel their safety is being undermined

WRC drivers stand by threat of boycotting stages to ensure safety

A boycott was narrowly avoided on last week's Rally Sweden, after the majority of drivers felt they were not sufficiently consulted on the compromised weather conditions.

Inside the million-pound Swedish stand-off

The crews called a meeting between themselves at 6am on Friday, before the start of the opening leg, and decided to drive directly to the day's second test, by-passing the Torsby stage by way of protest.

The move was foiled when Hyundai driver Hayden Paddon refused.

The drivers will meet again before round three starts in Mexico and FIA officials are ready to work with them to avoid the threat of similar action.

Sebastien Ogier and Kris Meeke pushed for the drivers' voices to be heard in a series of meetings leading up to the start and when they were ignored, they sought to take action further by not driving the first stage.

"We think it's not normal we are not consulted on such things," Ogier told Motorsport News.

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

Rally Sweden's revised and shortened itinerary ran without issue, but Meeke said the drivers stood firm on their actions.

"We need to do this [drivers' group] in a proper way," Meeke told MN.

"If we're not happy then we need to be in a position where we can call the shots - or at least have an input into the calling of the shots.

"We don't want it to get to an embarrassing situation where we're heading out on a road section and going against the grain of the rally.

"But, we're ready to look at this kind of action again."

Some of the drivers' frustration goes back to Rally Australia last year, where there was a feeling that driving dusty, gravel stages in the dark was unsafe.

Meeke added: "I talked [to the FIA] in Sweden and I was told we have to communicate these concerns before the event.

"Before Australia, there were about 25 emails in the three months since the itinerary came out and nothing happened.

"We were all pissed off about that during the rally and when we leave the place, we're told: 'When you come back next year, you'll be doing three night stages...'

"At that point we need to go and park up."

Meeke felt the commercial side of running rallies had taken precedent over the sporting aspect.

"Ten years ago," he said, "this rally would have been cancelled and the reason it wasn't cancelled this time is because of the money - money's starting to dictate now.

"Nobody understands that when you drive on these tyres with no studs, it's a bit of a nightmare. The speeds we're doing here, you just can't do it.

"There's a feeling that we're becoming puppets being sent out because they need to make television to make money.

"If they had tried to run the stages on full gravel, it would have made a mockery of the sport."

For more on the off-stage turmoil that threatened to overshadow Rally Sweden, read this week's edition of Motorsport News.

shares
comments
WRC return in Sweden exceeded expectations, Citroen's Breen says

Previous article

WRC return in Sweden exceeded expectations, Citroen's Breen says

Next article

WRC still keen on winter rallies after Rally Sweden problems

WRC still keen on winter rallies after Rally Sweden problems
Load comments
How Neuville stole the show from Ogier vs Evans slugfest in Spain Plus

How Neuville stole the show from Ogier vs Evans slugfest in Spain

While all pre-event chat focused on the two World Rally Championship title fighters, their closest challenger charged into the spotlight on Rally Spain. Thierry Neuville's star turn and another strong drive from Elfyn Evans in his fight with Sebastien Ogier made for an intriguing event as the 2021 campaign nears its crunch point

WRC
Oct 18, 2021
The steely determination behind the WRC’s Solberg 2.0 Plus

The steely determination behind the WRC’s Solberg 2.0

Two decades after Petter Solberg emerged as a World Rally Championship winner, his son Oliver is ready to take the WRC by storm. Having secured a part-time WRC factory drive for Hyundai in 2022, he's raring to repay the marque's faith in him and follow in his 2003 champion father's footsteps

WRC
Oct 14, 2021
Analysing the key moves in WRC’s 2022 silly season Plus

Analysing the key moves in WRC’s 2022 silly season

The World Rally Championship will step into a new hybrid era in 2022, but the car changes haven't been the only excitement that has built within the paddock. WRC's 'silly season' kicked off in a big way and all the key driver moves for 2022 - of which there are many - look set to shake things up

WRC
Oct 13, 2021
How joining Finland’s exclusive club was Evans' true WRC coming-of-age Plus

How joining Finland’s exclusive club was Evans' true WRC coming-of-age

By his own admission, the fifth World Rally Championship victory of Elfyn Evans' career in Finland last weekend was the drive of his life. Winning five stages in a row and soaking up huge pressure from the Hyundais on the fastest gravel stages around, the Welshman put in a faultless showing that proved what he is truly made of

WRC
Oct 4, 2021
Does Neuville have a point with his Rally1 rant? Plus

Does Neuville have a point with his Rally1 rant?

OPINION: Thierry Neuville's diatribe against the upcoming Rally1-spec machines that will usher in the World Rally Championship's new hybrid era was remarkable in an era where drivers are usually reticent to air their views in public. But are the Belgian's concerns about speed, safety and cost entirely valid?

WRC
Sep 16, 2021
How the WRC's new flying Finn reached new heights in the Greek mountains Plus

How the WRC's new flying Finn reached new heights in the Greek mountains

After Kalle Rovanpera’s historic feat at Rally Estonia, the Finn scaled new heights at the Rally of the Gods with a commanding victory. And this time Toyota’s young star demonstrated why the future is bright with his devastating speed and consistency at the Acropolis Rally

WRC
Sep 13, 2021
The WRC drivers that came of age at the Acropolis Rally Plus

The WRC drivers that came of age at the Acropolis Rally

Five drivers have won first time out at the Rally Acropolis, transcending the tough dirt and gravel Greek roads to cement a place in rallying folklore. Here are three of the first-time winners' tales

WRC
Sep 9, 2021
Understanding Suninen’s sudden WRC exit gamble Plus

Understanding Suninen’s sudden WRC exit gamble

From being considered a likely contender to drive the next-generation M-Sport Ford Puma in 2022, Teemu Suninen's abrupt exit has created plenty of questions. The Finn's bid to become his country's next World Rally Championship winner won't be furthered by being sidelined, but there may be reason behind the decision

WRC
Sep 2, 2021