Following last week’s Rally Sweden, there has been plenty of criticism both during and following the running of the event from drivers and teams as to the conditions of several stages, particularly through Friday and Saturday’s second loops.
Complaints mostly seem to centre around the running of the Historic class between the first and second loops, as the narrower track of the older machines (following on from also from both WRC2 classics and the junior category) tore through the slender sheet of ice, rendering some of the stages rugged in a Rally GB fashion.
Certainly not the best conditions for studded snow tyres.
It has been noted that the inclusion of the Historics brings in an additional financial buffer for the event promoters, helping to keep Rally Sweden alive, but it is also understandable that some drivers were left dismayed by some of the stage conditions. On the other hand, the complaints from the drivers are understandable; however they are competing at the highest level and need to drive to the conditions as such.
There needs to be compromise though between the organiser, the drivers/teams and the FIA and I have no doubt each party could concede a little to better the event, but this may be a case of watching to see who budges first.
As an aside, this was not just about the Historics. The event organiser cannot perfect the weather – February was much warmer than usual and we really saw the result of that on Saturday’s stages, but even I could tell that the conditions for the 2nd run through Karlstad on Saturday were quite ridiculous, as what little ice and sludge that was present on Friday turns into large pools come Saturday evening.
Whatever the case, a better solution needs to be found – not just in terms of the running order, but for the event itself.
That such a prodigious event is just about keeping its head above water thanks to the inclusion of the Historics is indicative that, maybe, wider reaching solutions need to found. Certainly the WRC is on something of an upward trend at the moment, but considering the difficulties faced by M-Sport prior to Monte and with teams suggesting that fourteen events in a season may be the current limit, there are indications that, in some ways, the top level of rallying is still carefully treading water.