I have to admit I am rather interested in the turn that WRC is taking. Among other things, it seems the FIA is putting in motion quite an amount of new ideas. I am particularly interested in the shakedown qualifying aspect. When I first heard about that, I was wondering if this would turn into a "making as many runs as possible" frenzy where the sprint drivers would come out on top every time after, say, having 15 goes at it... Or would it respect the rallying mentality of doing 2 recce passes and then flat out commitment on notes, with the first attempt counting as the qualifying time. It seems the latest talk is about the third run or best out of three runs counting as the qualifying time. So who knows...
I don't know if it will ever be possible to get over this tactics business.
Back when I still drove, the first 10 or 15 cars were reversed. The best guys had a clean road, they were happy. The privateers and slower factory cars were not, of course. Rallies were usually won by a Frenchman on saturday evening, with over a minute lead. Sunday was usually a walk in the park for him. At least today there is almost always a heavy fight up until the end.
So all in all this whole thing about running order and tactics seems to me like a never ending spiral.
I was wondering about one thing. Keep in mind the idea I am about to propose maybe totally ridiculous, but as this is my personal blog...
Has anyone talked about ballasting the top cars yet, say, with something similar to the system in place in WTCC?
Here is my take on the matter:
When I look at the big picture, it seems that no matter what has been done to regulate the running order, cleaning, etc. over the past years has not had the results hoped for. There is always a loser of some kind, somebody who is disadvantaged. It is unfortunate that the majority of interviewed drivers I see on TV are systematically talking about their running position, how much they lose, gain, etc. I keep hearing the same things over again and there seems to be a lot of complaints about tactics being employed.
Compared to 10 years ago, today's cars are very close to each other in terms of performance. Everybody has the same tires, similar gearboxes, shocks, differentials. Rallies are shorter, etc. What has happened over the years is: we have seen gaps get smaller and smaller to such an extent that road conditions has become "the" thing to talk about. 10 years ago, if Mäkinen lost 1 minute opening the road on the first day, he knew he could gain it all back the next day with, for example, a bold tire choice, or perhaps because his car was better on some upcoming rough roads... Nowadays, everything is so controlled and perfected that these sorts of differences seldom occur. Differences are therefore left to be made with road sweeping.
The fact is that, in rally, road conditions change car after car and obviously someone will always have an issue with it. I don't think you can control that, no matter what you try.
What you can control, on the other hand, is car performance. Perhaps this is something to think about.
I would be really interested to know what you guys think about this! I am looking forward to discussing this further, or any other ideas about this subject! Pandora's box is now open.