The anti-cutting device is something that’s become more and more of a thing in the World Rally Championship over the last decade. Whether its built-up banking, a straw bale, a rock or a steel post embedded in concrete, rally organizers around the globe have deployed such tactics in an effort to keep cars on the road.
And – more importantly for the organizers – to avoid damage to the edges of the roads. Last month’s Rally Estonia was a prime example: rocks, poles and bales everywhere. One seasoned professional co-driver offered a rueful thought towards next week’s Ypres Rally.
“Presumably, there’s going to be something in every corner…”
As we’ve already pointed out on DirtFish, Ypres Rally manager Alain Penasse is somebody who likes to let drivers take a natural line through lanes which are notorious for corner-cutting.
With his team working on the stages in readiness for the recce, has he delivered on his promise of delivering anti-anti-cutting devices?
“We have five,” he said. “That’s five on the whole route. And they are only in the places where you are going to take a wheel off. We don’t want any more drivers talking to the stewards about trying to get to service without four wheels on the car.
“This is a rally, if you want to cut a corner, cut it. If you don’t want to cut a corner then go circuit racing. And anyway, if we wanted to put these things [anti-cutting devices] in, then we would have to do it in so many corners and the fantastic volunteers we have working with us are already busy enough making the stages.”
Penasse has been flat-out on final preparations for Belgium’s maiden WRC event since departing his role as Hyundai Motorsport team manager last month. Those preparations have been impacted by the devastating floods experienced in the country in recent weeks.
Anything we have to worry about is really nothing compared with what some people have been through in recent weeks.Alain Penasse
“It’s been a busy time, but we haven’t had any surprises in the last few days,” said Penasse.
“When we saw the areas of the floods, we were quite confident the roads were high enough for the route to be unaffected.
“Unfortunately we have made one small change to the Malmedy stage on Sunday, shortening it and calling it Stavelot instead. This was because the local police force requested the change to help with their manpower for the rally. It was making it more complicated if we ran the full length. Of course we made the change.”
That change means cutting the 10.32-mile stage in half. Stavelot (SS17/19) runs twice on Sunday’s final day.
“While we have been preparing for this event, we have done it alongside stories of genuine tragedy,” added Penasse.
“Anything we have to worry about is really nothing compared with what some people have been through in recent weeks.”
Penasse confirmed the event organizers would join drivers like Adrien Fourmaux and Oliver Solberg, who have both pledged support to those impacted by the flooding.
“We all know people who have suffered in this, and we want to get the rally done before we sit down and think about what we do.”
Rain has continued to fall for the last fortnight, but forecasters are predicting drier weather moving into rally week.
“It has been very wet,” said Penasse. “And the rain has forced us to make some changes to the spectator car parks; we had been planning to use some fields once the wheat had been harvested, but the rain means the crops are still in the fields! These are some of the issues we’ve had to deal with, but we’re getting there.”