Ott Tänak’s absolutely on the money with this one – if you see a corner, cut it.
I’m all for regulations, but rallying is all about spotting an opportunity and using it. Within reason. Trouble is, where does reason begin and end?
Undoubtedly, what would look like an outrageous cut from first on the road Kalle Rovanperä on Friday morning will look quite normal by the time half the field has passed the same bend on the same stage second time around.
The rules are clear: two wheels have to remain on the road. And when it comes to Croatia or Japan, the definition of the road is similarly clear – it’s the black stuff which is lined by the green stuff.
In the middle of Lolida, that line’s not always so precise.
When the World Rally Championship first arrived back in Kenya, the teams drilled the drivers with reminders that corner cutting couldn’t happen. Adrien Fourmaux remains the only high-profile driver to have fallen foul of that. The Frenchman saw it, took it and accepted the 10-second penalty.
Perhaps it’s a mindset thing, the drivers are relaxing into Africa now and they’re starting to push the limits and the boundaries, starting to ask more searching questions. It’s what they do. It’s what makes them great.
Tänak told DirtFish: “This one is a special one. I would say in Dakar, you don’t want to be putting any artificial anti-cuts, you know it’s not natural for the challenge we are looking for here in Safari.
“I would say, yeah, we can have one rally per year where just go for it and find your way through a stage. It’s another aspect in this rally where you need to keep your eyes open and find the shortest way.”
It’s hard to argue with that sentiment.
But former Junior World Rally champion and hugely respected WRC privateer Martin Prokop’s going to give it a go.
“You should respect the rules,” he said, “and the rules are saying that you should always have some wheels on the road, so you can cut just by two wheels and still touch the main road. It’s difficult to say what is the main road here, but we can see on the roadbook it’s significant where the track is from the organizers.
“For me, I will not cut, I will keep going by the road and for me it’s anyway safer. You cannot go everywhere on the recce so for me it’s safer to stay on the road. But in my opinion you should respect the rules, even if it’s Safari.”
World champion and former Safari winner Sébastien Ogier sees middle ground adding:
“Here, you cannot apply these rules where you have four wheels out of line of the road because there are many, many places here where you are barely seeing the road.
“At the end of the day, it’s a matter of respecting the roadbook and being sensible – don’t do cuts through a field and avoiding some corners for sure, but seeing some cars being more on the inside than normal I think is to be expected here.
“Let us race in a sensible way. That’s part of Safari.”
An interesting aspect of this is the deployment of anti-cut devices. This is not somewhere we want to see bright red rocks with brighter red poles sticking out of them. And traffic cones have no place in Sleeping Warrior.
Don’t worry, the organizer has taken care of it. Fallen trees, logs, branches and big rocks which look like they’ve been sitting in that precise place – conveniently on the inside of a bend – since the Pleistocene epoch are all part of running this event.
The organizer here is thinking much wider than how incongruous the European anti-cutting device might look down a lens, they’ve got to think about what might happen if a giraffe tried to eat it.
The organizer confirmed further covert anti-cutting devices would be deployed following the recce, with videos sent to all of the teams in order for pacenotes to be adjusted. There’s nothing untoward in this, it happens on plenty of WRC rounds, including the last time out in Sardinia.