Jari-Matti Latvala backs Rally Finland chicanes to slow 2017 WRCs
|By David Evans||Thursday, July 27th 2017, 08:12 GMT|
Three-time Rally Finland winner Jari-Matti Latvala has applauded the event's decision to slow the 2017 World Rally Cars with chicanes.
Autosport revealed earlier this year that Finland organisers had controversially added chicanes amid mixed messages over the speed of the new, faster-than-ever, WRC cars.
Rally Finland clerk of the course Kai Tarkiainen told Autosport average stage speeds could go as high as 140km/h (87mph) without chicanes.
Having simulated the Finland chicanes on Toyota's test stage, and given Sebastien Ogier's sixth-gear testing crash last week, Latvala backed the changes.
"With some of the big roads we are using, the chicanes are needed," he said.
"Without the chicanes, the average speeds would have been so high. I think Kai is right: we would have maybe 140km/h.
"The problem is, as we saw when Seb went off in testing, we are at such a [high] level now and with speed like that... well, put it this way: normally you won't be coming back with Rally2 the next day.
"The good thing that we saw from [Ogier's] crash was that the cars have good safety now.
"We saw a lot of speed from the cars in Poland on the last round, but the difference with Poland is that we are going through fields; maybe only 10% of that route is in the forest.
"Here in Finland, it's different. We have the ditch at the side of the road and then we have the trees."
Straw bales have been used to create the chicanes.
"Putting a chicane in a stage to lower the average speed won't make a stage safer," Tarkiainen explained.
"We've put the chicanes in just to wake the drivers up in certain places.
"If the cars have been flat-out for a long time then we might have put a chicane in just to get them on the brakes a little bit earlier.
"It's easy to become 'speed blind' and this is what we want to avoid."
Asked whether he thought his rally could still beat its own 126km/h (79mph) record from last year for the fastest WRC round ever, Tarkiainen said: "I don't know what to expect now. Without the chicanes, we would probably have seen 130km/h or 140km/h.
"If you look at the averages Thierry Neuville managed on the AutoGlym Rally a couple of weeks ago, they were around 118km/h and 126km/h.
"That said, the roads on that event are a bit twistier and probably not quite as wide and fast as some of ours.
"I'm completely relaxed about the speed for Rally Finland - [FIA safety delegate] Michele Mouton has been around and looked at the route. She's happy and we've done everything we agreed to do."