World Rally Championship driver Lorenzo Bertelli has withdrawn from competing in the final two days at Rally Sweden on personal reasons and explains his safety fears and the lack of consideration from officials.
The FWRT s.r.l WRC driver has withdrawn his entry from Rally Sweden despite ending SS9 on opening day in tenth place overall. The Italian 27-year-old has apologised to fans for opting out of the event but feels the snow rally in parts is unsafe for competitors but is angry that officials haven't listened to the drivers.
It was feared Rally Sweden would have to be cancelled due to the warm temperatures across Scandinavia melting huge amounts of ice and snow. A total of nine stages have been binned, eight pre-rally and one more during the event, due to the adverse conditions while a threatened WRC driver boycott failed to materialise.
However, Bertelli has taken the option to withdraw himself from Rally Sweden and gave his reasons in a statement via his Twitter page from Karlstad.
“In the past few days a lot has been said and discussed, but little had changed,” Bertelli said in his statement. “I believe the organisers did a great job for holding this event with a safety not lower than the one seen in other events of the championship. The reason for my withdrawal may be unpopular, but I hope it will serve to highlight what I personally believe is a shortage within the sport.
“My hope is that in the future the crews will be taken into a greater consideration. It seems to me that rally is one of the few motorsport disciplines (or maybe even the only one) that doesn't provide an official representation of the drivers within their activity.
“I hope my words are not in vain and that most of my colleagues will agree with them, even if I respect their choices. I am sorry to involve the fans, sponsors and teams who, as I do, would like to see me on the special stages.”
Rally Sweden continues today with Sebastien Ogier aiming to hold on to his half a minute advantage on Hyundai's Hayden Paddon. Interestingly, Ogier said on Wednesday he felt the event should have been cancelled due to the poor road conditions.