The threat to the Wales Rally GB has been rumbling away these last few weeks, following news that Neath magistrates convicted 17 rally drivers of speeding on public roads during the 2002 event - something the FIA has now taken an interest in, declaring that this action must "indicate that this is an exceptionally dangerous location for a rally". Last Friday we asked for your comments on this and the fact the event could be downgraded to a non-points scoring event. Here then are your responses...


"In my opinion the Rally GB is one of the most spectacular events on the calendar, it must not be allowed to die or diminish in its importance. It's got to be classed as the home of rallying and is a real test of skill, with stages being the most spectacular in the WRC. Keep the Rally GB a championship event."
Mark Abbot-Cole (50) - UK

"Having been to Rally GB for the last three years, I feel that the organisers and police have managed to kill a lot of the fun surrounding the rally. The current format of 'planned days' means that you can only see two forest stages per day and without any choice. The cost of the tickets is also exorbitant, and if your stage is cancelled you have no alternative stage to watch.

"In past years, half of the fun was getting in your car, deciding where to go and how to get there. My only experience of an overseas rally was Finland in 2002 when nearly 500,000 people descended on the forests to watch rallying. For 50 Euros, you could watch whatever stage you wanted, and in the three days that we drove around Finland, we probably saw five police cars and were caught up in only one bad traffic-jam!

"Last year's [2002] police presence in Wales was ridiculous and everywhere you went there were [often hidden] police vans filming you. I'm sure that the announcement of the court date involving the 17 drivers was purely publicised to slow the fans down, but I also would bet that many fans stayed away because of their experience in 2002 and the attitude shown by the Welsh Police.

"Losing the Wales Rally of GB in 2004 would be a huge blow to South Wales but it may also be the wake-up call that is needed to put the benefits it can bring into perspective."
David Connell (30) - UK

"I believe that as professional drivers they should not only be able to drive as fast as possible on the special stages but they should be able to drive at any specified speed. I see the parts of a rally that are between the special stages as much as part of the test of driver skill as the special stages themselves and so I would expect a rally driver to drive according to the law of the country in which they are driving.

"In addition, they should drive within the law anyway because they are driving on public roads whilst they are open to the public and so we are all at risk should anything happen.

"Rally GB should remain a WRC event but I would like to see the police of the other countries enforcing their road laws between the special stages."
Paul Churchley (43) - London, England

"My name is Michael Langley, I am British, but living in the USA, 61 years old and a former club and national Rally driver.

"It would be interesting to know how many none Rally drivers were charged and convicted for speeding on the same public roads. I have a feeling this is again a case of the British police being the British police when such an event is taking place.

"There are few among us that don't stray over the posted speed limit from time to time, including the police. Rally drivers are no exception, it happens! Making a big issue, like this has turned out to be is a travesty and a waste of public money.

"I certainly hope the FIA find in favour of keeping the rally as is. The police, well, now they've showed who's the boss, maybe they will move onto other things, like fighting crime!"
Michael Langley (61)

"The event brings plenty of money into the area economy. It seems as though the township is looking for a way to bring even more in by ticketing these drivers. I mean, it's easy money right? The driver isn't going to fight it, the team is going to pay for the fine, and the township brings in a few more pounds. Well, if they're going to be greedy about things instead of realising what an important event in terms of booting the local economy this rally is then by all means I'd like to see it become a non-points event or even better, flat out cancelled. Of course, everything is within reason. If a driver is only over 10-20km/h then the ticket should be overlooked. If he's nearly doubling the posted limit, then by all means, ticket him. Fans are a different story. Fans are attending an event held on the townships property. All laws should apply. If you want to get to the next leg in time for a good spot you have to sacrifice and leave a bit early to get there. Just my two cents."
Tone Barbaccio (31) - USA

"A number of commentators seem to be saying that it's okay for people to break the law if they're a rally driver driving between stages and seem to have forgotten that this was not actually part of the timed rally stages.

"If the police weren't there trying to enforce the speed limits that are there for the safety of everyone and someone was injured or killed would they still be saying its okay for people to speed or would they be criticising the police for failing to take action to curb speeds?"
Stephen Wray (28) - England

"If road safety is a matter of the utmost importance to the FIA, then why are they not investigating why top class drivers are driving, outside of the special stages, with absolute disregard for the speed limits and other safety features of local roads. That so many were found guilty is clear evidence of their absolute disregard for local people, animals and other vehicles.

"I suppose being cocooned in a WRC car must make one feel invincible. Yet they must realise that if one of those things hit a normal car at speed, it would destroy the normal car and occupants without hardly any damage at all being sustained by the WRC car and its occupants. It might look the same as a road car but it most certainly is not!

"WRC competitors should be told by the FIA that if they are caught ignoring local driving laws then they will not be allowed to compete in the next event. They will soon stop doing it then, after all they claim to be the best drivers in the world."
Stan Aaron (39) - Britain

"I hope the FIA does take the Rally away from Wales. Are the cops there nuts? What a ridiculous waste of energy and loss of good will. I guess I'll never go back to Wales for fear of being stopped too. Come to North America! We will find a great rally with incredible fan support."
Stuart Berwick (44) - dual citizen, UK and USA

"I think that removing the Rally of Great Britain from the WRC calendar is a silly idea. If anything, it is one of the safest venues on the calendar, when compared to any of the others. It would be a shame to see it go, as there is a huge following who can't afford to travel the world to see this exciting sport."
Alex A McNab (30) - Bedfordshire

"Surely with all the experience and skill that these so called "Worlds Best Drivers" have, they wouldn't make mistakes like speeding between stages. They only have themselves to blame for breaking the law. This shouldn't result in the FIA taking the Rally GB away from Cardiff just because some of the professional drivers we're caught breaking the law, it is still a great spectacle to visit and a huge enjoyment for the fans.

"Also I would like to wish Richard Burns the best in his treatment and recovery."
Rob Pyrke - England

"The news that the Rally GB could be downgraded due to the amount of drivers prosecuted for excess speed does not show how dangerous the location is. This only goes to show how much the UK motorist is persecuted by moneymaking speed cameras - and how rally fans that attend such events are exploited. It is sickening to think the moneymaking cameras could actually take revenue away from the UK economy due to the cancellation of a major revenue generating sports event. Ban the cameras from all but accident black spots and let the motorist breathe again."
Gary English (35) - Northern Ireland, UK

"Having spent three hours travelling from the special stage at Crychan to Resolfen on the Saturday [of the event], I'm amazed the drivers got the chance to speed! Parking at Resolfen also left a lot to be desired which just added to the frustration."
Martin Wright (46) - Britain

"It's typical, only in the UK would you get something like this happening. The police aren't interested in catching criminals or putting 'bobbies' on the beat, all they want is easy prey - motorists. Why? They can sit in their warm V70 Volvo have a cup of tea, listen to the radio and just point their speed camera out of the window (and get paid ?30k per year). We don't deserve the WRC coming to the UK, if we lost that it would be a great shame, but then again what do you expect."
Kevin James - Carmarthenshire, Wales, UK

"It's not been Rally GB for years now - I lost interest some time ago when it became centred around a few "spectator special stages" and a few Welsh forests. There are probably other motives for withdrawing the event from the calendar - the speeding offences are just a convenient vehicle for the media to latch on to. The organisers should try changing the route back to more of what it used to be in the RAC Rally days, when it was a true test of endurance for both machines and crews - the attendance was always massive, maybe we need to embrace the fact that short term disruption to traffic and travel is offset by the business boost to off-season hotels and other spin offs."

J P Tay Taylor

"I think this is absurd.

"These are professional drivers in fabulously maintained cars with limits so far above those of the typical driver/car combination that it is hard to compare the two. If a given 40-limit, 50-limit or 70-limit is acceptable for a little old lady driving her 15 year old Lada, the authorities need to determine what their objective is in applying the same limits to people like Petter Solberg, Colin McRae et al.

"Similarly, the local Police's decision to stop Marcus Gronholm [this year] because of a broken wheel is the kind of thing that would have made sense if it had been a normal driver but it wasn't - and Marcus was well aware of the limitations that the damage imposed on the car's driveability and his ability to control it.

"The problem here is with the local police's lack of judgement in issuing tickets, not the drivers."

Roderick Williams (44) - Britain



Crash.net would like to thank all those people that replied to our "...have your say" story as, without them, this article would not be possible.
Crash.net would also like to reassure people that those replying to us via our views@crash.net email will NOT have their details passed on to any third party or added to any mailing list.

 

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