The FIA has promised to take action about artificial jumps on World Rally Championship following the controversy on Rally Mexico last week. The opening Guanajuato spectator stage was cancelled after a metal jump was damaged and started to throw the cars into the air at unexpected angles.
FIA rally director Yves Matton said the incident had put a new focus on artificial jumps.
“We’ll move this to the top of the list,” Matton told Motorsport.com. “I cannot accept what we saw in this stage.
“The Safety Action List is not mandatory, but we will work to make sure we have a standardised jump for the future.”
Rally Mexico director Patrick Suberville said the choice of metal used for some replacement parts in the jump had led to the problem.
“It was the same specification as the jump we use in the street stage in Leon and we used in Mexico City,” he said.
“During the transport of the jump some plates were removed, so we had to replace those plates locally in Leon. The problem is that the metal we used for the plates was thinner than what we normally use.
“The plates bent after the first few cars and this started to cause the cars to jump sideways and in weird ways.”
The organisers did not inform the FIA of the plan to use the jump, but WRC safety delegate Michele Mouton pointed out the safety list is “a recommendation, it’s not a regulation”.
WRC drivers have been strongly critical of the use of artificial jumps.
“These jumps that are shaped like a tent, they are stupid – especially when you put it on the straight and you approach in fifth gear,” said champion Sebastien Ogier. “That’s ridiculous. I hope some change is coming before we have a drama.”
Toyota’s Kris Meeke said they were a severe safety issue.
“You’re hitting them in third gear and it can so easily roll a car and destroy it – and potentially kill people,” he told Motorsport.com.
“What image is that to portray? This is going to end in a bad story. It’s just adding a totally unnecessary element of risk in an area surrounded by spectators. Does that stage need it? No. Do we need it? No.”
Matton dismissed drivers’ calls for an outright ban on artificial jumps.
“No. At the end of the day, it’s not for the drivers to decide the regulations,” he said.
“When these jumps are put in the superspecial stages in the right way, it’s nice to have the jump as part of the show. We have seen, for example, in Portugal that the jumps can be done perfectly well.”
Mouton agreed, saying that it was up to drivers to judge the appropriate speed at which to take the jumps.
“The jump is not ridiculous, it’s the speed,” she said. “I’m sorry, but they have to lift – the problem is that they want to go flat out everywhere.”