Mikko Hirvonen has called on the sport’s bosses to reconsider the recce rules after being denied an additional pass through Rally de Portugal’s flooded roads last week.
Hirvonen was the only frontline driver to complete two passes through Ourique (SS3 / SS6) before flash flooding forced organisers to terminate Tuesday’s recce.
A revised Wednesday schedule enabled crews to complete their second pass, by which time the weather had improved significantly. Hirvonen requested an extra pass to offset the disadvantage of completing both runs in the storm, but that was refused.
“Everybody else was allowed to make the second pass on Wednesday after the rain,” said the M-Sport driver. “They saw the latest conditions and where the washaways and rocks were, which I didn’t have the chance to see in Tuesday’s rain.
“We had some words with the FIA which agreed we could have three passes so I could see the latest conditions, but the organisers said no.
“If conditions are extreme, organisers should change the recce schedule and we finish it after the bad weather. On some rallies it isn’t possible but if the time is there, we should do it. It’s rare that it’s so bad you can’t do a proper recce, but now we’ve seen that can happen,” added Hirvonen.
The Finn, who finished second in his Fiesta RS, said the issue didn’t affect his result, but stressed drivers should have up-to-date details on conditions to prevent surprises during the rally.
“There’s a safety issue as well that we should take care of. I don’t have the right solution but the most important thing now we don’t have safety crews is to access the latest information," added Hirvonen.
“It’s silly that sometimes it looks like we’re waiting for something to happen before we make these decisions, and nobody predicts beforehand what could be done better.
“After the recce we get little information from the stages about what has happened with the weather. We don’t know if there has been road washes or mud slides or where the water splashes are. There can be rocks which fall down the mountain and we have no idea where those places can be," he explained.
Hirvonen’s request was discussed during a team managers’ meeting, and a spokesman from organisers Automóvel Club de Portugal said the decision not to grant an extra pass was taken by clerk of the course Pedro Almeida.
Recce photograph courtesy of Andre Lavadinho.