Sunday | 04 Jan 2015

New for 2015: Running order revamp

Next in our list of reasons to be excited about 2015 is a bold new solution to the thorny subject of stage starting orders:

2: Running order revamp
The order in which drivers start WRC stages is controversial because on many rallies the first through will be at a disadvantage. This is most noticeable on loose, dry gravel events, where the first competitor - or competitors - will encounter more slippery conditions than those following. On the other hand, it can be advantageous to be first through some roads - damp asphalt for example - where the surface will tend to get dirtier with each passing car.

So, what is the fairest way to decide who should go first? Over the years the FIA has tried numerous different systems, from letting the drivers choose their own positions depending on their performance at Shakedown, to the 2014 system of drivers’ championship order for day one and then reverse rally classification order from then on. This year the FIA has revamped the system again so that seeded drivers will start Friday and Saturday’s stages in championship order and only Sunday’s final day in reverse classification order.

It’s a system that will give the championship leader the worst conditions for the majority of some rallies. Understandably, this hasn’t gone down well with Sebastien Ogier, but others argue that the leading driver should be best able to overcome any disadvantage and this is the best way to level the playing field. Is it a fairer system and will it lead to closer battles? We’ll see soon - but for the full effect we will have to wait until Rally Guanajuato Mexico in March.

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