Drivers kick up at the dust

LEADING drivers in this week's Repco Rally Australia have questioned the safety of the course following two days of reconnaissance in the Tweed and Kyogle shires.

At the pre-event press conference at Kingscliff yesterday afternoon, Norwegian Henning Solberg, who is fifth in the drivers' championship, said dust could prove the most dangerous aspect of the rally.

Hoping to avoid the problems of dust obscuring visibility, Solberg said he had asked organisers to consider increasing the time between competitors from two to three minutes.

“I have to say and I said the same after the reccy (reconnaissance) that the stages in the forests are going to be dangerous,” he said.

“If the dust stays in the wind it is going to be dangerous. I have tried to have this moved before and they said no, so maybe we'll see what happened in Sardinia.

“I hope they can think about it because it's the stage like today that will be a problem but the stage in the forests that will be a big, big problem.”

Five-time world champion Sebastien Loeb agreed with Solberg.

In a light-hearted moment, drivers' championship leader Mikko Hirvonen disagreed with a smile on his face because he will be the first man on the competitive stages.

The decision about the time delay is made by organisers and not the stewards of the course and there are obvious repercussions with scheduling if an extra minute is added between cars which are contesting 344km of the 1733km rally over special stages.

Rally Australia chairman Garry Connelly said he was aware of the request but did not commit to a decision.

“You can never predict the weather so we'll see what happens,” he said.



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