Bike stars hit out at “harmful” new tyre guidelines
In response to the deaths of riders Paulo Goncalves and Edwin Straver on this yr’s first Saudi Arabian version, quite a lot of adjustments have been made to enhance security by rally organiser Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO) forward of this January’s occasion.
Probably the most controversial change is the transfer to restrict the riders to solely six rear tyres for the 12-day rally in an ostensible bid to encourage riders to decelerate.
KTM rider and 2018 champion Matthias Walkner thinks that the change is not going to have the specified impact, and paradoxically will serve to extend the dangers riders should take.
“It is a good strategy to indicate that they need to change issues, however there hasn’t been a lot reflection,” Walkner instructed Motorsport.com. “Should you say that this regulation is to revive the journey half and make the Dakar extra thrilling, it is a good strategy.
“However in the event you say that it’s to make it safer – which was the concept – and to scale back speeds, then it’s full nonsense. It will not make us decelerate, at most it’s going to decrease the typical by 3km/h.
“We at all times go to the restrict and the extra the tyre is worn, the tougher it will likely be to manage the bike. The nice factor is that right here [in Saudi Arabia] there’s lots of sand and this is not going to punish the tyre a lot. However folks shouldn’t make these choices with out us.”
Honda’s reigning champion Ricky Brabec added: “I don’t agree with the brand new guidelines, I feel they’re extra harmful and worse than earlier than. If we’ve six rear tyres for 12 days of the race, it’s important to go along with broken tyres with out having the ability to decelerate.
“That is why I feel it is loopy, and much more so in Saudi Arabia, the place we have been final yr and noticed how briskly we went in that open desert. I do not assume, it doesn’t matter what they fight, that we are going to decelerate in competitors.”
#1 Monster Vitality Honda Staff: Ricky Brabec
Photograph by: Monster Vitality Honda Staff
Walkner was additionally important of one other change to the foundations for the bike riders, who will not be capable to perform minor repairs to their machines through the 15-minute refuelling window and can as a substitute have to attend till afterwards to take action.
“That is one other nonsense like that of the tyres,” stated the Austrian. “Everybody ought to have the option use these quarter-hour as they want.
“It is harmful which you could’t do something now till after these quarter-hour. Now you possibly can solely restore one thing shortly, as a result of each second counts and also you attempt to not lose too many.”
Nonetheless, one innovation that has had a constructive response is the transfer to solely give riders entry to the roadbook for the day’s stage 20 minutes previous to the beginning for all phases.
This practice was trialled on six days of this year’s event, and the roadbooks themselves have been made extra detailed to compensate for the truth that crews might not add their very own notes the evening earlier than a stage, as had been widespread observe earlier than.
“I see the likelihood that the supply of the roadbook within the morning [prior to the stage] will equalise issues, which I like,” Honda rider Kevin Benavides instructed Motorsport.com. “I see it as constructive; it’s going to make us go a bit slower.”
Benavides additionally famous that the now-mandatory use of an airbag vest to guard from accidents within the occasion of a crash shall be “essential for the security of the rider”, however Walkner warned that it might make riders extra liable to affected by dehydration.
“The airbag is an efficient factor, though it comes a yr too quickly,” he stated. “I am undecided if it solely presents benefits. I hope we can’t have issues with dehydration, since you sweat rather a lot with this plastic waistcoat for 4 or 5 hours within the desert.”