JANUARY 22, 2002
Oh, what a pickle!
THE organizational mess on the Monte Carlo has created a rather alarming precedent in motor racing jurisprudence - a complicated enough business as it is. The stewards of the Monte Carlo Rally penalized Sebastien Loeb's Citroen for an illegal tire change. The team came up with the absurd defence that it did not know the rules because it was a new team and a new rule. Amazingly the stewards accepted this and ruled that the two-minute penalty should be suspended.
Tommi Makinen who was second in his 555 Prodrive Subaru backed off on the last day because he knew he only had to finish within two minutes of Loeb to win the rally and was appalled to find that the stewards had made their decision. Loeb was thus presented with the trophy while in normal circumstances a penalty would have been applied and the result appealed afterwards.
Now however the FIA International Court of Appeal will have to unravel this unsightly pickle.
It is not the first time that an international event has been left in a complete mess by the stewards but it certainly the first time in memory that a team is appealing to keep a win rather than appealing to regain victory.
Makinen, who would have become the first man to win four consecutive Monte Carlos and would have become the most successful rally driver in history in terms of WRC wins, was not impressed...
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