The revised route for this week’s Rally Germany has been labelled as ‘dull’ and ‘boring’ by WRC crews.
The organisers of the event moved south after Saarbrucken outbid the event’s traditional host city of Trier. But the move has forced revisions to the route, which haven’t found favour with the leading drivers and co-drivers.
Rally Germany retains its format of using three distinct road types in the vineyards, the Baumholder military roads and the Saarland country lanes – and it’s the latter which have caused significant disquiet.
One leading driver said: “I don’t understand these rallies. They have changed the whole nature of this event.
"It was really one of the greats before, but this time it’s really boring. It’s just straight all of the time, straight and then a nearly straight corner. What’s the point in this? It’s, for me, quite dull.”
Hayden Paddon’s co-driver Seb Marshall admitted he could see the rally being all-but decided after the second run of the Baumholder stages on Saturday.
“We have the vineyards on Friday,” he said, “and, love them or loathe them, they have a real character to them. On Saturday, obviously it’s Panzerplatte and we all know what a huge challenge that is.
"But that stages after that on Saturday and Sunday are all quite quick; certainly it’s going to be hard to make a lot of time in those stages.
“The difference could come from the car, with a strong engine and good aero working really well – then it comes down to whose car sticks the best and gives enough confidence to keep the speed through the corners with a ‘flat maybe’ attached to them.”
Citroen star Craig Breen agreed, with his concern coming with the six-mile Wadern-Weiskirchen superspecial, used three three times on Friday.
Breen told Motorsport.com: “I understand why the organisers have included the stage, it makes sense to bring the people in, but we’re doing a couple of laps of this stage and we’re doing it three times during the day.
"In between us going in there, the organisers are going to be doing VIP runs on that road – by the time it’s finished there could have been as many as 600 cars passing. If it rains, it’ll be a nightmare – you can cut so, so much.”
Rain is forecast for the opening day on Friday and Breen said wet weather will make a real difference.
“It would give [Thierry] Neuville a real advantage, a huge advantage,” he said. “There’s so much scope to cut corners, it’ll be a real mess the further down the field you go.
"It’s fair to say, it’s not the best route this time around. Once we get away from the vineyards and Baumholder and into the country roads, it’s not so interesting – we’ve lost a lot of character of the rally.”