Originally Posted by too old
Not talking from direct experience, but from contact with someone who has, I do believe that it's a tough call both ways.
Not an issue in the Dakar of course as when you're out you're out, but a good working example of the situation, but for a slightly differant reason was in this years Sardegna rally.
Sam was riding his 450 r for Honda Europe in a rally where most were on more agile enduro's. For a reason only known to the organisers he was numbered in the 80's.
Now a rider like Sam, or any with aspirations and ability to win, is going to go for it, whether in contention or not (having picked up penalty but continuing) it 's simply part of their competitive make up and DNA.
Sam said trying to be competitive with 80 or so slower riders in front of him on a track like Sardegna was dam near suicidal and he was close to disaster on several occasions and did not escape unscathed! - but is he expected not to compete, because of the dangers of slower riders?
To say dust is not dangerous also, we only have to consider the Kemal accident last month. Sam was visibly shaken, both from the incident, but also what he went through in Sardegna!
Ok, not an easy situation, but unless you are going to run the Dakar principle, which you can't as it would kill the sport then it seems to make good sense to me?
You may or not agree, but I thought it good to quote a live example (if not exact, but demonstrating the principles and dangers) for reseeding that demonstrates the benefits.
Of course it can work the other way - 18 months ago in Sam's first rally, his engines blew on day 3 - day 4 he started at the back, didn't really have to navigate, won the stage and was nearly half an hour quicker than Coma, Fretgne sated " he went passed me like he was riding motocross" funny at the time and it was in the big dunes with space and no real dust, but such advantages are far less than those that disadvantage.
Thanks for your insight on this and sharing Sam's experiences.
I think its good to talk about this stuff.
I have to agree with you that a case for seeding make a lot of sense on the Sardegna, which consists of narrow twisty tracks making passing a bit of a mare no matter who might be in front. After all its more of a long enduro with navigation than a rally. But this is not the case in most desert rallies, and there is normally a lot of space to pass others, although at time it is not safe to do so because of poor visibility.
The tragic Kemal incident is also a good point highlighting the dangers in the sport. Unusually three bikes were involved, and this kind of thing has happened before with cars riding into riders. But in this example, hard as it may be to say it, I believe it was more a case of a relatively inexperienced, young guy charging into thick dust at pace. To me that tragedy was the result of a parties being in the wrong place, wrong time, no visibility and definitely not a good time to be riding at full gas.
All incidents always come down to two common criteria: An unsafe act, and an unsafe condition. Put the two together and you have a recipe for disaster. Riding conditions are often unsafe, dust being the biggest thing, and passing other riders another to mention just two. If you don't moderate your riding style to suit unsafe conditions what the ride is doing is adding the unsafe act to the mix. Then it is just a matter of time, or luck before a crash happens, even if your name is Cyril Despres. But these things don't happen to the front guys, not because they are all riding fast, but because they know what happens if they take risks. Younger guys tend to take more risks, because they have nothing to lose (in their world views), and they have more testosterone. That's also why a guy who is fast but does not have a lot rallies under the belt is not usually a favorite. Riding a rally at 100% of ones ability is like playing in a casino for a week - You're not going to come out richer, and the longer you ride taking risks the more likely you will not finish. Its also why the Dakar has the highest DNF rate - because exposure to risk is the highest.
Kuba Przygonski who is one of the fastest guys out there gave me some really good advice a couple of years ago: "Neil, there is one thing you must remember, if there is dust and you can't see, then slow down or you will crash. I always slow down and stop sometimes if necessary if there is dust, because the risk is just too high. Most of the fast guys ride like this." Armed with this knowledge I embarked on my first rally and thankfully avoided five high risk situations in thick dust where I definitely would have crashed otherwise. Interestingly on the same rally, I saw Ze Helio crash twice, once I came up on him and he was still bouncing! On day 5, Ludo fractured his collar bone in five places. All of these examples were a result of guys pushing the envelope past the limit and riding in thick dust. I remember Ludo, in his retrospective description of the incident mentioned that he knew he should have been backing off, but instead he attacked in the dust. Big respect to him for admitting his mistake
- I know it certainly changed the way I ride, and I am sure Sam has changed his approach too after what he has seen this past year.
So I don't believe it has anything to do with seeding, but it has it everything to do with the way you ride. Being where I was I had the top Brazilian guys pass me everyday, but most of them did so when it was safe. Once we stopped at a refueling, and one of them asked me if I could wait for him to get past because he had been in my dust for about 20km trying to get past, but never getting close enough. Of course I let him go, pleased that I was riding fast enough to make it difficult for him.
For us to now regulate who goes where in order to reduce the risk is a cop out, because everyone knows what they are doing is dangerous, going into a rally - it comes with the territory. Everyone going into a rally can, to a larger degree manage the risk to a degree that they feel comfortable with.
To come back to the point, I still cant agree that seeding should take place to put the fast guys in front, except in a race like Sardegna, where overtaking is virtually impossible to do. Everyone should deserve to be where they are in the ranking each day based on performance, and everyone needs to use their own initiative to overtake when it safe to do so. Neither should a rally be classed like we had in the Sertoes was in 2010 with FIM riders up front because not all FIM riders are bullets, and don't deserve to be there, regardless of the status.
Although it was nice to be up front it took a bit away from me, because I knew I did not deserve to be there.