SS7 on Rally Portugal turned out to be a nightmare for Thierry Neuville, who buckled a wheel, and Elfyn Evans, who ran into Neuville’s dust cloud after the final split.
Evans had been on something of a charge, with a stage win on the cards. By the final split, he was still matching first on the road Seb Ogier’s time on a stage that seemed to buck the trend of the previous stages, where sweeping had been an expensive affair.
But then, thick dust hanging in the road that reduced visibility to zero. Even with pace notes, it was obvious there was trouble ahead; and pace notes don’t flag extra cautions to signal the presence of a limping Hyundai i20 looming out of the murk in the middle of a single track road on slight left.
The timing screen told the sorry tale, which I reimagined on my RallyDataJunkie page for the stage:
Looking at time differences to get from one split point to the next, Evans had been up at the start of the stage, though he had perhaps started slowing:
If we look at his pace (the time taken to drive 1km), which takes into account the distance travelled between split points, we see it was good mathcing Ogier over the first half of the stage, though was perhaps slowing in the third quarter:
Looking at the ultimate transit times recorded between split points, we see Evans led the the first two splits, but dropped time to split 3.
Was that just a blip, or would Evans have pick up the pace at the end? Ogier often finishes strong, but could Evans have taken the stage? We’ll never know…
But anyone looking simply at the times on the official timing screen half an hour or so after the end of the stage might also be misled, unless they understand the vaharies of rally timing…
Here’s what the timing screen looks like now:
And here’s what my take on it is:
Spot anything different compared to my original table?
Evans was (rightly) given a recalculated time, equivalent to Ogier’s.
No other drivers were affected, so the other times stand. But if reflow my data tables, the story is lost. And if I update pace tables to used the recalculated time, and other folk use those tables, they’re not right, at least in terms of the story they tell of Evans SS7.
Who know what would have happened in that final stretch?!
The next time I run my table data, the original story will be lost. My data structures can can’t coped with revised times… so a remnant of the data story will just have to suffice here…