The photo above was shared by Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team driver Khalid Al Qassimi (UAE), after he and (co-driver) Chris Patterson (GBR) experienced a minor setback in their 2014 Rally Italia Sardegna bid. According to Al Qassimi, the first (of two) loop of the first day of their Sardinian reconnaissance mission was a dusty one, obscuring (potential) dangers while making note-taking a bit difficult. On the second loop, while looking for effective cuts (which can add up and have position-boosting results), they found one that was not so effective, landing the pair in what appears to be a crater, created just for alien conspiracy theorists, and ending their lovely little recce run for the day.
So, you may be wondering how on earth could this (possibly) be a sign of success? And, why are we so stupid?
Well, to answer the second question, you’re stupid. Stupidhead.
As for the first question, for years, we have stood by the theory that early disasters are just getting the inevitable out of the way. Okay, well, crashes may not be (completely) inevitable. But, the odds of a car, running into trouble of some sort at some point between pre-event testing and the podium are pretty favorable. So, from a cosmic standpoint, it just seems logical that, like lightning striking the exact (same) place twice, the odds of something going hideously wrong when it (really) matters should decrease with an early incident. Plus, there is the determination factor. The fresher the memory of crashing is in the mind of a driver (and co-driver), the more determined they will be to avoid a repeat. A take on the basic concept of fear as a motivator. Of course, these are (only) theories, based on optimism more than anything. And, it does not (completely) cover potential time (and, in turn, points) lost to early retirements in rallies. Although, history does provide plenty of evidence of tremendous comebacks (again, that resulting determination, but combined with a nothing-to-lose/everything-to-gain attitude). But, it is a nice thought, a happy thought, going out into the WRC universe, is it not?
For Al Qassimi and Patterson, this unexpected detour (during recce) translates to having been there and done that. Ideally, things can (only) get better for them. They have (quite literally) hit a low. And, like the bouncy balls humans are, they will bounce (back) up. The simple physics of being, really. Should another obstacle get in their way as they take the Sardinian stages, they will be prepared, as it will not be anything they have not seen and dealt with (before).
All that said, the best of luck to Al Qassimi, Patterson, and every (other) competitor as they take on the infamous Italian classic. Try to stay on the roads. But, should you find yourself with a setback, just remember the bouncy balls.
(Let’s face it, rally is all about big balls, isn’t it?)