Virtual chicanes could be taken into use on various national levels soon, maybe even on WRC events. This has already raised concerns for local farmers whose business is largely depending on hay bale construction for chicanes.
A Finnish chicane farmer Ari-Pekka Rilli told in an interview that he used to supply up to 40 hay bales per a Finnish championship rally. “They often use only public roads which are sickeningly fast so hay bale chicanes are needed”. Usually the bales are disposable, since someone usually hits the chicane and breaks the bales. “At the best places I can sell extra bales for replacements”.
Rilli also supplied Rally Finland largely in 2017 after FIA demanded the stages to be slowed down. “Those fast cars needed chicanes on almost every stage I made half of my yearly income from that single rally. I was sad to see them revert to slower roads the year after.”
Rilli would always help rally organizers on his tractor, carrying the bales onto the stages and putting them in position, also helping put them back to their place once knocked off. Another service in the package included fixing the road under the chicane, which would always get very rutted.
Now that slowing down the stages can be solved by virtual chicanes, Rilli’s services are no longer needed. “I’ve heard my colleagues in Great Britain, Germany and Czech Republic have had even bigger businesses in hay bale chicanes with the local rallies. This virtual chicane thing could lead to the whole global field of chicane farmers going bankrupt”.
Rilli sees no other option than re-educating himself. “Someone has to install the tracking devices anyway, or monitor the virtual chicane. Maybe I need to learn more about that”.
Cover photo by Alan / Flickr