January 20, 2017
Dying for a YouTube video.
A bad start for the 2017 Montecarlo Rally.
It was the debut of a new formula: faster, more exciting looking cars designed to put some shine on a series that has floundered of recent. The new cars are not like, but are designed to recall, the glorious and insane Group B cars from the 1980's.
On the very first Special Stage of the rally, Hyundai's Hayden Paddon hit a patch of black ice and slam into a rock wall, flipping over.
Paddon and his co-driver are fine, but a spectator on the road is struck and would later die.
Predictably there has been much handwringing about this. On the Axis Facebook page, accusation were thrown of "not respecting the motorsport community" for discussing the event.
Not respecting the motorsport community? Really?
So let's hear the testimony of an eyewitness, reported initially by the Belgian site DH
" We were just ten meters away on the special stage and had seen this guy putting his GoPro on the road and then sit just one meter away on the embankment.
We yelled at him not to stand there, we figured he would realize it was a bad place after one or two cars went by.
Paddon came by and slid sideways... the man was hit and thrown up the slope and fell down onto the road.
A fireman gave him CPR but it was clear right away there was little he could do. It took a long time for the ambulance to get there but it would not have made a difference.
It's sad, especially because people will say these cars are dangerous, like in the Group B era, and this has nothing to do with it. It was just the bad luck of a driver on a patch of black ice"
Ironically, the article was later edited to, you guessed it, blame the now faster more powerful 2017 WRC cars. Because you certainly can't blame the stupidity of a victim who chose to risk his life standing in an area forbidden by organizers and that simple logic should tell you is very dangerous.
"He was someone's son, husband, father". wailed some on the internet.
Well, most people are and I'm sorry to be harsh but I feel about the same level of sympathy as I do for those who get gored in Pamplona.
I do feel terrible for Hayden Paddon and for Team Hyundai who have zero fault here but will have to bear the brunt of another man's irresponsible behavior . I feel bad for WRC organizers who will be inevitably blamed for the 20 minute wait for the ambulance and for "not protecting the public".
Respecting the motorsport community means spectators, like drivers, have to use their brains take responsibility for there actions.
Pretending it's about anything else helps nobody.