Time Penalties – The Hot Topic
After the commotion at the recent Wellington round of the North Island Champs, time penalties have become the hot topic for discussion. For what it’s worth here’s what I think.
I think the system is the best solution we’ve ever come up with. I think it’s fair for everyone and stops people who have had a problem during the day being excluded from the results. It also stops people mucking about and taking their time for no reason. The alternatives weren’t great and always a bit unclear. Pulling the sections at a set time seemed ambiguous, was it starting at section 1 or all the sections at once? How do we get the section at the end of the valley to pull his pegs at the right time? Do we let the riders in the queue ride or send them away? No, my feeling is this is the best way. It’s the same for everyone and it’s very clear what the penalties are for not finishing on time.
I think there are a couple of other issues that we should be addressing. Firstly this obsession with trying to finish a trial in the middle of the day and then there’s this seeming acceptance that, even though it’s contrary to the rules, it’s O.K. to “take a five” without attempting the section.
I don’t know why it is, and we see it at our club trials as well, but everyone seems so keen to get finished packed up and go home. At Wellington the organisers wanted to finish at 2.30pm. Why?? I know some people have to travel a long way home but that’s not an issue for the organisers; that’s for the individual to worry about. The event shouldn’t be tailored to suit the travel arrangements of a few. I doubt we’ll ever see the All Blacks walking off the field 20mins into the second half because they’ve got a plane to catch. I think we go out for the day and not ½ a day. A 3.30/4.00 finish should be the norm. I don’t think riders will stay away from an event because it finishes 1 hour later.
Now, this “taking a five” thing. I am against any rule change to make this within the rules. The rules are quite clear; if you don’t attempt the section it’s a 10 point penalty. To change that rule goes against the spirit and objective of the sport. That is “To attempt to ride your motorcycle through a section without footing”. Any rule change that would allow you do anything else is contrary to that basis. What reward would there be for actually attempting the section? And in some cases why would you bother risking damage or injury or wasting energy when you could just opt out completely? No I believe that we should be enforcing that rule not removing it. That means (if you want to “take a five”) sitting in the queue and putting your front wheel through the start pegs. If you’ve had an accident or breakdown and can’t finish then you should get a DNF. If you’re running late then you should get time penalties. If there’s a big queue at a section (like in Wellington) then you have to sit there just like everyone else or you could “take a Ten”. If you do anything else you’re cheating someone else out of their correct placing. And remember if everyone waited in line as you’re supposed to the time penalties become less of a problem because everyone will have some, not just the few that observed the rules. Just a foot note to that we should also bear in mind that a trial is supposed to be a reliability test as well as a test of skill, so if you do breakdown well........ that’s trials.
As far as riding sections in order, well I’m a bit undecided. It does seem a bit pedantic to me but if we think back to the Wellington experience would it really have helped to remove that rule. Even if we all skipped section 7 and went and rode the rest eventually we were all going to end up back there in a queue (probably a bigger one). I rode in the Australian champs in Sydney a few years back where they don’t have to ride sections in order and to be honest it made no difference, there were still queues at the tougher sections.
It’s a shame the Wellington round ended under a bit of a cloud because it was really a great event. The Ixion club should be proud of the great work they did in very trying conditions.
Well that’s my 20 cents worth, take more time and stop bending the rules so everyone finishes. I know other people have different views, I’ve seen a few varying ones already, so now’s your chance to have your say, let us hear your opinion. Post your comments here.