Peugeot Sport director Bruno Famin says a change in the Dakar regulations banning maps in the cars is “unsportsmanlike” and a ploy to derail the pre-event favourites.
While previously only prohibited from carrying ‘photographic satellite maps’, a change in the road book regulations has banned ‘any kind of maps whatever the physical support (paper, electronic, or on any other type of support)’.
That means crews will be forced to rely solely on the roadbook itself and the event-supplied GPS system.
There has also been a change in the regulations for smart phones, with ASO-listed ‘Elite pilots’ not allowed to carry any form of phone, tablet, or GPS watch apart from a satellite phone for emergencies.
Being forced to scale back its high-tech navigation systems hasn’t gone down well at Peugeot Sport, and Famin is certain the rule has been introduced to add to the randomness of the result and hobble the frontrunners.
“I do not take this change of regulations as something personal at all. But I take it as something unsportsmanlike, totally,” he said.
“They unfortunately want things to happen. Anything. They do not want the same leader the first day, [they want] that there is an opportunity for someone to get lost. For me, that’s not sport.
“In any category, who wins is the most punished. There are many categories like that. It is normal.
“But the subject of the maps I do not understand. It makes the Dakar turn into a lottery. There are planets that you will never be able to [get] aligned.
“I think that is what they are looking for, an unexpected result. It’s the only way I can understand their decision.”
Navigation ‘part of the game’
According to Dakar sport director Marc Coma, the change isn’t directed at Peugeot. Rather, it’s an opportunity to ensure that high-tech systems don’t take the element of navigation out of the event.
“Lately, professional teams came to have a map detail that helped them a lot in navigation, and since my arrival at the sporting direction of the race, my battle point has always been to fight because navigation was part of the game,” he told sportseconds.com.
“It is not directed to anyone. For me, the teams have to have the same elements: a Trip Master, the GPS and the roadbook that we give them. With these three elements they have to be able to orient themselves.
“The objective really is that navigation is important and that the driver and the team that can read the roadbook better, have their reward. And that everyone has the same elements.”
Coma also played down fears that non-Elite crews, still able to use smart phones provided they aren’t loaded with additional maps, will have an advantage: “I do not think that this is going to make a private team go ahead, not at all, because as far as I know, private teams do not devote efforts to having detailed maps.”
Peugeot is seemingly alone in its disappointment over the regulation change, with representatives from both Mini and Toyota telling Motorsport.com that they agree with the map ban.
Alex Haro, Mini driver Nani Roma’s co-driver, said: “[Peugeot] had a system especially if they were lost to find themselves easier with the coordinates. I think we’re all alike now.
“Basically you have to try not to [get lost], that would be the strategy. We have our things, but little more than being very precise with the road book.”
Toyota team manager Glyn Hall added: “[It is] more fair for everybody and it will let the amateurs get closer to the factory teams. And it makes it more level for the top teams.
“I understand Peugeot is unhappy because they spent so much on making the maps, which I think it was not fair. We should make the sport more accessible to drivers who make the sport viable in the future.”