Thursday, August 23, 2007

Put that thing away

I'm amazed there aren't more rally drivers wandering around with terrible speech impediments. Hardly a single WRC broadcast goes by without at least one shot of a driver with his tongue sticking out like a five-year-old trying to draw the space shuttle. All it takes is one unseen rock in the road to clamp those knashers down on the guy's poor tongue, and then he's having problems saying words that begin with "th" for the rest of his life.

The presence of champion tongue-wrangler Francois Duval at last week's Rally Deutschland was a bold reminder of this oddest of racing habits. Toni Gardemeister is another with a badly-controlled tongue, and Petter Solberg (better known for a simple "mouth-wide-open" expression) has been known to do it too.

The question for me is whether this is a uniquely rally-centric habit? Or is it just more obvious due to the preponderance of open-face helmets? Perhaps Lewis Hamilton is waggling his tongue like any other 18-year-old schoolboy does in his dreams - it's just we can't see it. Or maybe even the great Valentino Rossi engages in Duval-style tongue-robics. We'll never know.

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