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Some new information from WRC Corsica 1986 accident


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#1 The Kanisteri

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Posted 22 April 2013 - 07:35

Year 1986, 2nd May.
B group Lancia Delta S4 driven by Henri Toivonen and Sergio Cresto never finished days special stage 2. Before stage, Henri gave little interview with bad flu that it's madness to drive these cars in these roads and for so long. Brains doesn't match speed of these monsters. There was seen huge black smoke from route, but no race marshalls were close to spot. At accident zone there was no skidmarks of braking os sliding and car break down from mountanous road with no railing. Reason for accident has been mystery for people.

Harri Toivonen, Henri's little brother, recently revealed in YLE interview (22 April 2013) (source: http://yle.fi/urheil..._elossa/6589427 )
from trustworth source floor of Lancia was so thin and weak that accelerator went through floor and jammed. It's very frightening thing to happen when you are driving serpentine road with nearly 1000 horsepower B-Group monster.

Car was totally destroyed due fuel tank explosion and it was said Henri and co-driver Sergio Cresto died instantly in car. However, Harri met recently Sergio Cresto's mother and sister who revealed him that body of Henri was found outside of the car and team mechanic confirms this. So by conclusion, Henri might have survived from crash but trying to save co-driver from wreck cost his life as well.

B-group cars summed up lot of dangerous accidents during their short era and Tour de Corse 1986 accident was final nail into coffin and B-group cars were banned from WRC after the season. Accident brought into WRC more shorter and safer stages, compulsory fire extinguisher system for cars and evolution versions of rallycars were banned. 1988 there was found Race of Champions event for memory of Henri Toivonen and Sergi Cresto (which now is unfortunately almost totally forgotten).


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#2 BRG

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Posted 22 April 2013 - 10:24

I think that it was not so much that Gp B cars were inherently unsafe, but that Lancia's versions were. Both the 037 and the S4 saw fatalities. IIRC someone was thrown out of a 037 through the roof. Lancia simply took the formula to dangerous extremes. If the FIA had set more stringent safety rules, Gp B could have continued, although the spectator safety issue which finally ended it would presumably have still arisen.

I don't think any other manufacturer had such serious safety issues with their Gp B cars. The earlier Gp Bs were developments from Gp 4 (Manta 400, Celica) and seem to have been pretty robust. Other pure Gp Bs (Quattro, 205T16, Metro 6R4, RS200) also seem to have been OK - I myself suffered a big accident in a 6R4 and we both walked away without even bruises - but Lancia seem to have forgotten safety in their pursuit of speed. This is not to say that an accident of the magnitude of that which claimed Henri would not have been fatal in another car also, but as we have seen in recent years through JM Latvala's rally car crash test programme, it is possible to make a rally car almost bulletproof. If the FIA had mandated a higher minimum weight, the temptation to take risks with safety would have been far less.

#3 jcbc3

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Posted 22 April 2013 - 15:29

I thought the RS200 had a pretty bad record too. Problem is that there were so relatively few, that each accident represented a large proportion.

#4 nmansellfan

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Posted 22 April 2013 - 15:44

Only a niggling point, but the S4 didn't have 'nearly 1000 horsepower'. It officially had 480bhp, and in reality had around 550 I have read. I've also read somewhere Lancia did develop an S4 engine developing nearly four figures, but it wasn't used in competition. That doesn't change the fact that the S4 appeared to be a beast to control at the best of times though.

Edited by nmansellfan, 22 April 2013 - 15:45.


#5 The Kanisteri

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Posted 22 April 2013 - 16:05

Only a niggling point, but the S4 didn't have 'nearly 1000 horsepower'. It officially had 480bhp, and in reality had around 550 I have read. I've also read somewhere Lancia did develop an S4 engine developing nearly four figures, but it wasn't used in competition. That doesn't change the fact that the S4 appeared to be a beast to control at the best of times though.



You are correct. Apologies on that. I wikied some stuff while I was writing it at workplace and unfortunately took this sentence " In 1985, Lancia engineers tested a S4 engine under extreme conditions, reaching 5 bars boost, developing around 1000 horsepower"...off from wikipedia way too hurried.

#6 Hamish Robson

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Posted 22 April 2013 - 18:09

Remember it wasn't just the cars that were dangerous but the events too. I know it's difficult to compare modern events with those in the eighties, but the stages didn't have nearly the marshall coverage or crowd control, and quite a few stages had higher average speeds.
It wasn't that the cars were inherently dangerous, but they tended to hit solid, unprotected things quite hard. Surer in an RS200, poor Henri, Bettega in an 037, Ari in the T16. Hit something solid in a modern WRC car and you'll still hurt yourself if things go against you. Colin McRae in his Focus in Corsica, and much more recently Robert Kubica.
I take the stories in the first post here with a pinch of salt. It's been the thick end of 30 years and there's new information?

Edited by Hamish Robson, 22 April 2013 - 18:10.


#7 ianbuddery

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Posted 22 April 2013 - 21:51

I think that it was not so much that Gp B cars were inherently unsafe, but that Lancia's versions were. Both the 037 and the S4 saw fatalities. IIRC someone was thrown out of a 037 through the roof. Lancia simply took the formula to dangerous extremes.


Sorry, this is nonsense. I co-own an 037, it was the first rally car to be designed around crash test requirements and is very robust, as was the Delta S4. I have heavily crashed in a Stratos and walked away too.

The OP is using an internet article full of hearsay (and apparently Wikipedia) as the source of his "knowledge". There is nothing credible about the story.

#8 CSquared

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Posted 22 April 2013 - 21:52

I have to admit the story doesn't really fly with me, either. Maybe this is one for the stupid question thread, but is a stuck throttle really that big of a problem in a car with a clutch, brakes, and an ignition switch? Especially if the throttle's only sticking when the pedal's on the floor. If you're flat on the floor and then close the throttle, most of the time it's because you're going to shift, brake, or both. Yes, there are cases where this could cause loss of control, but it seems like in most cases this is something the driver could get control of very quickly. Also, this is said to have happened because the floor broke and the pedal went through it, so I'd think the driver would know right away there was a problem, unlike if, say, the sticking part was in the throttle body.

But I don't know much about this accident or this car so I'm ready to be 100% wrong.


#9 ianbuddery

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Posted 22 April 2013 - 22:53

I have to admit the story doesn't really fly with me, either. Maybe this is one for the stupid question thread, but is a stuck throttle really that big of a problem in a car with a clutch, brakes, and an ignition switch? Especially if the throttle's only sticking when the pedal's on the floor. If you're flat on the floor and then close the throttle, most of the time it's because you're going to shift, brake, or both. Yes, there are cases where this could cause loss of control, but it seems like in most cases this is something the driver could get control of very quickly. Also, this is said to have happened because the floor broke and the pedal went through it, so I'd think the driver would know right away there was a problem, unlike if, say, the sticking part was in the throttle body.

But I don't know much about this accident or this car so I'm ready to be 100% wrong.


You usually discover a stuck throttle after you've been flat on a straight then arrive at the braking point for a corner at high speed, you either dip the clutch or try and get around flat out, either way you're probably going to go off. A kill switch on the dash that can be punched quickly and gives engine braking for the corner is helpful, but you drive rally cars on the throttle as much as the steering wheel, so it's still not a good scenario.

Henri was a fast and flamboyant driver. Many things could have happened to send him off the road, the car melted so there was no physical evidence that anyone can use to determine the cause. It was an accident.

Blaming the Lancia team is unfair, calling their cars more dangerous than other Group B cars is just wrong.

#10 Ray Bell

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Posted 23 April 2013 - 03:08

I agree, a stuck throttle will be an issue except during a gearchange on a straight road...

Driving near the limits there are no margins for such things.

I also contend that it's still way too dangerous in top level rally events. One day a major crash will kill a large number of spectators and it will jeopardise the future of all motor sport.

#11 Lee Nicolle

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Posted 23 April 2013 - 04:42

I agree, a stuck throttle will be an issue except during a gearchange on a straight road...

Driving near the limits there are no margins for such things.

I also contend that it's still way too dangerous in top level rally events. One day a major crash will kill a large number of spectators and it will jeopardise the future of all motor sport.

I agree with you Ray. While I can understand the challenge of rallying and even did a bit of low key in my younger days it is far too dangerous. For drivers and navigators yet alone the spectators that do everywhere where they should not. Even now.
I have done road closure on State Rounds and the fools go to the most stupid places, often where they will be hit if the car goes straight on. Doing road closure prohibits you from being spectator control.
I have seen a few very near misses, in one case a car hit a tree instead of a dozen spectators. Luckily no serious injurys except for the car which was stuffed.
The International stuff we see on TV outright scares me with lack of spectator control. And IF they cannot insure the events there will be no events which will flow onto all forms of the sport. Many forms of motorsport are struggling because of insurance issues. A few years back Speedway Australia wide did not start on time because of no insurance at a National Level. And it does reflect in increased entry costs world wide. And the stupid things that now happen at all events. Such as you cannot refuel a car without someone standing by with an extinguisher, many venues you cannot even jack up a car except for designated areas that are both too small and quite inconvenient.
All of which makes the sport less fun and participation too hard!

#12 proviz

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Posted 23 April 2013 - 06:24


This stuck throttle pedal theory is not new information at all. The rumour has been doing the rounds for ages. The reason it has not been documented is because it cannot be verified and spreading the story casts doubts over the team's integrity. This time it surfaced on YLE's sportsdesk programme whose motor sports coverage these days is embarrassing, to say the least.



#13 Henri Greuter

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Posted 23 April 2013 - 07:29

.

I don't think any other manufacturer had such serious safety issues with their Gp B cars. The earlier Gp Bs were developments from Gp 4 (Manta 400, Celica) and seem to have been pretty robust. Other pure Gp Bs (Quattro, 205T16, Metro 6R4, RS200) also seem to have been OK - I myself suffered a big accident in a 6R4 and we both walked away without even bruises - but Lancia seem to have forgotten safety in their pursuit of speed. This is not to say that an accident of the magnitude of that which claimed Henri would not have been fatal in another car also, but as we have seen in recent years through JM Latvala's rally car crash test programme, it is possible to make a rally car almost bulletproof. If the FIA had mandated a higher minimum weight, the temptation to take risks with safety would have been far less.



Do you remember how Ari Vatanen's first ever WC rally with a Peugeot 205T16 ended?
Corsica 1984: he went off the road but he and his co-driver got out in time before the car went up in flames and burned down to the ground. Eery: 2 years before....
There have been a few T16s that went up in flames. Not mentioning that Ari was almost killed too in 1985.

If Lancia took too many risks in 1986 I think it was caused by the fact that the S4 was loaded with potential yet it could't be extracted out of the car as easily and `safe` as weith the Peugeot. And to remain in the title challenge, Lancia may indeed have taken risks that were not fully realized, who knows.
The S4 was still not yet fully sorted out and I would not be at all surprised if the double debut victory RAC '85 and Monte Carlo 1986 flatters the car even more then we realize. As well as underlining how brilliant Toivonen was. The Evo version of the S4 was rumored to be much changed with much more weigth moved to the front. I only wonder how they would have achieved that since there wasn't that much space available ahead of the drivers anymore.


Henri


#14 Antti Salmi

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Posted 23 April 2013 - 10:06

When Vatanen was hurt in Argentina in '85, it wasn't because of fire. I recall hearing that Ari's injuries were result of his seat getting torn off of its mountings. Can anyone confirm this, or has anyone else heard this?

#15 Tim Murray

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Posted 23 April 2013 - 10:42

Can anyone confirm this, or has anyone else heard this?

Yes, this is the story as it appears in the book Vatanen - Every Second Counts. Ari was thrown all around the car as it cartwheeled down the road, but there was no fire

#16 Lee Nicolle

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Posted 23 April 2013 - 11:01

I have just spent an hour or so watching rally crash videos on You Tube. I am surprised that they can ever get permission to ever run one of those events,,, yet alone liability insurance. If I worked in the insurance industry I would tell them they have to be joking. And as a circuit and sometime speedway competitor I am damn sure I am subsidising them big time.

In that hour I have seen houses hit, miles of Armco trashed, road fences, farm fences, a water tank, cars in vineyards,in fact the second one rolled over the first, power and phone poles, a medical car, a police car, several bus shelters plus hundreds of trees. That is beside the damage to the roads, drains, culverts and the pollution caused by five, yes 5 cars in a river. Plus ofcourse the human damage to spectators, officials and competitors and damn near a cow, in its paddock!

I think rallying has had its day. With that much carnage to infrastructure alone it is unsustainable. And all these videos were from the last 5 years or so

#17 BRG

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Posted 23 April 2013 - 20:55

Sorry, this is nonsense. I co-own an 037, it was the first rally car to be designed around crash test requirements and is very robust, as was the Delta S4. I have heavily crashed in a Stratos and walked away too.

Attilio Bettega didn't walk away.

And after some research, I find the driver expelled through the roof was named Bacchelli and it was on the 1982 Rally Colline di Romagna, an Italian national championship round.

Edited by BRG, 23 April 2013 - 21:24.


#18 Ray Bell

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Posted 23 April 2013 - 22:40

Is it of any importance that a particular car has been in a fatal accident?

All sorts of cars are involved in fatalities. One of the most eye-opening things to some might be the comment I got from a State Emergency Services volunteer on the Sunshine Coast:

"I've pulled a lot of dead bodies from Volvos," he told me.

Volvo, the car advertised for its safety, with all the built-in features designed to make them safe.

So safe, it would seem, that accident-prone drivers who've been lucky to get away with their lives in some other car have bought a Volvo to protect themselves. I wonder what the accident involvement incidence is for Volvos compared to other cars?

#19 Lee Nicolle

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Posted 24 April 2013 - 00:04

Is it of any importance that a particular car has been in a fatal accident?

All sorts of cars are involved in fatalities. One of the most eye-opening things to some might be the comment I got from a State Emergency Services volunteer on the Sunshine Coast:

"I've pulled a lot of dead bodies from Volvos," he told me.

Volvo, the car advertised for its safety, with all the built-in features designed to make them safe.

So safe, it would seem, that accident-prone drivers who've been lucky to get away with their lives in some other car have bought a Volvo to protect themselves. I wonder what the accident involvement incidence is for Volvos compared to other cars?

Ovlovs are strong tanks from Europe, but handling and performance they are not. Meaning they have plenty of accidents. Though the worse drivers who bought Ovlovs now drive Camrys. The Volvo aware driver/ rider has to be aware of Camrys too now.

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#20 ianbuddery

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Posted 24 April 2013 - 04:12

Is it of any importance that a particular car has been in a fatal accident?


The question originally raised was the safety of Lancia GpB cars versus the rest.

Motorsport is dangerous and rallying can be particularly so, anyone who's done enough events will have seen fatalities involving modern rally cars too, particularly on fast tarmac stages. We had a driver fatality in a Porsche Cayman in Targa Tasmania just a week ago.

My point, from direct experience, is that Lancia rally cars are not inherently unsafe, they were well engineered to the standards of the day. Gp B was extreme motorsport, which inevitably had to be reigned in.

btw the 037 is a delight to drive, the best handling, best balanced mid engined car I've ever experienced. It also has a Spitfire soundtrack, with the supercharger screaming away inches from your ears, utterly addictive.

#21 BRG

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Posted 24 April 2013 - 19:37

I hope your direct experience didn't include anything like this.

#22 blackmme

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Posted 24 April 2013 - 21:51

The question originally raised was the safety of Lancia GpB cars versus the rest.

Motorsport is dangerous and rallying can be particularly so, anyone who's done enough events will have seen fatalities involving modern rally cars too, particularly on fast tarmac stages. We had a driver fatality in a Porsche Cayman in Targa Tasmania just a week ago.

My point, from direct experience, is that Lancia rally cars are not inherently unsafe, they were well engineered to the standards of the day. Gp B was extreme motorsport, which inevitably had to be reigned in.

btw the 037 is a delight to drive, the best handling, best balanced mid engined car I've ever experienced. It also has a Spitfire soundtrack, with the supercharger screaming away inches from your ears, utterly addictive.


You forgot best looking! The closest I have come to owning / driving one was my Tamiya 1/10th RC car back in 1985 but its remained one of my favourite looking cars forever. It's lines are beautifully proportioned.

Envy is not something to admit to but I will make an exception :) I'm deeply envious of you!

Regards Mike

Edited by blackmme, 24 April 2013 - 21:52.


#23 F1matt

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Posted 30 October 2014 - 20:09

A quick Google search for photos of the remains of the S4 how anyone can determine if there was a throttle problem is beyond me, the car is destroyed, it doesn't even look like a car the damage is so severe.

 

It is hard to believe either Sergio or Henri got out of the car and attempted to help the other, there is even some footage of an explosion in the trees as the car came to rest after crashing down the ravine and the time frame doesn't support anyone able to get out after that crash before it exploded.

 

Sadly the facts that Henri was ill, taking on board medication at service intervals, on long stages in a fiercely powerful car on a stage like that its easy to see what might have happened. 

 

Ceasre Fiorio got a lot of flack as Lancia boss after the deaths of Bettagia and later Toivonen, accusations of emptying the fire extinguisher systems to make the car lighter, and the positioning of the fuel tanks never sounded the best.....

 

 

 

As a footnote, I will never forget Henri and Sergio, RIP.


Edited by F1matt, 30 October 2014 - 20:10.


#24 RS2000

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Posted 30 October 2014 - 22:24

The accusations weren't about emptying the extinguishers but filling them with something else...with no evidence to support it other than vague stories of a blue tint to flames from the exhaust. 



#25 LotusElise

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Posted 30 October 2014 - 23:18

Henri Toivonen also had form for really odd accidents. He had already hurt his back driving into a wall, for reasons never fully understood. I think that was either Corsica or Costa Smeralda.



#26 F1matt

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Posted 31 October 2014 - 21:00

The accusations weren't about emptying the extinguishers but filling them with something else...with no evidence to support it other than vague stories of a blue tint to flames from the exhaust.



I never realised that, when I heard they allegedly drained the extinguisher system i presumed it was to reduce weight, not sure if the accusations were just made in Corsica for the Tarmac rallies?

#27 Tim Murray

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Posted 31 October 2014 - 21:10

I've been trying to track down - without success - something I have seen written, which said that sometimes when Toivonen was concentrating hard on his driving he would fail to register some of the pace notes being read to him, and had had a few accidents as a result. Does anyone know if there is any truth in this, and, if so, whether it might have had any bearing on the Corsica accident?

Edited by Tim Murray, 31 October 2014 - 21:19.


#28 D-Type

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Posted 31 October 2014 - 22:10

I don't know about Toivonen, but that seems very likely.  However, I remember reading, possibly in Motor Sport,  that Jenks and Moss tried an intercom before the Mille Miglia, but they found that Stirling's concentration level was such that he shut out the voice.  So they went for the system of hand signals as he could choose to read them in his own time.  I think we have all experienced something similar in normal driving: I tend to look at the satnav rather than listen to it as I can pick my moment.  Likewise, when having a conversation or listening to a dialogue on the radio, I blank it out when negotiating roundabouts, taffic, etc. 



#29 Fred Gallagher

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Posted 31 October 2014 - 22:55

I've been trying to track down - without success - something I have seen written, which said that sometimes when Toivonen was concentrating hard on his driving he would fail to register some of the pace notes being read to him, and had had a few accidents as a result. Does anyone know if there is any truth in this, and, if so, whether it might have had any bearing on the Corsica accident?

 

Yes, it is 100% true that Henri would fail to hear the odd note and undoubtedly some accidents resulted.

 

However, no one can, or ever will, know if this might have contributed to the Corsican accident because the only two witnesses were Henri & Sergio.

 

Fred



#30 Tim Murray

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Posted 31 October 2014 - 23:46

Thank you Fred, I was hoping you might be able to confirm that Henri sometimes failed to hear your pace notes. I hope you don't mind me asking, but in your experience is this fairly common for top rally drivers, or was Henri something of an exception?

#31 zoff2005

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Posted 01 November 2014 - 14:31

I think that one of the reasons for these fatalities was the fuel used in turbocharged cars, which was too volatile. I took part in a ETCC race at Anderstorp shortly after the Toivonen accident and I think only a week after the De Angelis accident at Paul Ricard. During the drivers' meeting at Anderstorp Tom Walkinshaw, who ran the Rover team, made a speech about "illegal" fuel, which he also reckoned the Volvo ETCC team was using, and blaming it for the recent fatalities. He asked us all to sign a petition to the FIA to ban such fuel. But one never really knew if it was just a ploy to beat the Volvos or a genuine concern. I signed the petition and remember lending my pen to Marc Surer who also wanted to sign - and ironically that was only a short time before his own rally accident in which his co-driver was killed.



#32 DavidI

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Posted 03 November 2014 - 03:14

IIRC the 037 accident referenced above, the unfortunate driver was ejected through the roof as a result of his arm hitting the belt release while the car was tumbling - tragic, yes, but a freak accident and hardly a design deficiency on the part of Lancia (unless you're going to split hairs and say perhaps the should have used a different buckle).



#33 DavidI

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Posted 03 November 2014 - 03:20

With regards to fuel volatility, technically speaking the "rocket fuel" used in the "bad (or good!) old days" of turbocharged F1 etc is LESS volatile, as it takes more energy input to get it burning (which is why it's used - it can cope with the extra heat and pressure of a turbo installation without pre ignition). I suspect the late Mr Walkinshaw might have been more worried about knobbling the competition, given his turbo opposition would gain more benefit/have more to lose than his normally aspirated Rovers.