Blog: WRC loses its prestige, but could FIA reverse the situation?

Even though World Rally Championship remains a very demanding and one of the most popular series of motorsport, it has lost its prestige the recent years compared to the past, so what could FIA do to save the day?

To begin with, WRC calendar includes thirteen rallies, but FIA tries to extend the championship by adding one more (fourteen rallies in total). Recently, sources said that the next year's calendar is set to contain the same number of rounds as in 2023 as US and Middle East did not reach an agreement with WRC Promoter for 2024. Moreover, the majority of the championship is being held in Europe, therefore it is need for WRC to expand its glory to other regions and to bring back some iconic events, such as Rally New Zealand and Rally Argentina. It is also important to invest in some new markets, like what happened with Latvia which will be running its maiden WRC round in 2024, and to include different types of conditions (one more winter rally apart from Rally Sweden or desert surface). Among the countries that must make their comeback is US as it is absent from the sport since 1988 and now has to wait until the end of 2024 to secure a slot to the calendar of 2025. Finally, it must be mentioned that it is speculated that a provisional calendar has already presented in Finland earlier that month and it is up to FIA if it will approve it.

Nevertheless, the most important thing is the lack of competition which comes from the fact that there are only three teams at the main category of WRC. 2019 was the last year that there were four different cars running at the top level as Citroen announced its departure from the sport at the end of that season. Although the championship entered to hybrid era in 2022 as hybrid cars are now at the top of the industry, still there is less interest by the car brands to invest in WRC than it was expected while there are some brands, such as Renault, that are keen on joining WRC if the cars go full-electric. Furthermore, the competition is not equal right now as M-Sport Ford is a semi-manufacturer team and has lower budget than Hyundai and Toyota, therefore it is understood that it is very difficult for the Malcolm Wilson's team to reach the competitiveness of their rivals in terms of car development. It is advisable for FIA to establish a cost cap measure in order that the teams have a specific budget to spend during a season. Another serious problem is that there are only two competitors under the age of 26 (Kalle Rovanpera, Pierre-Louis Loubet) at the top level which means that the young drivers are forced to continue competing in WRC2 class as they do not get the chance to drive a Rally1 due to the fact that Toyota and Hyundai preferred to have two part-time drivers (Sebastien Ogier and Dani Sordo respectively) to invest in young talents. No offence, it is good for the championship to have two of the most successful and experienced drivers, but, considering the high costs of Rally1 cars, it is not affordable for these teams to run four car all the season. It would be interesting if FIA creates an additional championship in which the rookies could fight for their own championship, but at the same time to score points for the main one. This rookie championship would give the opportunity to the youngsters to compete against the best in the world and to show their skills. Will you now wonder what car they will drive, right? The answer is simple and is an interesting one! What do you say about the current three teams to have a satellite team each and the youngsters to drive one of the existing cars, like what Toyota did with Takamoto Katsuta and the WRC Challenge Porgramme from 2020 to 2022? It could happen with the required sponsorships and budget! The rookie championship in combination of having one additional Rally1 car from each team for their satellite team would mix the things up!

To conclude with, it is understood that FIA in cooperation with WRC Promoter must act immediately to find some solutions and to finalize the next sporting regulations, which will be applied from 2025, as World Rally Championship is losing ground every day due to lack of competition and of some iconic rallies that they should definitely be at the calendar, such as Rally Jordan, as well as to have a tyre fitting zone before Powerstage, so the crews does not have to cruise during the final day of a rally.

Photo Credits: Toyota

Post a Comment

Previous Post Next Post