FU­TURE OF CUR­RENT WRC CARS OPEN

New 2017 rules pack­age could ren­der cur­rent Wrc-spec­i­fi­ca­tion ve­hi­cles im­po­tent

Motor Sport News - - Headline News - By David Evans

The FIA will ta­ble a pro­posal for the fu­ture of cur­rent World Rally Cars be­fore the end of this month.

With 2017 and new tech­ni­cal reg­u­la­tions fast ap­proach­ing, man­u­fac­tur­ers and pri­vate teams want to know the fu­ture for the cur­rent World Rally Cars, which will re­main ho­molo­gated and tech­ni­cally le­gal ma­chin­ery in the World Rally Cham­pi­onship. This year’s cars will not be com­pet­i­tive against the faster and more ad­vanced 2017 WRCS.

WRC man­ager Jarmo Ma­ho­nen has raised con­cerns about the po­ten­tial con­fu­sion in­volved with run­ning this year’s cars next sea­son.

“Do we re­ally need to cre­ate some­thing be­tween R5 and the 2017 World Rally Cars?” Ma­ho­nen said. “Shall we screw the R5 cars by run­ning the [2016 World Rally Cars]? That doesn’t sound good. We have so many R5 cars now, that cat­e­gory is clearly a suc­cess. We are dis­cussing with the man­u­fac­tur­ers what shall we do with the old car? I have asked for some feed­back and we will have some sort of pro­posal by the end of the month.”

Ma­ho­nen hotly de­nied spec­u­la­tion that the cur­rent cars had al­ready been con­demned.

“Some­body told me this,” he said. “They said we had made the de­ci­sion al­ready to ban them, but that is ab­so­lutely not the case. Citroen is sell­ing some cars to Ph-sport, Hyundai has some and, of course, M-sport is sell­ing th­ese cur­rent cars – but all of those teams have an R5 car. We need to talk to the guys [man­u­fac­tur­ers] and see what we can do. I want to see the num­bers be­fore we make any de­ci­sions.”

The ques­tion of what to do with the cur­rent cars is a dif­fi­cult one to an­swer. Many of the cur­rent pri­vate drivers are not will­ing to step back to R5 cars – but get­ting a 2017 World Rally Car could be tricky as the teams strug­gle to sup­ply cars in the first half of next sea­son. MN re­vealed last week that the WRC would have the fi­nal say on whether drivers are al­lowed to pi­lot the new quicker 2017 ma­chin­ery.

M-sport man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Mal­colm Wil­son has pointed to the gap be­tween R5 and 2017-spec­i­fi­ca­tion cars if cur­rent cars are out­lawed.

“There will be a very big dif­fer­ence in per­for­mance [be­tween R5 and WRC], it’s a mas­sive gap,” Wil­son told MN. “I think it will be quite dif­fi­cult for drivers to get up to speed with the new 2017 car com­ing out of an R5 car. The ob­vi­ous thing for me is to leave the cur­rent cars there and maybe cre­ate an­other tier which will fill that gap.

“We’re only look­ing at a year or two at the most for this so­lu­tion, the [cur­rent] cars don’t have a long shelf life. The teams are all stop­ping build­ing them now, with the fo­cus mov­ing to the new cars, so there sim­ply won’t be the cars around in a cou­ple of years.”

Wil­son also added that turn­ing away po­ten­tial cus­tomers for the World Rally Cham­pi­onship made no sense, both com­mer­cially and from a sport­ing and spec­ta­cle per­spec­tive.

“We have got lots of cus­tomers who are re­ally keen to com­pete in the World Rally Cham­pi­onship, and in a full-spec World Rally Car,” said Wil­son.

“Un­der­stand­ably, the FIA wants to re­strict ac­cess to the new cars, but it would be a shame to turn away more com­peti­tors when there are cars sit­ting around that could be used. I’m sure we’ll be able to find a so­lu­tion which works for ev­ery­body.”

Fu­ture un­cer­tain for cur­rent challengers Wil­son: So­lu­tion needed on ’16 cars

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