COLIN CLARK

“The WRC is about mak­ing good news sto­ries”

Motor Sport News - - Round -

Mar­cus Gron­holm, Pet­ter Sol­berg, Se­bas­tian Loeb, Marko Martin – they’re some of the great­est names from a by­gone era in our sport.

Over 100 wins and 12 world ti­tles be­tween them, these guys have done their bit for the WRC and should be revered and re­mem­bered for their achieve­ments al­ready writ­ten.

But if we are to be­lieve Jost Capito, this group of ven­er­a­ble ral­ly­ing veter­ans could well be play­ing a piv­otal part in next year’s world cham­pi­onship. Capito is not a happy man right now. He strongly be­lieves pro­posed reg­u­la­tions al­low­ing three po­ten­tial point-scor­ing driv­ers in each team for 2017 are not good for the sport. And don’t get him wrong, he cer­tainly doesn’t mean not good for his em­ployer Volk­swa­gen.

On the face of it, it’s a more than a slightly cu­ri­ous sit­u­a­tion; it’s not of­ten you come across a team prin­ci­pal who ar­gues against reg­u­la­tion change that would ben­e­fit his team. That’s why I be­lieve Capito is a mis­un­der­stood char­ac­ter. Long be­fore he be­came one of world mo­tor­sport’s heav­i­est of hitters, he was a rally fan. At the core of the man, is a light that shines as brightly as ever for our sport.

Any of the press pack who, like I, at­tended his last, last brief­ing as head of mo­tor­sport at Ford in Monte Carlo, many many moons ago will tes­tify to this. His speech and his rea­son­ing was so im­pas­sioned and so per­sonal that no one in the room could fail to see where he was com­ing from. So much so, that as­ton­ish­ingly – es­pe­cially con­sid­er­ing the scep­ti­cal au­di­ence – many were re­duced to tears. He was con­cerned then about the fu­ture of the sport, and he’s con­cerned now.

He’s con­cerned about cred­i­bil­ity. Capito feels the start­ing or­der reg­u­la­tions, cou­pled with the pro­posed best two from three scor­ers, is a green light for parachut­ing in the above men­tioned vets to steal rally wins. He ar­gues the sport will look ab­surd if a 48-year-old who re­tired from ral­ly­ing in 2007 is able to re­turn and take vic­to­ries from the sup­posed best driv­ers in the world. I can see his point.

“Not pos­si­ble!” I hear many of you scream­ing. Well, con­sider this: if a driver who, 12 months ago, had never driven a four-wheel-drive car on gravel and has only ef­fec­tively con­tested two gravel events in a WRC car can win a stage in Sar­dinia (Eric Camilli), surely it’s pos­si­ble for Mar­cus Gron­holm to do the same? Gron­holm will have more seat time than al­most any other driver in 2017 machin­ery...

But here’s where I don’t nec­es­sar­ily agree with Capito. If we did see a re­turn from any of our old boys, I would be de­lighted. It’s all about sto­ries. And that would be one hell of a story.

JUNE 15 2016

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