NO PRIVATEERS IN 2017 WRC
Private teams will not be permitted to run frontline World Rally Cars in next year’s World Rally Championship following the FIA’S ruling last week.
The rule change came out of the Turin meeting of the World Motor Sport Council, which dictated 2017-specification World Rally Cars can only be entered by manufacturers.
Last month, FIA rally director Jarmo Mahonen admitted he had concerns about private drivers running the next generation of World Rally Cars – which with close to 400bhp will be comfortably the fastest yet – saying: “We have to control these cars, but I would rather do it a softer way than the superlicence. Those cars will only be used by drivers entered by a manufacturer and approved by us. This gives us control.
“We will look at the merits of each driver who applies. Do we want gentleman drivers coming with these cars? No we don’t. Nor do we want the 18-year-old drivers coming and doing their first world championship round in one of these either.”
The WMSC statement was a simple one: “Only manufacturer teams will be eligible to enter World Rally Cars under the 2017 regulations.”
Teams will be able to find a way around this change – M-sport has done this in the past, entering private drivers within its factory team.
Volkswagen, Toyota, Citroen and Hyundai will, however, only run the three cars expected from each manufacturer.
WMSC has also confirmed manufacturers will no longer have to nominate a lead driver. Currently, each team has to identify one driver who will contest at least 10 of the 14 rounds. Interestingly, there was no word from the FIA on allowing manufacturers to nominate three drivers, with the top two scoring points. There’s strong speculation that rule will be returned for the first time since 2003 next season. ● The FIA has altered the allocation of points on WRC rounds running at reduced length. From next year at least 75 per cent of the stages must run to qualify for full points – currently only half the rally needs to be completed. From 2017 onwards half points will be on offer if between 50 and 75 per cent of the route runs, while a third of the points are taken for a rally running between 25 and 50 per cent. Below 25 per cent and no points are offered.