WIL­SON WANTS TO STICK WITH RUN­NING OR­DER M-sport team boss says cur­rent rules help to cre­ate a va­ri­ety of WRC win­ners

Motor Sport News - - Rally News - By David Evans

M-sport team prin­ci­pal Mal­colm Wil­son has risked in­cur­ring the wrath of world cham­pion Se­bastien Ogier by speak­ing out in favour of the cur­rent run­ning or­der reg­u­la­tions re­main­ing in place for next sea­son.

Ogier has be­come in­creas­ingly vo­cal as the year has pro­gressed about what he feels is a lack of equal­ity in the rule which says the cham­pi­onship leader has to drive first on the road for the first two days of each rally. Such has been the French­man’s frus­tra­tion with the FIA he has hinted at a de­par­ture from the sport if rule change doesn’t come in 2017.

De­spite Ogier’s anger and FIA rally di­rec­tor Jarmo Ma­ho­nen ad­mit­ting this year’s reg­u­la­tions had gone “a step too far,” Wil­son says he’s con­fi­dent the cur­rent po­si­tion could re­main.

It was hoped con­fir­ma­tion of next sea­son’s run­ning or­der would come from last month’s World Mo­tor Sport Coun­cil – a de­ci­sion is now ex­pected later this month or early in Novem­ber, fol­low­ing an e-vote from stake­hold­ers.

“My vote would be to stay as we are,” Wil­son told MN. “We’ve been cry­ing out for years to have dif­fer­ent win­ners and this year we’ve had six dif­fer­ent driv­ers win­ning in six con­sec­u­tive rounds of the cham­pi­onship. Surely that’s got to be a good thing?”

Wil­son added that he felt the cal­en­dar changes for next sea­son al­lied to com­pletely new tech­ni­cal reg­u­la­tions would even up the field.

“Don’t get me wrong,” he said, “I sym­pa­thise [with Ogier], but to be hon­est hav­ing Cor­sica move to April from the back end of the year will make a big dif­fer­ence next sea­son. It will re­move that long run of gravel ral­lies which was the cause of so much of the prob­lem this year.

“And, don’t for­get we’ve got the new cars com­ing and I’m pretty sure there’s go­ing to be some re­li­a­bil­ity is­sues along the way with those. You can do all the test­ing in the world, but you’ll still get the odd lit­tle nig­gle. With all of that in con­sid­er­a­tion, I would be very happy for the run­ning or­der to stay as it is for next sea­son.”

Ogier re­it­er­ated his de­sire for change, say­ing: “What we have to­day is not fair. I want some­thing that’s fair for next year, it’s that sim­ple. I want some­thing that gives ev­ery­body a chance on ev­ery rally and I want the rules to change to help us stop talk­ing about this!”

Kris Meeke – the man Ogier has iden­ti­fied as one of the pri­mary threats to what’s look­ing in­creas­ingly like the de­fence of his fourth ti­tle next sea­son – says he’s not both­ered about the run­ning or­der.

“Yves [Mat­ton, Citroen team prin­ci­pal] has called me a cou­ple of times to talk about what might be hap­pen­ing or what could be hap­pen­ing,” said Meeke, “but I’ve told him I don’t care what the de­ci­sion is; just to give me a call the week be­fore Monte Carlo and tell me what’s hap­pen­ing then. What­ever the rules, the best driver is go­ing to win the ti­tle at the end of the year. If you’re in a ti­tle fight, you’re go­ing to be run­ning along­side your main ti­tle ri­val, so it doesn’t mat­ter to me.

“But, if Mal­colm’s af­ter keep­ing the rules the same for this year, all I would say is that he can’t have much con­fi­dence in his new car if he’s want­ing a clean road.”

de­velop the World Rally Car.”

Abbring and Mar­shall have com­pleted just three world cham­pi­onship rounds in a World Rally Car this sea­son – their best re­sult com­ing in Fin­land, when they stood in for an in­jured Sordo and guided a 2016 i20 to ninth over­all. Abbring will start this week’s Rally of Spain in a 2015 car and pos­si­bly Wales Rally GB in an i20 R5.

Neuville was con­firmed in the third car last week, while Dani Sordo was an­nounced in the sum­mer. Sordo, Neuville and Hay­den Pad­don will re­main with Hyundai un­til the end of the 2018 sea­son.

Neuville had ne­go­ti­a­tions with Citroen and Toy­ota be­fore de­cid­ing to stick with his cur­rent em­ployer – there was, how­ever, sur­prise in the ser­vice park that he went for a two-year deal. The Bel­gian’s pref­er­ence, it’s un­der­stood, was a sin­gle­sea­son ex­ten­sion, which would have given him the free­dom to move at the end of next year.

“Although I had al­ter­na­tive op­tions avail­able,” said Neuville, “it seemed the most log­i­cal de­ci­sion to keep up the great mo­men­tum we have within this team.

“We have shared very spe­cial mo­ments to­gether since the team’s de­but in WRC. Our first win to­gether in Ger­many [in 2014] was one of my ca­reer high­lights. With a new car next year, and even more am­bi­tious tar­gets, I am ex­cited by what this next chap­ter will bring.”

Wil­son wants a sta­tus quo

Or­der doesn’t con­cern Bri­ton Meeke

Ogier has been crit­i­cal of the rules

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