OPIN­ION SPLIT ON NEW THREE-CAR TEAMS RULE

Ex­tra cars won’t nec­es­sar­ily bring in younger driv­ers Rally GB gets ex­panded TV cov­er­age on Chan­nel 5

Motor Sport News - - Rally News - By David Evans Pho­tos: mck­lein-im­age­database.com

A 2017 re­turn to three-car teams will only serve to hike driv­ers’ salaries rather than im­prove the chances of young driv­ers get­ting into the World Rally Cham­pi­onship, says Citroen Rac­ing team head Yves Mat­ton.

Mat­ton told Mo­tor­sport News he had al­ways been against the po­ten­tial change and has warned of the ef­fects of the FIA’S de­ci­sion to al­low teams to run three cars next sea­son.

The top two cars from each team will score points and Mat­ton fears the sport will re­turn to the time when the em­pha­sis was placed on ex­pe­ri­ence rather than youth to aid man­u­fac­tur­ers’ ef­forts in the race for the makes’ cham­pi­onship.

“I agree that the teams need to run three cars,” said Mat­ton. “But the way the reg­u­la­tions are writ­ten is not the way to pro­mote new driv­ers com­ing to the cham­pi­onship, it is the way to pro­mote the salaries of the [cur­rent] driv­ers.”

The reg­u­la­tion leaves Volk­swa­gen and Hyundai in the strong­est po­si­tion for next year’s man­u­fac­tur­ers’ crown – with both man­u­fac­tur­ers field­ing three ex­pe­ri­enced driv­ers.

Iron­i­cally, Volk­swa­gen had worked against the change for the very rea­son Mat­ton talks about, but team prin­ci­pal Sven Smeets said the Ger­man firm went with the ma­jor­ity.

“It was put on the agenda and no­body re­ally com­plained about it,” said Smeets. “So we said ‘Well OK, if no­body else has a prob­lem then we don’t.”

Smeets added that the cur­rent lack of ex­pe­ri­enced driv­ers at the top of the sport would in­evitably lead to op­por­tu­nity for less-ex­pe­ri­enced driv­ers – such as Craig Breen and Stephane Le­feb­vre, both of whom have been re­tained by Citroen for two years.

“It’s not like the days when we have seven man­u­fac­tur­ers,” said Smeets. “There were maybe 20 driv­ers with ex­pe­ri­ence. If you want three cars, you will have to put a young driver in the car any­way.”

There is also, ac­cord­ing to Smeets, an ar­gu­ment in favour of the reg­u­la­tion mak­ing the sport eas­ier for fans to un­der­stand.

He added: “We have fans ask­ing what is the dif­fer­ence be­tween Se­bastien [Ogier] and Jari-matti’s [Lat­vala] cars in the Volk­swa­gen Mo­tor­sport and An­dreas Mikkelsen’s Polo which is run un­der the Volk­swa­gen Mo­tor­sport II team. There is no dif­fer­ence, no dif­fer­ence at all. But this brings with it some con­fu­sion. Get­ting rid of this is a good thing.” The pow­er­stage from this week’s Dayin­sure Wales Rally GB will be broad­cast live on main­stream Bri­tish tele­vi­sion for the first time ever.

Chan­nel 5 will run an ex­tended pro­gramme start­ing at 1145hrs Sun­day morn­ing. In ad­di­tion to the Sun­day show and its usual Mon­day night, hour-long re­view, the sta­tion will in­clude daily high­lights for the first time, run­ning on ei­ther C5 or its sis­ter sta­tion, Spike.

BT Sport will mir­ror that cov­er­age with a show on Sun­day morn­ing from 0900hrs un­til 1330hrs, in­clud­ing the pow­er­stage. For the first time, the pow­er­stage will be broad­cast live in high def­i­ni­tion 4K.

WRC teams can run three cars in 2017 Younger driv­ers need a shot at WRC seats, but ex­pe­ri­ence pays

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