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As the current season of the East Coast Bullbars Australian Rally Championship nears its conclusion, rally.com.au believes that the sport’s governing bodies are looking ahead to the 2015 season and beyond as they seek to optimize the mix of events, rules and regulations to benefit organisers, competitors and spectators.

In all forms of motorsport there has been much discussion in recent years, about the best way forward as the sporting and commercial landscapes change. The Australian Rally Championship has had to face up to these challenges, with sponsor and manufacturer interest and demands changing rapidly and moving in new and different directions.

Behind the scenes rally.com.au knows that volunteers from a variety of backgrounds within the sport are dogged in their resolve to address an ever increasing list of competing demands from sponsors, competitors, organisers, and regulators, to continue to grow rallying as a sport and the Australian Rally Championship as its flagship, not just in Australia but throughout the region.

The ARC and ARCom, recognized that the reliance on four-wheel drive, turbo charged road cars for the premier category in rallying was on the decline, and looked to explore the opportunities that adopting two-wheel drive as the foundation of the Championship in 2011 might present in opening a path to a larger potential market.

Rally.com.au understands that the two-wheel drive platform, driven by the G2 regulations that have governed the likes of Honda’s Championship winning Jazz, as well as the rallyschool.com.au Mazda 2 and the updates to Scott Pedder’s Renault Clio, will continue beyond the 2015 season.

However, the success of cost-controlled formulas for turbo-charged, four-wheel drive rally cars such as the Argentinian ‘Maxi car is also a concept being closely considered as part of recent discussions about re-launching the National 4WD series dominated for more than a decade by Subaru Imprezas and Mitsubishi Evolutions.  The ARC is understood to have plans to promote the series with much greater recognition from next year onwards.

Plans being considered to increase exposure for the 4WD series are believed to include seeding within the field of the two-wheel drive competitors, as well as inclusion in the ARMOR ALL Power Stage run before each event for bonus Championship points.

According to sources close to the discussions this would potentially lead into the 2016 season and beyond where outright will be for all Modern (post-1986 2WD and 4WD) cars and an additional and highly promoted 2WD series award.

One recent announcement, made between CAMS and Motor Sport New Zealand, is the agreement to work together to consider the technical regulations required that might allow ‘Maxi’ –type rally cars to compete in both countries. 

It is understood that there is significant interest in the ARC, in conjunction with the NZRC and the wider Asia-Pacific Rally Championship, to adopt the ‘Maxi Rally’ rules that would allow teams to fabricate four-wheel drive rally cars from a common set of parts. This ‘Maxi’ platform could then be mated to a suitable hatchback sized road car, allowing wider scope for different brands and manufacturers to compete in rallying without the increased cost to build and develop cars from scratch.

The concept being considered would see ‘Maxi’ cars running alongside existing FIA Group N or PRC all-wheel drive rally cars. This approach would ensure that there is an opportunity for competitors adopting the maxi platform to share a common pool of spares, reducing costs, while the cars themselves have an exciting spectator appeal. 

It is hoped that local homologation would be possible allowing the cars to compete in regional international events and opening up career and competition pathways for drivers in Australia and within the region.

While it is confirmed that 2WD will continue to be eligible for the Australian Rally Championship’s highest tier beyond 2015, there is a distinct likelihood that the ‘Maxi’ rules could see the first vehicles appearing in the 4WD national series as early as next year.

Aside from talk of technical rule changes, the source close to the discussions has confirmed that Championship priorities such as continued national television exposure, organiser engagement, junior development and fostering career paths, commercial involvement and cost containment are also being heavily debated.

And for fans of the sideways antics of yesteryear a National Classic Series will soon be confirmed as part of the 2015 season, with regulations currently being drafted for consideration by ARCom.

Rally.com.au understands that further discussion is planned over the coming weeks to finalise a raft of decisions ahead of an expected December announcement on technical regulations, while the 2015 East Coast Bullbars Australian Rally Championship calendar was released earlier this week.

 

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