EDITORIAL: WRC – time for a change
- 7th May 2007, 3:44pm
But after the weekend’s Rally of Argentina, you really have to start to wonder about the direction in which the sport is heading, and if it’s time that many aspects of the sport need a serious going over – both in terms of feasibility and excite-ability.
The rally was based in Cordoba, yet the first Super Special Stage of the rally was held in the capital, Buenos Aires, some 700km from the rest of the stages. The plan was that the rally cars would be trucked from Cordoba to Buenos Aires, with the crews following by plane.
All that worked okay, and the stage ran without problems. However, when it came to returning to Cordoba, things got messy, which is hardly surprising.
Bad weather meant that the last of the three planes of competitors heading back to Cordoba did not arrive until Friday afternoon, meaning that seven of the first day’s eight stages had to be cancelled.
"When I first heard about what the organisers were planning for the 2007 event, I wasn't particularly enthralled at the idea," World Champion Sebastien Loeb told Autosport Magazine.
"The way things turned out shows there was good reason to be concerned.”
"We sympathise with the event organisers, however, it seems that the plan to hold the Super Special in Buenos Aires on Thursday evening was too ambitious," Subaru’s Richard Taylor added.
It was like basing Rally Australia in Sydney and holding the first special stage in Melbourne, and you have to ask why? Sure, it attracted a huge number of spectators to the stage, but how many of those would realistically have jumped in their cars at the last minute and driven 700km to watch the action on the real stages?
It was gamble that will hopefully not be repeated. While RallySport Magazine agrees that taking rallying to the people is one of the only ways forward for the sport, this was surely taking things too far. And in an era when much of the traditional aspects of the sport have already been lost, the 2007 Rally of Argentina was surely “a bridge too far”.
Also of concern is the dominance of the seemingly unbeatable Sebastien Loeb. On his day no driver can get near the Frenchman, and while nobody begrudges his success, you have to start to question the viability of a top-line sport when, realistically, only two or three drivers have a chance of winning.
As good as Citroen and Ford are, when manufacturers like Subaru don’t make the grade, and when others such as Mitsubishi, Peugeot, Skoda and Hyundai walk away from the sport, it’s probably time to start seriously looking at the sport’s future.
Perhaps Super 2000 is the answer, perhaps it’s not. But whatever the answer is, the World Rally Championship needs to get its act together in an awful hurry, or it will risk a decline that may be hard to recover from.
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