Long haul WRC rallies, good or bad?
- 14th May 2017, 7:51am
The first time the WRC went to New Zealand (1977) the number of starters was exactly 100. The first time it went to Argentina (1980) there were 89, the same number as when the WRC arrived in Africa for the Safari in 1973.
New Zealand and Safari have been dropped from the WRC and now, in 2017, we see Mexico had 24 and Argentina had 19 fully homologated cars.
Well supported European events are under threat of being thrown out of the WRC because the FIA is looking to increase the number of long haul events.
What do the teams think is the cause of the decline in popularity of long haul events?
There are many observations, but few opinions on how the crisis can be addressed!
Citroen says manufacturers have a high presence internationally, so it is really important to have a sport which covers all over the world, to be close to our customers.
Hyundai has noticed the low entries are mostly because the national regulations of the countries do not match the FIA rules, so not many locals can enter the WRC event, though in total Argentina’s national rally had a lot of cars.
In a country like Mexico the lack of rally heritage means that there are not many local drivers interested in the event. For Hyundai, it is important to visit these countries and, in the case of Australia, the market is quite big.
M-Sport notice that long-haul events involve higher travelling costs, but the markets are good and sometimes the number of spectators are unrivalled.
The WRC entry may have been lower than in European events, but that’s not necessarily a true reflection of the popularity of the event.
There is an opinion to include extra long-haul events to make the championship more of a “world” affair, but this would require financial help for the teams.
Toyota think it is important to develop the quality of all the events around the world.
Which is all very interesting, but nothing addresses the problem of what to do with the established European events that must be sacrificed if global expansion is to happen.
- Martin Holmes
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