The Australian Rally Commission has been asked to consider a range of substantial changes to the Australian Rally Championship by Chairman, Colin Trinder. The reform plan is aimed at drastically reducing overall costs of participation, creating a new competition and adopting a new formula for standard production rally cars.

Trinder said that "the reforms are big picture at this stage - focusing mainly on reducing participation costs in the ARC for privateer, state and club level participants”.

"This can't be done without rethinking the way the ARC competition is structured and what it aims to achieve for its key stakeholders - the competitors, event organisers, volunteers and our commercial partners.

"The conceptual plan is to create a competition which is divided into 2WD and 4WD domains in elite and premier competitions. The elite competition includes the manufacturers and top privateers, and will be supported by a broader, stronger base of competitors competing in a strict cost-controlled environment.

"The working title for this new level of competition is the "Premier League" and the plan proposes that it be introduced in time for the launch of the 2008 ARC in April. While the timelines are tight, I believe urgent action is needed to address some of the strategic issues facing the ARC - particularly cost," continued Trinder.

Key features of the "Premier League" competition are that to be eligible a competitor only has to meet certain vehicle eligibility requirements - principally that they use a vehicle that is older than three years, that is tuned for an everyday road transport fuel (which would include alternatives such as diesel and ethanol blends) and that they comply with a strict limit of 12 tyres per event.

Only a competitor's best four rounds of the ARC will count toward the pointscore for determining the Australian Premier League Champions. However, the most substantial change to the way this part of the ARC will operate is the proposed removal of reconnaissance and organisers will have the option of providing pre-prepared pace notes should competitors choose to use them.

"The proposal to dispense with reconnaissance is a difficult choice, however, if we are going to be serious about making the ARC more affordable for state and club level competitors, this is probably the single biggest step we can take to save money," said Trinder.

"It can potentially cut up to three days from an ARC itinerary for crews, which means substantial savings in areas such as accommodation, food, fuel and dispenses with the need for a recce car.

"I fully expect there will be a diversity of opinion on this subject, however the option for reconnaissance, using exotic fuel and additional tyres will remain open to competitors, but they will automatically be considered as part of the elite level competition.

"In the vehicle eligibility area, the plan proposes a new vehicle category moving toward largely unmodified vehicles. Again, the philosophy of cost control shall be strongly applied to the modifications permitted to these vehicles. The vision is that these cars should be as close as possible to the way they were released from the factory with just roll over protection, safety items and modifications such as rally suspension and exhausts added," concluded Trinder.

Consultation with the rally community will continue during February with the key elements of the final plan being adopted in time for implementation at the opening round of the 2008 Australian Rally Championship in early April, the Forest Rally in Western Australia.

It is intended that the effects of the new plan on events will be closely monitored during 2008 with fine tuning being made along the way as and when necessary. The ARC reform package will form part of a wider plan for reform that ARCom intends to pursue in all areas of the sport, aiming to improve the sustainability of rallying at all levels for competitors, organisers, volunteers and commercial partners.

Further details of the plan will be released later this week.

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