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The FIA World Rally Championship has brought in new regulations for 2007 and beyond as part of a long-term plan to revitalise the competition.
 
The new rules, which were put forward by the WRC Commission, were ratified at the recent meeting of the FIA World Motor Sport Council in Barcelona. WRC Commission President Morrie Chandler said that they form part of a long-term plan which has been put in place to streamline costs and invigorate the sport.

He commented: "These rule changes are interim as the WRC Commission is working on a longer term plan, which will incorporate proposals about the format of the events and the championship, and the basis of the Rally Car eligible to compete. Then to enable a smooth transition there will be progressive rule changes as we move to the new face of WRC."

A number of the new rules seek to ease costs for the competing teams. Teams will now only be allowed to test for a maximum 48 days in a calendar year and only in France, UK, Spain, Italy and the Czech Republic.

The use of chassis for both testing and competing will be limited to 10 for the calendar year and a time penalty of five minutes will be imposed in any rally where an extra chassis or any subsequent chassis is first used.

A maximum of six engines may be used on each car entered by a Manufacturer in all events in the championship. Manufacturer Teams not contesting all 16 events will be subject to restrictions on the maximum number of engines, based on how many events they have nominated. Should the maximum number of engines be exceeded, a time penalty of five minutes will be imposed in the rally where the engine or any subsequent engine is first used. Development of the engine will not be permitted throughout the season.

For paired rallies - two rallies which take place one week after the other due to their close geographical proximity - the engine and the chassis of cars entered by Manufacturers will be sealed together. It is not permitted to separate the engine from the chassis except under the supervision of the FIA. The gearboxes and spare parts of Manufacturers also will be sealed for paired rallies.

Another small but significant change, which will enable more teams to attract commercial backing is that teams names no longer have to have a manufacturer in their title. This will create greater opportunity to find sponsors that aren't intrinsically linked to manufacturers.

For 2007, a special dispensation has been given to Suzuki to compete in three events in the championship, on the basis that it will enter all events in the 2008 season. Suzuki's involvement signifies a bright future for the sport, as more manufacturers and teams are attracted by the revamped rules package.

For 2008, costs will be reduced further following a tender for a single tyre manufacturer to equip all entrants in the championship. Testing will be limited further once the single-tyre manufacturer is introduced.

As part of the ongoing revamp of the championship, the FIA, along with ISC, the championship's commercial rights holder, have launched the first FIA World Rally Championship fan survey.

FIA President Max Mosley commented: "This first survey marks the start of regular dialogue with the fans of the FIA World Rally Championship. As we have seen from the FIA/AMD Formula One survey, such opinion research can be enormously helpful in understanding how best to shape the sport in future."
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