One month away from the anticipated announcement of the 2019 WRC calendar, secret plans are being hatched by insiders, while others wait.
On one hand the WRC Promoter seeks cash-rich venues to help fund the sport, fans fear the traditional concept of the WRC is being sacrificed, and the sport sold to the highest bidder.
We asked the teams, who themselves pay heavily for the privilege of participating in the sport, what they feel is the way to go.
How does M-Sport view the threat of a championship expanded beyond the current 13 events?
“We wouldn’t want to see more than 14 events as the fixed costs are too high to justify any more.
"And if the current testing allowances remain, there physically won’t be enough time, and we don’t want shorter events so as to have more events.
"We think we should concentrate on streamlining the time we have available during the current rally weeks.”
Should current classical events be thrown out of the series?
M-Sport: “Although we do not want to sacrifice long standing events, if they are unable to keep up with the times and offer exciting new formats or ideas, then you have to allow others the chance to do so.
"If we will end up with two new events in 2019, there will be three new events in two years, a good step”.
Hyundai: “Current events should be sacrificed if they are not organised to WRC standards.”
Citroen: “We do not think we have to sacrifice established rallies to make room for new rallies, and we don’t want shorter events so as to have more events. Rallies could be made shorter for recce or shakedown time, but not for the three days of the race. The calendar must be a balance between constraints and (currently) it is.”
Then there is the prospect of the WRC’s return to Japan and its first ever all-asphalt long haul rally.
M-Sport: “Going to Japan wouldn’t necessarily be of commercial benefit to M-Sport, but it is of course important to some manufacturers and we need to keep all of the teams interested.
"Any new event has a benefit for us in the long run. There is, of course, the extra cost taking tarmac parts to a long haul event, but until we try an event and see what it can bring and how it can enhance the championship, we cannot say more.”
Hyundai: “There is no commercial benefit as we don’t sell cars in Japan, but for sure promotion of the WRC will help to sell cars worldwide.
"Japan could bring nice images of another world to the WRC and good to have an event in Asia.”
Citroen: “What is good for the image of the WRC is also good for all manufacturers. Japan is a great nation of automobile manufacturers and Citroën sells cars there.
"No team has experience of the proposed rally, though it's always an exciting challenge to discover new rallies. As soon as there is an official announcement (if it will go ahead), we will visit the special stages of this rally."
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