Cars are not the main problem, or are they?

While we wait for more news about the latest issues arising between the FIA and WRC event organizers, several ideas on how the future of the World Rally Championship should look like emerged around the interwebs.

Among the many I picked the Martin Haven sourced one, featuring 2-litre cars with rear wheel drive and normally aspirated engines. Such cars would presumably be affordable enough for privateers, encouraging them to join the WRC alongside manufacturer teams.

Another idea, suggested by WRB commenter and a friend Marko Šuto, claims 2-litre RWD cars with no turbo are simply not loud or spectacular enough, citing lack of torque as main issue. “In NO circumstances should the TOP motorsport class be slower than most stock production cars are”, says Marko. His solution: stronger and faster cars with more oomph.

But neither of these ideas is ever likely to become anything more than that, given how WRC is currently set up. For a manufacturer it’s unthinkable to have a car running in the WRC without similar car being offered to the general public, or at least that’s what we’re told. On the other hand, neither Ford or Citroën have 4WD version of DS3 or Fiesta on the market, so…

There are just so many open topics, unsolved issues and gaping holes to fill in the World Rally Championship that I think cars are actually the least of our worries. We have no idea if there will be any kind of calendar for 2013 at the moment! If we can live with current 1.6-litre regulations and if it does look acceptable to manufacturers then perhaps this is what we have to be content with at the moment. Stable championship with 4 or 5 manufacturers and host of private teams would be like dream come true, regardless of the car they’re using. Unless it’s a 0.9 litre Škoda Citigo WRC!

Šuto (his comments here) also expressed concerns over the appeal of current or even 2-litre RWD S2000 cars to the fans and spectators. Of course, images of hundreds of thousands of people seen lining the WRC stages in the 1980s are in everyone’s minds and we would all love for the times to come back, but I am not entirely sure it was all about the cars. And again, for major part – it was! However, events themselves are not helping their own causes by introducing outrageous prices for spectators – those ready to show their love and appreciation of the sport by actually visiting the stages and cheering for the teams. I understand Rally GB is leading the way with ticket fees climbing up to 130 GBP? What the f?

“Dear rally fans, we invite you to come and enjoy the Rally GB featuring two manufacturer teams, two and a half semi-manufacturer-close-to-privateer teams and couple of others, all that for 130 pounds!” Splendid.

Before the cars issue even becomes an issue, WRC has many other wounds to stitch. And once we’re all done and the bleeding of fans and media stops, then we can think about putting on some make-up. I for one strongly hope FIA will NOT do anything to change car regulations, and with that increase cost of participation. Whether we like the current cars or not, they’re here and few other manufacturers seem to find them interesting enough so if they will help us go through this difficult period than so be it.

Will someone please think of the privateers

I’m all about making the show more spectacular and at the same time affordable, but this needs thorough planning. Over the last few seasons privateers all but disappeared from the WRC – what remains is few “junior” or “semi-works” or whatever-they-want-to-call-it teams and that’s it. I do admit I consider WRC as manufacturer playground mostly, but it should not be exclusive to works teams, not at all! World Rally Championship was once very open to public, to new teams and privateers, and it’s time to rethink it’s foundations to bring that open character back to WRC once again. We need privateers badly and not only as filler on entry lists, but as regular and proper competitors, whether in their own dedicated “class” or “category” (similar to current M seeding) or in overall rankings.

Perhaps even go as far as removing the manufacturer teams completely and have them act only as supplier of cars, parts and technology to private teams?