As soon as first information about the new format for Acropolis Rally hit the stage, WRC community went into red alert mode, with several different opinion groups lobbying for their ideas of what the ideal format for this classic event should be.
Official info says that Acropolis will have only about 300 kilometers of special stages this year, which is rather dramatic reduction compared to over 400 kilometers in 2012. There is little doubt that money, or lack of it, lies behind this reduction, and from that perspective it’s pretty easy to justify the decision to cut the mileage. On the other hand, proponents of traditional values, one of which is the FIA president Jean Todt himself, are asking for more kilometers and more traditional venues as well.
There are good points made by both sides – shorter rally is better than no rally, if that is only other alternative, but if FIA is so adamant about “old school” endurance character of WRC, then reductions such as this are not really helping. Unless stages are made much longer, and invididual legs (days) tougher and more demanding.
Finally, I personally have no doubts that more defined TV & broadcasting strategy for 2013 would help organizers negotiate financial backing and secure their events in long term. Again, unless organizers are better informed than the rest of us, and have some ideas on what exactly is planned with regards to TV and overall media promotion for this year, it’s not really suprising there are financial struggles all over. Perhaps, just perhaps, FIA and their media & promotion partners might actually want to first present the goods, before asking organizers to spend even larger amount of money on endurance revival.
That being said, I am 100% behind the idea of going back to the roots – with longer rallies, tougher stages and less catering to teams and crews. But it’s important to remain realistic in all areas, from length of the events to the presentation of the final product to investors.