For a man of such importance in rally world, FIA Rally Director Jarmo Mahonen is not that often in media and Q&A sessions, so naturally I was curious to hear, or rather read, what he has to say about the new format of European Rally Championship. Mahonen is in Latvia, at the site of the second round of the ERC, Rally Liepaja-Ventspils. High profile guest agreed to share some thoughts about the new ERC and rallying in general with the official PR team of ERC.
I did not expect in depth analysis of the current state of rally sport in Europe and around the world, instead, I was prepared for a barrage of polished diplomatic talk, and that’s precisely what we got. Sure enough, this was probably a quick “can we have a word with you” kind of interview, so there was not much time to longer and more detailed replies, but nonetheless, every bit of information counts, especially when they’re as rare as Jari-Matti Latvala rally finishes.
All in all, Mr. Mahonen spoke about the FIA initiative to set up proper ladder system in rallying, and how Eurosport Events was just the right solution for revival (although he did not actually use that word) of the European Rally Championship. To me, his remarks and thoughts sounded very reserved, almost evasive… he is satisfied and positively surprised, but at the same time it’s too early to say anything actually.
Personally, I’m no wiser after this interview – ERC is to become even better, with more teams and drivers, and should be strong series, feeding best drivers to higher ranks, namely World Rally Championship. Duh, right? At the same time, ERC will serve as a sanctuary for young drivers and privateers, who are not able to afford the upcoming slight globalization of World Rally Championship. Yes, the latter is to become a bit more global. Global World Rally Championship of Planet Earth! Oh, I jest, but what is this global thing he’s talking about… Russia, China, UAE? Also, unless WRC grows as well and attracts new teams, those top young ERC driver will run out of higher rungs to climb. Because, as we learned, privateers are more suited to ERC. Vicious circle this one.
Craig Breen should kick Francois Delecour’s ass in Latvia, and it’s great that French ace is competing because he’s a good benchmark. That’s all. Such a shallow, unimaginative, distanced answer by Rally Director.
Finally, we learned there are some good images coming from Eurosport. Ha!
Whoever it was asking the questions, and from the photo on ERC’s website I’m guessing it’s Julian “The Rally Guru” Porter, did great job. It’s a pity other guy was not so interested in anything more than quick PR candies. I admit, this is ERC event and so this chat was not going to be used to discuss WRC issues and problems, but I still feel Mr. Mahonen could have been more of a Colin McRae and less of a Jenson Button in his replies.
Full interview on ERC official website, which you should be closely following these days anyway, because of the second round of the Championship anyway!