WMSC approves the murder of qualifying, the high noon duels and the new shuffling order

World Motor Sport Council has spoken. These are the approved changes concerning the World Rally Championship, to be in use from 2014 onward. Most things we knew already, but that meant little before it got final seal of approval by the FIA’e Council. Some changes are cosmetic (yet practical and needed) such as colour coded stickers on windscreens, so anyone will be able to distinguish between the two Citroën DS3s, WRC and R2.

Speaking of R2, and other Rs, they’re now reversed and changed into RC. I suppose that means rally car, and the new naming system will have WRC cars as RC1, followed by R5 as RC2, etc. I do wonder which number would Peugeot 208 T16 Pikes Peak get. RC0?

Other changes include fixed format of the events. From ceremonial start on Thursday to the power stage at noon on Sunday (European events) rallies will have to adopt this new system, supposedly to allow for easier implementation of live TV coverage.

There are also changes in the starting order for both gravel and tarmac events. The qualifying stage system is gone, and the starting order will be determined by reshuffling the order at the end of each day. On first day of the event crews will start in championship standings order. The next day crews will use the reverse event classification as the starting order, and same goes for the final third day of the event.

Let’s say we’re leading the championship and we have a gravel event to tackle. We’re first on the first day, sweeping the road and losing time. No matter, because we’re promoted to… front row again for the second day. So, another day we’re first on the road, sweeping and sliding, losing time (or crashing the hell out because we are desperate not to end up being slowest once again). If we survive and we’re again among the slowest in our class, we will be moved to the top once again and Sunday will have us sweeping the damn thing once again. FIA says this is to encourage the appeal of the events for the spectators and reduce the impact of tactics. Oh, but I say see a whole bunch of tactics possible with this system. It largely depends on the length of each leg of the event and it mainly concerns gravel events. It’s a change, that’s for sure. What kind of change, well, we’ll see about that. If you are a born strategist, do contact any of the WRC teams, I hear they’re hiring.

Here’s what FIA published today concerning WRC and rallying in general.

FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP

The start order for both gravel and tarmac rallies has been amended as follows, in order to increase the show for fans and reduce the use of tactics:

Day 1: Provisional Championship classification order for P1 and P2 drivers
Day 2: Reverse provisional rally classification order for P1 and P2 drivers
Day 3: Reverse provisional rally classification order for P1 and P2 drivers

Cars having retired and restarting (Rally 2) will be placed the next day after the P1 and P2 drivers group.

In order to allow greater flexibility to contract different drivers, manufacturers will no longer be required to nominate one permanent driver for the season. Instead, manufacturers will be obliged to nominate one driver for a minimum of 10 Championship events.

To bring consistency to events and thereby aid the Promoter, rallies must now follow a fixed format. There will be a ceremonial start on Thursday, with the last stage run on Sunday at approximately 12:00 hrs for European events. The final stage is defined as the Power Stage, the length of which will be set at a minimum of 10 kilometres.

All competitors registered in the Championships – WRC, WRC 2, WRC 3 and Junior WRC – will be obliged to use a colour-coded windscreen sticker to promote and identify the category in which they are competing and scoring points.

It was agreed to rename all classes of eligible cars in order to harmonise the numbering with the other FIA Championships. Therefore, the smaller number will define the most powerful cars (RC1 being World Rally Cars).

Permanent competition numbers will no longer be allocated to P3 drivers competing in the support championships. Drivers wishing to request a permanent number for marketing or promotional purposes will however be able to do so. The restriction on the number of servicing personnel has also been removed and testing during the three weeks preceding an event is now permitted for P3 drivers.

The date for the 2014 Rally d’Italia has changed to 08 June.

RALLYING

In order to increase the presence of professional teams, new titles have been created in the FIA European Rally Championship; the FIA ERC Manufacturers’ Cup, the FIA ERC Manufacturers’ Cup for 2WD Cars, and the FIA ERC Manufacturers’ Cup for Production Cars. The best two cars of each manufacturer entered in the Championship will score points in the respective classifications. The existing team titles have been deleted.

Free Practice and Qualifying will be staged on all tarmac rallies, as well as gravel events, following the same regulations concerning the definition of the rally start order for the first day.

A Junior Championship will be created within the framework of the FIA European Rally Championship to create a genuine ladder between the ERC and WRC for young talent. Designed to be an accessible and cost-effective series for drivers under 25 competing in currently named R2 cars, the Championship will run over seven events with the best four results – including one gravel or snow rally – counting towards the title.

It is confirmed that the currently named R5 cars will not be eligible for points in the FIA African Rally Championship in 2014.

A new award for Teams has been created within the framework of the FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship, increasing promotion and interest among teams and sponsors. To increase competitor participation, drivers must participate in a minimum of three rallies for the Asia and Pacific Cups.

The European Rally Cup has been renamed the European Rally Trophy (ERT) from 2014.

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