Ford of Europe motorsport chief Gerard Quinn has expressed his concern at the delayed arrival of next year’s World Rally Championship calendar and the cost implications of planning the 2012 schedule so late.
Next year’s WRC calendar remains in the planning stage, with the FIA’s World Motor Sport Council expected to vote on the events and dates either later this month or – at the outside – early next month. But, it is the inclusion of an endurance-style event running from Argentina to Uruguay which has caused most concern for Quinn.
“Planning a calendar for 13 events, nine months before we commit to it is not good,” said Quinn. “The thing I find difficult is this planning issue. If we were going to do this event in Uruguay and Argentina, we should have been booking the logistics for that at the end of last year.
“I’ve always asked for something more strategic and with a longer-term vision in terms of what we’re doing [with the calendar]. If you tell me we’re going to Uruguay and Argentina next season, I’d say that’s a huge step to take and how do we plan our budget around that?”
Quinn said he was in favour of spreading the WRC further around the world, including to new markets such as China, India, Russia and Brazil, but not without the right planning.
“If we were going to do events – even longer events – further afield, then I have no problem, providing it makes sense to do it and there’s more thought in the planning,” he continued. “Obviously, there are cost implications of endurance-style rallies and maybe one way of off-setting that cost is to have the compensation of taking a different event off the calendar when we’re running [an endurance event].”
Beyond the South American concept, Rally Japan is the event which is causing Citroen and Ford the most concerns from a cost perspective. It remains to be seen whether the recent events in Japan will have an effect on the rally organiser’s hopes of returning to the WRC.