The 4th round of the 2011 championship in Jordan has caused a bit of a stir amongst some. The organisers of rally Jordan had to cancel day 1 to ensure that the teams could build and prepare the service park which is needed to run the cars for the event. This was due to the delays caused by the boat transporting the trucks and equipment across. There was also a massive lack of spectators on the event.
This has caused some to question whether we should have a round in places like the middle east. The Citroen team principal Olivier Quesnel is one of them, and said to autosport that he didn’t see the point of competing in the region with so few spectators out watching the cars.”The FIA wants to have a round in the Middle East, so we have to go, but it’s not important for us,” said Quesnel. “There’s not really enough people. I have to say, I wouldn’t be sad not to come back to Jordan. The stages are okay, but it’s not enough. In Abu Dhabi, sure there is more money, I’m pretty sure we won’t have too many people there either.”
I must say, I totally disagree with what Olivier Quesnel is saying. I think its very important having events in places like the middle east, I understand their point of view in terms of cost and lack of Spectators, but at the same time we need events that are totally unique and Challenging to the drivers. Look back at the old Safari Rally, a real challenge. Jordan last weekend is also a perfect example, it was a real challenge and very exciting, it tests the best drivers in the world. And Jordan has always been full of excitement. Fantastic last stage, 0.2 seconds…….
Ok so lets try looking at it from the teams point of view. The main purpose for manufactures in the WRC is to showcase their products (albeit in Rally form) and to sell cars. To do that, they need spectators there. And you won’t find many of them sitting in the desert. If they don’t sell cars there then whats the point in going?.. Anther aspect of it is cost. The boat that was hired for transporting the equipment to Jordan had a collective cost of almost £500,000. And almost half of that went to M-Sport’s Malcolm Wilson. He said to autosport, “I would say it cost us around £230,000 on top of the normal costs, but what else could we do? Okay, some of that cost was because I airfreighted the rally cars from the last rally in Portugal and then into here, but we had to do that to give the guys the best chance possible for the preparation of the cars.
I understand what their saying, But my point is, the World Rally Championships is a global sport! Yes its a spectators sport, but its also a test to find the best drivers in the world. Every event should offer a unique challenge to the drivers, pushing them over limit, making them work hard and seeing who can conquer and make it to the top. The safari Rally was one of the toughest events in the world, there were almost no spectators, but wining it meant almost as much as winning the championship.
The WRC is more about ‘Global status’ than trying to sell anther hand full of cars. If all they want in a rally is millions of spectators to sell cars to then they should drive across new york city and see which driver gets though the traffic jams first. How many people went to see the Grand Prix in China – And How many sat at home watching it? The WRC is the same. Their biggest audience are the people sitting at home, and thoughs are the people that will go out and buy Cars. So lets keep the WRC a Global sport.