Long haul Rallies are Jean Todt’s holy grail. ‘Ye good ol days’, when Rallies traveled the length and breadth of countries.
The RAC rally, Safari, Tour de Corse to name a few. I’m a little too young to remember the old 70’s and 80’s days of rallying, but after many years of following, watching old footage, and hearing stories, it really was a truly inspiring era for Motor Sport. But in the ever changing and developing modern world, things change. Manufactures no long have billions to throw at a mid-engined car, just to make and sell 300 to the public so they can race against Group B Monsters.
Todays structure and layout for events are very much based in one area, and that is the service park, and Rally HQ. Events these days are more sprints than endurance. But the FIA want it all to change. A new era for a new generation and many ideas are flying around.
But with the amount of U turns and changes in direction the FIA are taking with the WRC you could almost map out a Rally stage. One minute they’re taking rallying to the people. Portugal for example, they transported the cars on trucks 300km away just for a 3.2km Super Special in Lisboa, which attracted a massive 30,000 spectators. But next minute they’re moving the Service park of Rally GB away from Cardiff to a town with a population of just 2000 people. And then the drivers have to drive 130miles back to Cardiff just to park the cars.
The problem now with the ‘new look’ WRC is that there’s no clear direction. Long distance events will work, but only on certain events, such as Jordan. But others need to have a base or Rally HQ for the event to run from, which works well for events like Spain & Finland. The amount of fans that were seen around service in Finland last year were huge, and it would be a shame to lose the main attraction. And as Ford boss Malcolm Wilson pointed out, teams have a lot of guest’s and sponsors visiting during the event, which is very important for the business of the teams. This would not be the case if they travel along with the WRC crews. It seems that there just needs to be more of a clear idea of what the teams, NorthOneSport, fans and the FIA want. There has to be something for everyone. The new cars have helped to bring costs down, and attract new interest from media and car manufactures. But it seems alot more needs to change to help gain more interest.
What the sport needs at this time is clear direction. Teams & fans need to know where the sport is going. The WRC should be cheaper, more ‘fan friendly’ and attractive to new media and manufactures. And keep in mind, the more miles, the more expense for everyone.