The king is back Rally Argentina Issue 9, May 2013
the inside view by M-Sport Qatar WRTâ€™s Anna Louise Rudd
ERC: Tour de Corse
The WRC in Turmoil - Monthly News Wrap-up
Each rally has i ts own tradema rk, in argentina itâ€™s th e watersplashes
Kubica back on the black stuff, though the cors are a bit more ican roads abbrasive than your average F1 track Image: FIA ERC
sometimes its n ot the drivers w ho have to work t he hardest Image: VW Motorsport
the sun can do
Image: CitroĂŤn Racing
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Rally-eMag May 2013 / Contents
The TV thing It has been another interesting month in the world of rallying. We had spectacular events in Argentina and Corsica but we also had some spectacular rumours about the future of the WRC. The new promotor, Red Bull Media, is looking for ways to make the WRC more interesting for the main stream audience, the tv audience in particular. They have some wild ideas about it, like having a lottery to decide starting positions and deciding the outcome of the rally on the result of the Powerstage. These proposals have sparked lively discussions amongst fans and competitors. Julien Ingrassia posted an inspired message on his Facebook account declaring his discontent of the ideas. You can read our view about the whole thing in the ‘The WRC in Turmoil’ article. New in Rally-eMag is the inclusion of the European Rally Championship. This fusion of the old ERC and IRC is beginnen to look very interesting. The rallies are a mix of new events and classics like Corsica and San Remo and despite a rather complicated scoring system there are a bunch of guys actually attempting to claim the title. True competition has been quite rare in previous ERC’s so that’s a major step forward. Oh and one other thing about the ERC. Eurosport is broadcasting daily reviews of the events and on many events also a couple of live stages. During de Tour de Corse four out of a total of eleven stages were broadcasted live on tv. The rally was decided on the final (live broadcasted) stage with the two top guys being under ten seconds apart at the start. With excitement like that, who needs Powerstage shootouts anyway?
Enjoy reading! Steven van Veenendaal Editor
In this month’s issue... Rally Argentina - The King is Back Page 10
The Inside View
- A look inside the M-Sport team Page 20
Tour de Corse - Battle Royale Page 22
The WRC in Turmoil - Our view on the future of the sport Page 27
Image: Citroën Racing
Who made it? Publisher: Rally-eMag Words: Steven van Veenendaal, Harry van Veenendaal. Photography: Bas Romeny, Steven van Veenendaal.
Who we thank!
How to reach us?
Logo design: Minse Blom
PR Photography from: Peugeot Sport, Hyundai Motorsport, Citroen Racing, FIA ERC.
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Rally-eMag May 2013 / News
This month’s wrap up Pee-Gee Returns!
Image: Peugeot Sport
Peugeot test at Mt. Ventoux In preparation for their assault on the 91st Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, Peugeot Sport has tested their 208 challenger on the infamous Mt. Ventoux. Well known from Tour de France heroics and dramas as well as its moonlike landscape near the top, the mountain provided a spectacular backdrop for the test. Loeb already described the car as ‘a rocket’ and could use the time in the car to get to grips with it. Even for someone like Loeb the beast is a bit hard to handle, not surprisingly with a 1:1 bhp/kilogram ratio. An interesting update came in the form of the new livery. Previous images showed the car donning a black and grey livery but Pegeot opted to change to a bit more colour and include the well known red, blue and yellow striping it featured on the 405 in the ‘80s too.
When Suzuki ended it’s two year involvement in WRC. Per Gunnar (Pee-Gee) Andersson was unemployed. We saw the Swede in different cars including the Proton S2000. But starting from Sardinia we will see the Swede back on a more regular basis. In Italy he will join the AT Rally Team, named after the Ukrainian driver Alexey Tamrazov. Together with his codriver Emil Axelsson he will drive a very potent Ford Fiesta RS WRC for a programme, consisting of six rally’s He will start in Sardinia then continues to Finland and Germany. He will then end his 2013 stint by going to France Spain and Wales. Image: Steven van Veenendaal
There goes the last Mini... Michal Kosciuzcko will switch from his Mini John Cooper Works WRC to a Ford Fiesta WRC. So far Kosciuzcko has had a disappointing season encountering several technical issues. Apperantly he got fed up with the car and decided to switch to Fiesta. Let’s see what the future holds now that he has a reliable and fast car. For now, have one last look at the Mini WRC. Image: Steven van Veenendaal
Philips Rally Argentina / Overview
Philips Rally Argentina
Based in: Villa Carlos Paz Date: 01-04/05/2013 Number of stages: 14 Shortest stage: Super Especial â€“ 6.04 km Longest stage: Ascochinga/Agua de Oro â€“ 51.88 km Total stage distance: 408 km Surface: Gravel Image: M-Sport
Philips Rally Argentina / Rally review
The King is Back Anticipation was in the air, would Loeb be rusty? Would Ogier beat him easily? Or would someone else star in this challenging thriller. There was also the anticipation of possibly seeing the King performing on gravel for the last time. So there was plenty to look forward to in the 2013 edition of the Philips LED Rally Argentina.
Words: Harry van Veenendaal
Philips Rally Argentina / Rally review 12/29
Hirvonen took his DS3 for a spin around local football giants Boca Juniors ground ‘La Bombonera’
Well by now everyone knows that Sebastien Loeb may have been away for some rally’s that did not mean he has lost his touch. The all time best rally driver ever came, saw and concurred. Ogier, nor Latvala, nor Hirvonen, nor Sordo and not even Mads Østberg had an answer at the display of sheer dominance the master showed. Of course his team management was jubilant, so were his fans, but notwithstanding the rumours of Loeb doing more rounds this year, we don’t the king will be back again. Of course het will be in France and our guess is he will deliver again in front of his home crowd and his rally wins counter will probably stop at 79. After that Loeb will seek other ventures, away from WRC. Perhaps we will see him back at a special occasion but on a regular basis, this is it. It’s up to Ogier now to make us forget this legend.
A few hundred miles away Sebastien Loeb drove through the ‘dried out’ riverbed in downtown Cordoba.
The Citroën Road Show Just before the rally the Citroën drivers were busy in Argentina. They performed in three demonstration shows at several venues all over the country. Dani Sordo made the headlines, not because of winning but because, as he said himself, he turned the road show into a roll show. It happened on one of the demonstration runs in the Buenos Aires based Arawak off-road track. While going into a long left hand corner his left front wheel dug into the soft curb and started rolling. After several rolls it stopped on its side. Both Sordo and Del Barrio climbed out unharmed. But there was a lot of work at hand for the Citroen mechanics hat had to build back the purpose built car to its original form. But the next day the unfortunate driver accompanied by his team colleagues Sebastien Loeb and Mikko
Hirvonen found himself 900 kilometres further in the vicinity of Cordoba where another two shows had been planned. Loeb earned himself a special medal of honour presented to him by the mayor of the city. Before going further for the Rally Argentina’s recce in nearby Villa Carlos Paz Loeb drove along the dried out La Cañada canal, running through the heart of Cordoba. The 50.000 people lining the two venues loved it and their loud cheers almost drowned the DS3 WRC’s engine noises.
Images: Citroën Racing
Philips Rally Argentina / Rally review
Film of the rally Shakedown provided an early success for JariMatti Latvala. He was no less than three hundredth of a second faster than Sebastien Loeb (who else) “I’m very happy to win my first qualifying for Volkswagen” said a delighted Latvala. But more important is that I can now select the best starting position. I’ve been looking at the weather forecast and they don’t predict rain of any significance. So we picked the obvious choice which in a gravel rally almost always is the last possible starting position. That means I will start in 12th place. I’ve seen from the recce that we have to deal with slightly rougher stages than last year. Recently I did some reasonable results here, together with the good starting position our aim will therefore be another Podium position.” His teammate Ogier is only a few tenths of seconds behind. “I’m a real sportsman, therefore I will never be happy if I don’t win. But as our goal for the rest of the year is to gain as
many points for the championship as possible, that is the same here at the very least I want to be on the podium. Once the rally has started he clearly shows his intentions. He firmly takes the lead, winning five of the six stages in the process. (The only one beating him is Hirvonen, fastest on stage three). But the on stage 7. Things go wrong. Mads Østberg shows he is a very capable driver and wins the stage, but Ogier has a slight off. “It was a simple rally incident, we just skidded off the track in a long right-hand bend. There was no damage and we didn’t get stuck so luckily, we could keep on going.” It was a technical explanation but the Frenchman was far from happy. Especially as people started to suggest the incident had been caused by the Loeb pressure. True or not, the fact is that Loeb was leading after this incident. Of course Mr Cool (Loeb) was unstoppable again. Starting some 16 seconds behind Ogier on day two, he changed that into
Ogier faltered for the first time this year. Was it due to Loeb’s presence?
a lead and extended it to an almost insurmountable 39.8 seconds at the end of day three. Latvala day The Sunday finale was dominated by a fierce battle between Evgeny Novikov and Jari Matti Latvala. The Volkswagen pilot started some eight seconds behind the Russian Ford driver. Although Novikov did not easily falter, Latvala proved to be in an excellent form. Helped by the fact that Ogier was counting his blessings by aiming for a strong point scoring position rather than take the chance of going off again and the Finn won all Sunday stages, including the Powerstage. This earned him another podium finish plus three bonus points for the championship. Latvala seems to have found his way back to the top again. But the podium showed Loeb on top again. It was the 7th time he was there, so although Ogier is doing well he still has a long way to go to eclipse his namesake.
Latvala is really starting to get to grips with his Polo and his first win seems imminent.
Images: VW Motorsport
Philips Rally Argentina / Rally review
The others Apart from Loeb, Ogier and Latvala there were obviously more drivers. Let’s start with Novikov. Again he showed that, in good form, he is a real challenger. In a direct battle with Latvala he still lacked a bit of experience but the combination with Ilka Minor and the fast Ford Fiesta can be a real challenger. Teammate Østberg is without doubt one of the better drivers at this moment, but again he was side-lined for good results. This time it was a big rock that blocked his road to victory. Anna-Louise Rudd tells you all about it elsewhere in this edition of Rally-eMag. In the end he had to be content with a very modest 7th place. The third Ford driver Neuville had a good rally and finished fifth. This is a far better result than being in a top position and then rolling off. We did not mention two Citroen drivers yet. Mikko Hirvonen was second behind his teammate Loeb, but in the second half of Saturday’s stages he first picked up a puncture, costing him some half a minute and later he was stopped
with a Citroen suffering from a serious flu. It proved to be an electrical glitch that dropped him some six minutes away from he lead. “Very frustrating,” said Hirvonen with a nice touch of understatement. Things were even worse for Sordo. On stage three there was a problem with Carlos Del Barrio’s door. This caused some distraction and he therefore he misread a note, causing the DS3 to roll off the road. The extensively modified car limped to the finish and after a good repair job the car could continue but after that Sordo never felt happy with the handling of his car and could only just managed to grab the last championship point for tenth place. Andreas Mikkelsen is a fast learner. In his second rally he again showed some good progress. But a suspension damaged by the beatings of the rock strewn roads of Argentina caused him to retire on the penultimate day. Some very good times brought him back in a point scoring ninth position behind eighth placed man Mads Østberg.
Image: Citroën Racing
Top to bottom: After a hard battle with Latvala, Novikov just missed out on the podium. Despite the landscape Hirvonen didn’t feel over the moon with 6th.
Ostberg is often flying speedwise, all he needs now is a little luck to get that first win of the season.
Philips Rally Argentina / Final results 15/29
Final result 1. Loeb - Elena 2. Ogier - Ingrassia 3. Latvala - Anttila 4. Novikov - Minor 5. Neuville - Gilsoul 6. Hirvonen - Lehtinen 7. Østberg - Andersson 8. Mikkelsen - Markkula 9. Sordo - Del Barrio 10. Prokop - Ernst
Citroen DS3 WRC 4:35:56.7 Volkswagen Polo R WRC +55.0 Volkswagen Polo R WRC +2:00.8 Ford Fiësta RS WRC +2:36.7 Ford Fiësta RS WRC +4:40.5 Citroen DS3 WRC +6:23.9 Ford Fiësta RS WRC +11:02.2 Volkswagen Polo R WRC +13:22.1 Citroen DS3 WRC +13:22.3 Ford Fiësta RS WRC +14:07.6 Image: Citroën Racing
Philips Rally Argentina / Standings
Championship standings 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10.
Sebastien Ogier Sebastien Loeb Mikko Hirvonen Jari-Matti Latvala Mads Ostberg Thierry Neuville Dani Sordo Evgeny Novikov Martin Prokop Nasser Al-Attiyah
VW Polo R WRC Citroën DS3 WRC Citroën DS3 WRC VW Polo R WRC Ford Fiesta WRC Ford Fiesta WRC Citroën DS3 WRC Ford Fiesta WRC Ford Fiesta WRC Ford Fiesta WRC
122 points 68 points 57 points 49 points 38 points 35 points 29 points 27 points 21 points 20 points
1. Volkswagen Motorsport 154 points 2. Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team 140 points 3. Qatar M-Sport World Rally Team 73 points 4. Qatar World Rally Team 46 points 5. Abu Dhabi Citroën Total World Rally Team 29 points 6. Jipocar Czech National Team 23 points 7. Volkswagen Motorsport 2 14 points 8. Lotos WRC Team 12 points Image: Citroën Racing
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Philips Rally Argentina / Who’s hot?
Who’s hot? Sebastien Loeb Citroen DS3 WRC Citroën Abu Dhabi World Rally Team
Sebastien Loeb announced his reitrement from full time rallying at the end of last year. He would still do four rallies this year though, Monte Carlo, Sweden, Argentina and France. After winning in Monte Carlo and taking second in Sweden, Loeb missed Mexico and Portugal to return for Argentina for what looks to be his final gravel rally. After a slightly rusty start Loeb soon got back in the thick of things. He showed he is the only one truly capable of challenging Ogier at the moment. Although Ogier said ‘I don’t care about Loeb’ he obviously did as Ogier made his first costly mistake of the year. Ogier went off and lost time to his compatriote giving Loeb the opportunity to charge ahead and claim win number 78, the final one on gravel. Images: Citroën Racing
Philips Rally Argentina / Who’s not? 19/29
Who’s not? Dani Sordo Citroën DS3 WRC Citroën Abu Dhabi World Rally Team
Citroën used the Argentina trip extensively to promote the brand and the cars. The team visited a match of the local football powerhouse Boca Juniors and held various demonstration events throughout the country. In one of these events Dani Sordo was drifting his DS3 around a corner, clipped the inside with his front left wheel and threw the car into a barrel roll. Not a great warm-up to the actual rally. The rally itself proved little better for the Spaniard. Still chasing his elusive first win, Sordo is starting to show signs of pressure causing him to push to hard. He was fast in Portugal before crashing while in Argentina he had already crashed before being able to prove his speed. He hit a rock on the third stage of the rally and spent the rest of the event playing catch up to eventually finish in a disappointing ninth. Images: Citroën Racing
Rally-eMag May 2013 / The Inside View
The Inside VieW By: Anna Louise Rudd Images: Steven van Veenendaal
Anna Louise is the Press Officer of the Qatar M-Sport World Rally Team. she is the one who knows what’s going on with anyone in the team, from the drivers to the bosses, to the mechanics and the engineers. In her monthly column she will give you a peek behind the scenes of a world rally teaM Well, we’re back from Argentina with what seems like déjà vu. Mads [Østberg] was once again challenging for the top positions only to be cruelly denied – this time by a rock on SS4. Will our luck ever change? Let’s hope it does at the Acropolis Rally! This was my first visit to Argentina and, as expected, it didn’t disappoint. The fans are as incredible as the rumours suggest with hundreds of thousands turning out to cheer on each and every competitor. The rally itself is also incredibly well thought out – the rally route taking in a number of stages with varying characteristics and the rally base extremely compact with everything well within walking distance.
The majority of Richard’s work takes place before the cars have a chance to power through the stages. Prior to the rally start, he’ll make contact with all of our customers – support teams and privateers – to ensure everyone is happy and ready to rally. As you can imagine, this means he has a lot of teams to meet. At the next event in Greece for example, M-Sport cars make up 46 per cent of the entry list so he’ll be incredibly busy.
Of course it’s so much more than just making sure everyone is happy. Richard will also ensure that the liveries are correct, that the teams have the appropriate spares for the event, and make sure any issues are addressed. He also attends all of our WRC meetings so that the very best At M-Sport we’re well known for our friend- advice and strategy can be passed onto ly – almost ‘family-like’ – atmosphere and our customers. Our customer teams are I spent much of my time in Argentina with an important part of the M-Sport ‘family’ our engineers and Customer Liaison Man- and Richard is there to ensure that they ager Richard Millener. You might ask what get the very best support – technical and a Customer Liaison Manager has to do on otherwise. an event, and contrary to what I tend to joke with him, the answer is a lot!
The Fords have always been popular amongst privateers.
Rally-eMag May 2013 / The Inside View
Once the rally starts, he’s there to orchestrate further assistance which continues when the team returns to the office. Any customer requests go straight to him – everything from buying a brand new Ford Fiesta RS WRC to requesting the use of an engineer, overseeing an engine re-build and even, on occasion, helping with air-freight to the long-haul destinations. A die-hard rally fan, Richard has also collected some impressive rally memorabilia since starting his career with M-Sport. In Argentina he even had me hunt down a picture of the team on the podium with WRC-2 victor Abdulaziz AlKuwari so that he could frame it and add it to his collection. Needless to say Richard is one of the most popular members of the team – albeit not quite as popular as Nicolas Gilsoul [co-driver to Thierry Neuville] who has got into the habit of treating the girls with Belgian chocolates. Keep up the good work Nicolas! Next stop for the team is Greece, an event where we have historically performed well. In fact M-Sport has aided Ford to eight victories at the event since the partnership began in 1997. With anticipation at its peak, I look forward to the next edition of Rally-eMag where I hope to have some good news to report. Top: Die hard rallyfans, if Richard hadn’t been with the team, he would most likely be out there with them, defying the elements.
Bottom: Greece has proved to be a happy hunting ground for Ford in the past. Can it be so again this year?
ERC: Tour de Corse / Overview
Tour de Corse
Based in: Ajaccio Date: 16-18/05/2013 Number of stages: 11 Shortest stage: Taverna - Pont de Castirla – 15.28 km Longest stage: Le Fangu - ND de la Serra – 27.53 km Total stage distance: 248 km Surface: Asphalt Image: FIA ERC
ERC: Tour de Corse / Rally review
Battle Royale Tour de Corse
Jan Kopecky got his ERC season off to a great start by winning the first three events he entered. Can he continue his winning ways against the fierce competition in Corsica featuring the likes of Francois Delecour, Craig Breen, Robert Kubica, Stephane Sarrazin and Brian Bouffier?
Words: Steven van Veenendaal Images: FIA ERC
ERC: Tour de Corse / Rally review 24/29
Bouffier was the third of four(!) different leaders on day one.
Flying start The Tour de Corse, or Giru di Corsica as the locals call it, is one of the most famous rallies in the world. Despite not being part of the WRC anymore, it still draws in some of the biggest names in rallying. Maybe it’s because of the rally’s legacy, or the spectacular backdrops the island provides but most likely its due to the fact that rally still is a tarmac rallying dream. Despite being shortened to some 250 km of competitive action, the rally can still confidently boost its nickname ‘Rally of the 10,000 corners’ as there still are very few straights in the event. As a result perhaps the biggest ERC entry to date entered the event. Regular front-runners and potential winners Kopecky, Delecour, Breen, Kubica and Bouffier were all there and all-round racer Stephane Sarrazin also joined for the occasion in a Mini John Cooper Works
Despite a good start Kubica again couldn’t reward himself with a good result due to a mechanical failure.
S2000. None other than Kris Meeke put the new Everything changes, again Peugeot 208 R2 to the test, though he ran out Kubica’s lead also wasn’t to last though. On the of competition as the 0-car. very next stage he encountered problems with his fuel pump forcing him to retire from the rally. First blood This promoted Bouffier into the lead of the rally. Craig Breen drew first blood on the rally. This is His lead would be short lived too though as one of the few rallies in the ERC he actually has notorious slow starter Kopecky found his groove some experience on and it showed! The Irishon the final stage of the day to storm into the man dominated the opening three stages and lead at the overnight hold in Ajaccio. He had much to the surprise of the local French aces been fiddling with his setup all day but finally he quickly built a sizeable lead. Perhaps Breen found it on the final stage. The Czech took only was indeed pushing a bit too hard as he clipped one stage win the entire day but he was always a bank on the fourth stage of the rally. He lost there or thereabout and it was enough to snatch nearly one and a half minute and dropped to the lead though he remained cautious for his fifth. This mishap promoted Robert Kubica into chances of actually winning the event “It’s the lead of the event. Although the Pole said he been an exciting battle but it’s not over yet and would be taking it easy and try to learn as much there’s still a long way to go”. as he could, he still set some very good times and got out in front at the midday service break.
ERC: Tour de Corse / Rally review
Behind him Bouffier was ready to do battle on the second day of the rally “Jan was really flying. I tried to push but it was not enough. Still it will be a big battle tomorrow and I will really try.” Meanwhile Craig Breen was back up to third again, having brought down the difference between him and the leader down from one and a half minute, to half a minute. Stephane Sarrazin was getting to grips with his Mini that he had only driven for a day before the event, to close the day in fourth. Just ahead of Francois Delecour who ended an eventful day, with two broken exhaust manifolds and a misted windscreen, in fifth. Tyres The final day of the Tour de Corse was all about the tyres. Changeable conditions meant the drivers were constantly deciding if they should go out on hard or softs. On the morning loop
Bouffier took softs and Kopecky hards. A little local knowledge might have helped the Frenchman, as conditions on the first two stages were far more slippery than Kopecky expected. Bouffier took both stages before Kopecky hit back to take the third. The gap now just over 10 seconds in Bouffier’s favour, with two stages to go. For the final loop of two stages it was again a battle of tyres. Kopecky thought it would rain and selected the soft tyres while Bouffier choose the hard tyres and kept his fingers crossed it would remain dry. In the end Bouffier got what he wanted. The rain didn’t come so he could take the victory in front of millions of viewers who were able to view the final stage of the event live on Eurosport. McRae Flat Out Trophy The battle for third between Breen and Sarrazin was also quite a sight to behold. Breen hit
After a slow start Kopecky got up to speed to fight for victory.
trouble on the first stage of the day but despite driving around in a badly damaged Peugeot he still set good times. He was in the top three on 3 out of 5 stages of the day and found himself just under eight seconds behind Sarrazin going into the final stage. Breen fought hard on that final stage but he just couldn’t quite overtake Sarrazin who managed to stay ahead by a mere three seconds. A good effort from the Frenchman who is not an ERC regular and had no experience with the Mini before the start of the event. Still it was Breen’s display that will be remembered. His pace on the event was simply astounding and if it had not been for those two slight offs, who knows? But if is the longest word in rallying and especially on the Corsican roads you have to be inch perfect to come out victorious and avoid the walls, drops and barriers. His efforts were duly recognized though as he received the Colin McRae ERC Flat Out Trophy.
Craig Breen won the Flat Out Trophy, the damage to his car testimony of his commitment.
ERC: Tour de Corse / Final Result
Final result 1. Bouffier - Panseri 2. Kopecky - Dresler 3. Sarrazin - Renucci 4. Breen - Nagle 5. Delecour - Savignoni 6. Maurin - Klinger 7. Aigner - Heigl 8. Leandri - Jamoul 9. Bonnefis - Fournier 10. Raoux - Mazotti
Peugeot 207 S2000 Skoda Fabia S2000 Mini John Cooper S2000 Peugeot 207 S2000 Peugeot 207 S2000 Ford FiĂŤsta S2000 Subaru Impreza R4 Peugeot 207 S2000 Renault Megane RS Peugeot 207 S2000
2:41:55.2 +39.8 +1:37.6 +1:40.8 +3:25.0 +3:37.6 +7:53.6 +8:47.8 +9:16.8 +13:54.3
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10.
Jan Kopecky Craig Breen Bryan Bouffier Francois Delecour Jari Ketomaa Andreas Aigner Luis Monzon Ricardo Moura Stephane Sarrazin Raimund Baumschlager
Skoda Fabia S2000 146 points Peugeot 207 S2000 109 points Peugeot 207 S2000 69 points Peugeot 207 S2000 48 points Ford Fiesta S2000 39 points Subaru Impreza R4 25 points Mini Cooper RRC 24 points Skoda Fabia S2000 24 points Mini Cooper S2000 24 points Skoda Fabia S2000 23 points
Rally-eMag May 2013 / Feature 27/29
The WRC IN TURMOIL By: Harry van Veenendaal By now everyone agrees something has to be done about the current situation in WRC. We know there is a new promoter. We know this promoter is thinking about the future of WRC but what we hear is only rumours. Or is the new promoter testing the waters? Discussions Apart from the 2014 calendar (China, yes, China no, China perhaps or back to the Middle east or finally going to Brazil, India or Russia) there is one very persistent rumour that causes a lot of turmoil in the WRC community: the Powerstage. The new promoter has to cope with the enormous popularity of Formula 1. Especially as far as TV coverage is concerned, the WRC is nowhere near. One of the reasons is that to general public, racing should be head to head. The car that crosses the line before another one wins the race. It’s not as simple as that in rallying. You have to follow the times on the leaderboard to understand who is winning. These are the basics. The first question the governing bodies of WRC asked themselves is how do we do that? How can we easily show the audience who is winning? How can we build up the excitement towards the final of a rally? If you want to do this, the Powerstage is not such a bad choice. But deciding a three-day rally in one 5 kilometres long stage is definitely a bad choice. This is clear from the strong reactions of those involved in the WRC. I have not seen one single reaction that was in favour of this proposal. We at Rally-eMag have a strong feeling that the promoter is testing the waters. In order to get a reaction you need a strong
statement. Their statement was: “something has to change and only drastic measures can help. So start thinking out of the box!” The promoter is right And of course the promoter is right. Something has to be done. But the Powerstage deciding a complete rally wanders to far away from the essence of rallying. Unlike a Formula One race, a WRC rally takes three days. This means the competitors have to be in their car for some 24 hours rather than the two of a F1 race. This has to reflect in the way people get their daily portion of news about an event. So what might be appealing to the general audience? Let’s start with the cars. With a bit of imagination it’s not very difficult for an owner of a Polo Blue Motion to recognize a Polo R WRC as his car. Nor is it for an owner of a modest Fiesta, DS3 or (in the not distant future) a Hyuandai i20. A Ferrari is only available to the very happy few and the majority of the other F1 cars don’t even represent a volume car manufacturer. For a good marketeer it must be possible to work on the proud owners of the competing cars. It worked for Subaru and in a way for Audi, so why not for the mainstream cars? Despite the wings and big wheels the DS3, Fiesta and Polo WRC’s are still very recognizable. Images: Steven van Veenendaal
Rally-eMag May 2013 / Feature 28/29
So in every country with a WRC event we should mobilize the local fan base consisting of the local Fiesta, Polo, DS3 and i20 owners. Not forgetting the owners of other types of cars of the Ford, Citroen, Hyundai and Volkswagen brands. Now we have a huge fan base. A lot of them will simply not be interested in our sport. But there must be an equally important number of fans who do like it if the likes of Ogier, Loeb, Hirvonen and Østberg compete in THEIR car. The other big difference between F1 and WRC is the scenery. I have to admit seeing the F1 cars in front of the Hotel de Paris in Monaco is quite exciting, but it is one of the few examples I can think of. In rallying every single venue is exciting. The scenery changes from high mountain roads in Mexico, very fast flowing gravel roads in Finland to meandering tarmac roads in the Mosel region in Germany, it couldn’t be more varied and interesting than that. So let’s build on that too. The last item on our agenda is about the ever-changing conditions the competitors have to cope with. Rain, snow, ice, heat and all other climatic conditions you can think of. And then the roads: very smooth tarmac in Spain versus the extremely rocky roads of Greece or the moonlike scenery of Argentina. A new format How can we bring that together in one package that appeals to a multi million audience? I’m not creative enough to conceive a TV format. But at RedBull and sportsman media holding they should have people who can. Just to get Image: Bas Romeny
an indication: in the build up to an event we start by showing a featurette on the host country, it’s food and characteristics, then something about the preparations for the event (preparing the cars, the drivers etc.) Qualifying should be done in a suitable time slot, (early evening local time) for live coverage in the region and to be repeated on suitable times in regions. (Although not head to head you can clearly see who wins.). The next few days a short (20 minutes) update on the day’s proceedings with a daily powerstage that earns ‘PS points’ for a special PS cup at the end of the rally and eventually at the end of the season. This all culminates in
a Sunday WRC show including a recap of the rally action and of course a final Powerstage. At the end of the rally there are two winners: a rally winner and a PS winner. Of course this can be the same person. In this way you get two events, the endurance and sprint event. Is that enough ‘out of the box’ for you? Let us know and let’s help the promoter. Oh and then one last thing, not so ‘ out-of-theboxy’. Becsy Wecsy and her team should host the show. The proceedings at the Powerstages should be put in the able hands of George, the Guru, Donaldson and Colin Clark (who else).
Next issue mid June covering The Rally of Gods, Greece. See you there!
Published on Jun 2, 2013
The May issue of Rally-eMag featuring Rally Argentina, the ERC Tour de Corse and our view on the situation surrounding the promotor of the W...