The discussion about the lengths of WRC rallies have remained fiery for weeks. The bosses want to cut rallies shorter and the fans want to make them longer. Maybe we could have both?
First it was Toyota’s team boss Tommi Mäkinen saying rallies should be shorter because the current WRC cars can only go 400-500 kms between major rebuilds. Having 200-250 km rallies would mean the rebuild should occur only after every two rallies, thus reducing costs significantly.
Then the WRC promoter Oliver Ciesla suggested the WRC events should be shortened to two days in order to add more events to the calendar. Oddly, he claims the saving of one less hotel day per event would be worth three more rounds, some of them even long hauls, as Chile and Japan are possible future WRC countries.
I know nothing about logistics or running a WRC team but I’m pretty sure it’s more expensive to do 16 2-day rallies than 13 3-day rallies. Once you’ve hauled the cars, the team and the trucks to the country, put up the service park, you can stay there for a longer time for almost the same cost. Of course, if the length of the rally would be shortened as well, it would reduce the costs in the way Tommi Mäkinen explained.
Obviously it’s important to get new countries involved. Right now it’s quite Eurocentric, and having Chile, Japan or even Kenya would be a benefit for the value of the sport. It’s a shame often the non-European events suffer from short entry lists or having stages canceled for reason or another.
Best of both worlds
One idea spanning from Tommi Mäkinen’s comment is to have two kinds of WRC rallies – 250 km sprints and 500 km rallies. The teams would not be allowed to rebuild the cars between two sprints to reduce costs. Maybe the 500 km rallies could even have a bigger weigh on points?
The 250 km sprint rally should start on the Friday with shakedown in the morning, ceremonial start in the evening, followed by a super special and one leg of stages. Maybe the stages could be driven in the darkness. Saturday and Sunday could be as they are now. All the stages would be driven during the weekend time so following the live TV broadcasts or spectating on location would be easy from the beginning to the end.
To make a 500 km rally I would add legs (80 km max each) to Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Thus Thursday would be just like Friday on my 250 km version, and Friday and Saturday would both have 3 legs of stages as opposed to 2 legs of today’s format, reducing the waiting time during the days. Thus, the rallying should start earlier and end later in the day. A rally like this would be designed for the hardcore fan who would see enough stages worth traveling abroad.
How to choose then which rallies are long and which are short? Would a rotating system be fair, or should classic long rallies like Monte Carlo, Tour de Corse and Rally GB be granted the long status automatically whereas Sweden and Finland should always be short? Should new events be on a trial time as a short event on their first year? Or would it be just based on who can afford a long event?
Of course the trend is towards shorter length, shorter stages, less individual stages and more live coverage through TV and the internet designed for the younger generations. At the same time the sport should not forget its core fans.