WRC could turn to qualifying stages for running order fix
A return of qualifying stages could be on the cards for the WRC following renewed calls for an overhaul of the running order regulations.
Championship leader Sebastien Ogier finished the second round of the series in 10th place after being forced to sweep loose snow from the road on the first loop of stages.
His opening day was further compromised by the need to widen a narrow line carved into the ice by older historic and national class cars, which drove the roads between the two WRC loops.
Ogier wouldn’t be drawn on the need for rule change, but his boss, M-Sport Ford team principal Malcolm Wilson said he was keen to see the qualifying rule put back on the table for debate.
“I always liked the qualifying concept,” said Wilson. “The cars and drivers are all much closer than they were [when qualifying was dropped at the end of 2013] and after this event I think there’s a good case to be made for it – we’ve got a world champion lying in 10th place because of the conditions.
"OK, he made one small mistake, dropping a bit of time on Friday, but that’s disproportionate to his position in the classification.
"Certainly, qualifying is something worth talking about again.”
Collectively, the WRC's manufacturers will be pushing the FIA for discussions on this, with the running order likely to be a major talking point for next month’s Rally Mexico.
The qualifying concept ran for two seasons in 2012 and 2013 before being dropped in favour of a return to championship order on day one and reversed classification order for the weekend.
This evolved to the championship leader running first on days one and two in 2015 – albeit with crews returning under Rally2 regulations ahead of them – and altered further in 2016 to move the Rally2 crews to the back of the pack, ensuring the championship leader started every Friday and Saturday stage first on the road.
The regulation was tempered last year, returning the championship leader to the front of the field on just the opening day – had that not changed for 2017, Ogier would almost certainly have walked away from the sport.
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