Teams oppose 16-rally WRC calendar

Efforts to raise the number of rounds on the World Rally Championship calendar look to have run aground after the teams raised cost concerns about a potential 16-round season.

Teams oppose 16-rally WRC calendar
Jari-Matti Latvala, Miikka Anttila, Toyota Yaris WRC, Toyota Racing
Thierry Neuville, Nicolas Gilsoul, Hyundai i20 WRC, Hyundai Motorsport
Thierry Neuville, Nicolas Gilsoul, Hyundai i20 WRC, Hyundai Motorsport
Lorenzo Bertelli, Simone Scattolin, Ford Fiesta WRC
Kris Meeke, Paul Nagle, Citroën C3 WRC, Citroën World Rally Team
Thierry Neuville, Nicolas Gilsoul, Hyundai i20 WRC, Hyundai Motorsport
Sébastien Ogier, Julien Ingrassia, Ford Fiesta WRC, M-Sport
Thierry Neuville, Nicolas Gilsoul, Hyundai i20 WRC, Hyundai Motorsport

WRC Promoter’s Oliver Ciesla laid out his company’s vision and offset the extra costs involved against the hike in value gained from the extra rallies.

However, for the teams, fourteen is as high as they appear prepared to go – with some speculation that Toyota wants the number to drop to 10.

Hyundai team manager Alain Penasse wasn’t impressed with potential increase – or with the possible inclusion of Turkey or Croatia next season.

"We tried running 16 rallies before," said Penasse. "It worked, it’s possible. But that was 10 years ago, when the teams had a lot more money than we have now.

"I think 14 is probably the right number and for next year, New Zealand is the only option.

"We know New Zealand can run at the WRC level. OK, it’s a small market, but this doesn’t matter: the drivers love the roads and the scenery will give great pictures for the television.

"I always said that if we get the promotion right then these rallies can be huge on the internet and it doesn’t matter about the size of the market.

"There’s some talk about Turkey still, but we all know about the political instability, and then there’s this idea about Croatia.

"I’m not sure where that dream came from. We were told the promoter wanted to go outside of Europe for the next round and this totally contradicts that.

"I don’t know so much about Croatia, but I do remember Juho Hanninen meeting three cars coming in the opposite direction on one stage."

M-Sport’s Malcolm Wilson said he would prefer the number to remain at 13 for the foreseeable future, but accepted his view was a selfish one.

"Purely because of our financial situation, an increase in the number of rallies doesn’t suit us," said Malcolm Wilson.

"That might well change if Ford came back in or we got a sponsor and I would be interested to look at proposals from events offering good support."

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