Todt denies agenda against endurance in WRC

FIA president Jean Todt has denied any agenda against an endurance element in the World Rally Championship.

Present at last week's Tour de Corse, Todt told he still saw endurance very much as part of the appeal and challenge of the WRC.

Event organisers collectively feel under pressure to reduce the competitive distance on stages, with last month's Rally Mexico an example, with the series' most arduous event reducing the length of its longest test from 50 miles in 2016 to 35 miles last year and finally 19 miles this year.

Last week's Tour de Corse, which included a 35-mile test on the final day, is now very much the exception.

Asked for his views on the format of rallies, Todt replied: "It's not an easy question. For me, rallying is not a sprint, rallying should be endurance, adventure.

"Personally, I would love to have some night stages, I would love to see people going in the middle of the night to watch the rallies and I would like to see more service parks, but I understand this is more the history than the future of rallying.

"But I must say, for me it's great when you see the first stage (30 miles long) in Corsica when we have more unpredictability – they don't get any information during the special stage and the driver can make a difference."

One event organiser told "The messages we're getting are definitely mixed… Some of the teams are pushing hard against endurance and there was very much a feeling that these thoughts were echoed in Paris and Geneva [by the FIA] last year."

Asked if the event organisers were being put under pressure to run shorter stages, Todt told "Pressure from the FIA? Not from me at least."

Toyota team principal Tommi Makinen is keen to see a reduction in stage length, pointing out that the current cars are not, in his eyes, built for endurance.

Todt added that one of the advantages of endurance was unpredictability.

"You know one of my problem with actual racing?" Todt asked. "The cars are too reliable? I mean, look at Formula 1, things are so efficient, it's so much work with the simulation facility and the cars are so reliable.

"This is something I feel is not so good for the sport, we like and I like things more unpredictable. Racing needs to have some unpredictable flavour."

Todt pointed out that a change of regulation forcing the use of key components for more rallies could deliver more unpredictability.

He added: "Maybe we could give less allowance during the season for engine, transmission and gearbox – this would make things cheaper. It's Yves' [Matton, FIA rally director] responsibility to discuss that with the teams and come back with some proposal."

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