FIA wants shorter rally stages to boost interest
FIA rally director Jarmo Mahonen delivered a sweeping broadside at WRC events for being too long drawn out and not what the governing body wants from modern rallies.
Mahonen singled out Rally GB as he insisted that the time was ripe for a more standardised format for WRC rounds. The Finn said those who want an endurance aspect to stage rallying should go to cross country rallies.
“In Wales we had a day of 140 km in stages and a long time with no service,” he said, talking of Rally GB. “On the first day, we had no service at all. I fully understand that Wales brings the money, but do we just accept it? We have given freedom to the organisers to do the rallies as they like but I have to say we have failed. We need standardisation.”
Rally GB’s remote tyre fitting zone on the opening day concerned Mahonen, who feels the service park needs to be visited more often.
“We have to remember we are building this championship for the manufacturers investing millions in hospitality,” he added. “But you go out in the morning and come back in the evening. What do you do with guests? This is why Hyundai built their ‘Terminal 5’ in the service park.
"Today’s rallies should be compact. They need a heart and that is the service park!”
Mahonen also criticised the length of some road sections, again singling out Rally GB. This year it had a 922-mile route, of which only 20.6 per cent was competitive. And, he says, that’s just not enough.
“The stage mileage should be 25 per cent,” he said.
Rally GB route co-ordinator Andrew Kellitt added: “I completely see Jarmo’s point, but the issue we have is lack of a big piece of hard-standing in the right area. We’ve tried a base in Builth Wells. It’s closer to stages but the teams didn’t like it.”
Mahonen’s other bugbear is long stages. He feels they have little relevance.
“My personal thoughts about this are that you have more 10 km stages,” he suggested. “They generate lots of news for social media. You remember the 80 km stage in Mexico last year. Nothing happened and people were bored.
"Rallying how we used to know it doesn’t exist anymore. This is racing on gravel. Here if you lose 10 seconds on the first stage, it’s done. The days when you said, ‘I’m going to attack on the second day’ don’t exist anymore!”