MOTORSPORT NEWS Rally

Privateers to get a new WRC championship?

Martin Prokop
Martin Prokop

The work of adjusting to the new sporting life with the new super performance 2017 cars is unfinished business with the FIA, who have already been considering issuing Super Licences for drivers of 2017 cars, a concept which will inevitably lead to complications and required exceptions.

There is clearly a social responsibility to have drivers capable of handling the power and performance of these cars on stages that are surrounded by spectators.  And while the work of adjusting to the new cars is proceeding, looming larger all the time is the issue of the need to a “road map” for the future of the 2016 specification cars.

This has led to the resurrection once again of the need for a WRC Privateers’ award, for drivers of 2016 specification cars that are becoming more and more attractive for private drivers now that the down-tuned WRC variants (the Regional Rally Cars) are being effectively banished from the FIA’s regional championships.

Richard Millener, M-Sport’s Customer Liaison Manager, is leading the privateer campaign.

“Yes, a privateers’ championship for people like Martin Prokop (pictured above), Valeriy Gorban, Yazeed Al Rajhi (and everybody else) would give these drivers the chance to win an FIA title with a World Rally Car,” Millener said.

“At the moment they want to compete at the top, but they compete against the works drivers, which is great, but they don’t go home with any prizes.  If you had a championship for these types of cars, which we know are still competitive, they’re very close in competition, there’s more than one manufacturer that has them available for customers.

“It would be a nice thing to attract some more customers and more people for the championship.  And commercially, a Privateers’ series would give them something to show their sponsors, that they’re in the fight for something, as opposed to, with no disrespect, the difference between coming fifth and tenth.

“At this level of competition there is not so much available coverage.  It becomes hard to keep sponsors onboard, and sponsors are the ones that allow them to be here.

“A championship for privateers within the world championship would also be a stepping stone again from WRC2 to WRC, because otherwise the gap in 2017 between the R5s and the 2017 cars will be a much bigger step,” Millener said.