WRC the future: Part 2, the cars



Earlier this month we brought you an opinion piece about the future of the WRC.  We promised more so here is part 2 of the WRC Future; The cars.

The current situation isn’t so bad.  The WRC cars offers a great sound, massive pace and a suitable marketing platform for those wanting to globally market a hatch.  The ladder system also has merit.  The R1 to 5 system should offer a great continental and national bank of cars that offers a place to learn, a place to move up the ranks and a good marketplace for the cars to be sold through Europe, the Americas, Asia and Australia.

When we look at the future, there should be some fundamental rules:

  • The WRC class should be special, something more than R5
  • The formula should be open with BoP employed to keep it tight and costs down
  • A global marketplace needs to exist for junior and continental categories
  • All categories should be achievable for tuners or garagistes
  • Costs for all categories need to be slashed
  • A marketplace should exist for all categories – meaning all manufacturers have to offer their cars to private runners
  • The formula should allow for all types of cars, not just mid size hatchbacks

The WRC class

The first question that needs to be raised is will the formula be open – to the extent of sportscar ACO racing, a semi-spec formula like the current engine regulations or spec racing.  We would like to see an open formula – with certain rules around it to contain costs.  It would probably be too early for the WRC to go down expensive development costs to suit the next generation of hybrid technology – nor would a silent car be suitable for this sort of sport.  The noise, the expectation of a car through the forest is essential to the show.

And we need to learn something from F1…

Perhaps, it the WRC and Red Bull wanted to establish a commission, they could look at the next generation of environmentally responsible cars that are made for car people – something with a presence, if you will.

Whatever happens the WRC class cars must be fast and loose.  With the few very fast accidents we have seen recently, it would be wise to lower the cornering speeds and in an effort to make it, well, not boring – the cars need to slide a little, be a little bit more spectacular in the corners.  This is where some controversial rules come into force.

Spectacular cars need rear wheel drive and less sophisticated suspension.  Or something else – if you have any ideas, let us know!

It is also important that there is a marketplace for these cars to encourage private entries and even tuners to enter cars.  It should not be down solely to M-Sport to supply privateers.

The take away points from this are:

  1. More affordable
  2. More spectacular
  3. Different segments of cars to be allowed in
  4. Research what will work into the next decade – to engage the fan

Easy right?




The other classes

To be honest, WRC2 – the R5 cars are pretty much on the money for us.  They don’t have the oomph of a WRC car but they make a great European Rally Championship car and work fantastically well for WRC2.  The same is true for the R3 cars.  There  are many manufacturers making cars, tuners are in making cars and the costs seem reasonable – although things could always be cheaper.

The problem is the volume and getting the cars across the world at a reasonable cost.  There could be two business models to look at here – 1. the GT3/GT4 sportscar model that has brought a sportscar model, rulebook and BoP to national series around the world.  The alternative is to revisit the Production Rally Car business model – update it for the current sporting and economic model and for more than Mitsubishi and Subaru.

The key things that are needed are cost control, a BoP model that can be adopted world wide and a world wide marketplace.

What about other categories?

We have been hearing a lot about Maxi cars from South America or New Zealand’s rule book.  Both of these moves need a huge mindset for rally.  It would require a move to a Nascar style car – some sort of spec car with a skin over the top.


‘Maxi’ rally cars are a formula originally developed in Argentina where the basis of each car is a North-South engine mated to a control gearbox casing and control rear differential.

The cars all use a standard design safety cage together with control front and rear sub-frames, wishbones, hubs & uprights and are fitted to series production car body shells.


Alternatively, you have the Kelsey Racing MC2 a Tube Framed car out of a NZ barn that looks like a Peugeot but is powered by a Formula Renault engine.  What would stop national series or even international series looking down this road?

Tube frame – cars that have little to do with the car that they look like but have greater possibilities of going where the money is without expensive new equipment.  Yes it would be a very big departure for rally fans to embrace this but when you look and see the amount of Group N cars still in use – cars that should be competing in historic championships, a solution is needed.

If this article has taught me anything, it is that the solution is very complicated.  You have many variants to worry about and they don’t correlate.  One wish directly opposes another.  Marketing, reputation, spectator wants, environmental aspects, the maketplace and so much more all demand attention.

We have to accept Group B is over and will never come back – and nor should it.  Group A worked for its while, so did the WRC class that came in, in the late 1990s.  The current class works well too.  But to take WRC back to the headlines, something more is needed from the cars.  Creating it, and a worldwide marketplace for cars is possible.  Just not easy.

Up next, the format.

By Sam Tickell,  October 2014

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