WRC the future: Part 3, the Stages




In our look at how to enhance the World Rally Championship, we have looked back at an overview and the cars, today we look at the format and the stages.

We all dream of stages of the past, giant stages run once with a decentralised model.  Rallies that don’t conform to a three day, spectator friendly, repeated stage, short tests but really that is not realistic with current rallying.

A need for WRC commercial viability and small budgets for both the teams and the events really do mean compactness is key.

A heavy reliance on volunteers to mark out the route of the rally, to ensure the road closures are set, to keep spectators and wildlife safe and to make sure government bodies and land owners are happy all mean that massive long stages or huge rallies aren’t viable.

Additionally rally raids or even specialised targa events have taken over the huge routes.  Different cars, different business models and different ways they make stages all mean that a different arm of the sport has taken over the traditional style of rally.

We might complain about rallying at the moment but we shouldn’t forget that you don’t just show up and race like you do at a race track, you need a whole lot more help, more marshals, more radio people, more timing people, more police presence, more commitment from residents and land owners.

So what should it be?  And importantly should any gimmicks be employed?


A three of four day rally is ideal.  Every stage should equally count towards the overall result and Rally2 should be employed.  Afterall in what other sport do you have an issue in the first five minutes and you’re done?  In road racing if you have an issue on Friday morning, you still get to compete on Sunday.  So what we have now works and I support it.

What needs to happen though is to get away from a strict 4 or 6 stages, with the same stages looped in the morning and afternoon.  Start at 8, finish at 6.  Really not imaginative.  Run some proper night stages, change the stages up during the day.  You can have the same start and stop points, but cars can take different paths – the road closures would move but that shouldn’t be such an issue.  For night stages you start later the next day.

Spectator super specials are not something I particularly like but I do see their value to bring the sport to the fans. It doesn’t have to be last each day and to move it to Sunday could make a different way to end the odd rally – not each one but could be worth an experiment.

So what about the Power Stage?  Not something that I like so much but, within reason it does give something else to fight for.  Perhaps to make it more interesting and sort some of the road order complaining, the fastest three get bonus points and also get to select their start spot for the next rally…



The Stages

Beyond what was said above, what should the stages look like?  Should they be all short, all one surface?  In all honesty, this is where things could improve too.  The compromises that drivers and teams would have to make if you had a stage that was 20km tarmac, 20km gravel for example.

Each rally should have a couple of massive stages – more than 50km.  The best roads should be sort, not just those close to the population area.  Capital cities be damned, rally is for the regions.  In Australia for example the rally in Coffs Harbour is ideal, a few hours from Sydney, a few hours from the Gold Coast.  The coastal communities get some world class events and the city people get to go and see the country side – have an adventure.

Though some spectator shuttles, like the ones Michelin ran this year are needed.  The fewer crazy drivers on narrow country roads, the better.



So what should happen

In short, this is realistic and would improve the show

  • Night stages
  • Longer stages
  • Stages with mixed surfaces
  • Use the best roads
  • Change up the stages during the day
  • A slight rework in the Power stage.

Ultimately there is only so much that can be done here to improve the show and firm up the long term future for the sport.  The promotion is important and will be up next.


By Sam Tickell,  November 2014

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