WRC - Teams split over radical WRC plans

Plans for a radical overhaul of the World Rally Championship format have been met with mixed views in the service park.

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France's Sebastien Ogier (R) and his co-driver France's Julien Ingrassa celebrate as they stand on their VW Polo WRC after winning the Sweden Rally of the second round of the FIA World Rally Championship in Hagfors (Reuters)

The potential for the power stage element of a WRC round being used to decide who wins a rally will be discussed by the WRC Commission later this month.

Volkswagen team principal Jost Capito backs the plan and says it could give the WRC wider appeal.

"Imagine the excitement at the end of the rally," said Capito, "when a guy jumps out of the car and he's won the event in a real final-stage shoot-out; it's a great story.

"The only way this thing works is if these drivers become global stars and we need to do something to build them up into that. And what we need to do is to build the show.

"I had this discussion with Marcus [Gronholm] when we talked about this kind of idea a few years ago. Marcus said to me: 'Argh! If that comes, I'm not driving anymore."

"So I said: 'OK, that's fine. You go. I will get a driver who is cheaper, still wants to win; there will always be the guy who wants to win.

"'You can go home, buy the used car, pay for your fuel and parts and have fun in Finland, but nobody will remember you in three months. There will be young drivers who will love this format, they will become world champions and earn more money than you do now because they became real stars.'"

Current drivers were not so impressed with the potential for competing for three days, building a big lead over their nearest rival and then losing their place on the final stage.

Citroen's Mikko Hirvonen said: "That sounds really stupid. What's the point of doing three days rallying if you can decide the result in the final stage?

"In many rallies, if you look at last year me and Seb [Loeb] were first and second for the rally. What's the point in spending this money and then you get to the final stage and decide the rally?"

Hirvonen's boss Yves Matton added: "I agree that we have to do something with Sunday, with the final day of the rally.

"But there are many other ideas without changing the whole philosophy of the rally.

"Maybe the best idea is to keep the power stage, but take it outside of the classification of the rally. Once drivers don't fear losing the place they drive for for three days, then they will all push to the limit on the power stage."

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