Rally News

WRC drivers back “more intense” sprint format trial

WRC drivers back “more intense” sprint format trial

The WRC is conducting a trial of a new shorter format at the Italian Island gravel rally which it hopes could offer event organisers more flexibility and help improve the promotion of the championship. A move to vary event formats, to include endurance and sprint rallies from next season, is a key part of the WRC and the FIA’s future vision for top-level rallying.

This weekend will see crews contest a 16-stage rally covering 54 kilometres less than last year’s Rally Sardinia, which will be completed within a 48-hour window. It means shakedown moves from Thursday to Friday morning ahead of four stages [two passes through a loop of two stages] across the afternoon. Saturday will comprise eight stages, punctuated by a tyre fitting zone instead of a service, before four more stages on Sunday morning.

Speaking ahead of the rally the drivers have largely supported the WRC’s new format. Eight-time world champion Sebastien Ogier says he is “convinced” it can work but believes there could be some tweaks made to further improve it. 

“Honestly, I like it, it is also not perfect but it a first try,” Ogier told Motorsport.com. “The idea of first and second pass of stages in the same loop is not ideal with the risk that stage could become blocked, that is not optimal. I am convinced that it could be a good format. I like that there is some organiser trying this.

“It doesn’t change how we do the race. For sure, there are less kilometres so there is maybe less opportunities and less room for having any issue. To recover from an issue on a short rally is nearly impossible.”

Hyundai’s Ott Tanak believes the reduced format could create a more intense competition with crews now expected to hit the ground running from the start.

“It’s a bit [more intense] for sure. I would say it is mostly changing the Friday with half a day now, and it is very critical for the road position for the rest of the rally. Clearly here the road position is crucial, so we need to be in the rhythm immediately. In some ways for sure more intense.

“It is obviously very busy, there is no free time at all with very short nights. It is not easy, but it is bit more exciting probably.”

It is a view echoed by the championship leader Thierry Neuville who feels the WRC could go even further and make some events even shorter in the future.

“Timing-wise once it starts it will be more intense for us, but genuinely over the week so far it…

Click Here to Read the Full Original Article at Motorsport.com – RALLY – Stories…