Cyril Abiteboul on the future of the WRC: “We must take back control”

Cyril Abiteboul on the future of the WRC: “We must take back control”
Cyril Abiteboul on the future of the WRC: “We must take back control”

Little by little, but still too slowly for some people’s tastes, the WRC is trying to get back on track. The promoter of the discipline recently presented his action plan for the coming years. Faced with these announcements (USA in 2026, new cameras, intensification of the presence on social networks, etc.), the reactions of the actors and the FIA ​​were quite positive.

If this point was very important for establishing a guideline, it is even more essential. This concerns technical regulations. On this side too the news appears to be good since no change should ultimately take place for 2025 and 2026 as suggested by the team bosses in Porto.

If on June 11 the World Council confirms that the only deadline that matters is 2027, the teams will have succeeded in getting rid of the directions desired by the working group which was hastily created in December and which will not have convinced. In this somewhat calmer atmosphere, Cyril Abiteboul, never short of ideas, suggested another path that the WRC should explore.

After the proposals of the task force and those of the promoter, I believe that we must not miss the opportunity to have a strategic reflection on sport, on its governance and its fragmentation “, he says. “ I am aware that very concrete announcements have been made to reassure us, but we cannot only have a catalog of actions on what will happen in the next 6 months. If we want to make big changes in rallying, we need to see far and think 360 degrees. »

No longer be a guest

In order to inform an audience somewhat perplexed by his comments, the director of Hyundai Motorsport clarified his thoughts. “ When Liberty arrived in F1, they revealed their three priorities: China, the USA and digital. We all looked at each other smiling thinking they had just bought F1 for $8 billion and only had three words to say to us! (laugh). Eight years later, digital has been achieved. There are 3 grand prix in the USA and for China, it is more a combination of circumstances with covid which prevented this from happening. There was no need for a very complicated concept. »

“In the WRC, we often complain about the format of the events. We are discussing it with the FIA ​​and the promoter, but this aspect is not decided by these two bodies. It is the organizers who establish it. For example, we have to visit certain cities and the service park is often part of the organizers’ business plan. This produces complexity. If tomorrow we all decide that we no longer want a service park, is this possible in the current structure? I do not think so. »

“Among other examples I can cite, there was a 4 minute gap between cars on Friday in Portugal. Who do you think made this decision? The race director. Can you imagine in any other sport a local person making this type of decision? While other categories have complete control in many decisions regarding promotion, organization, day structure and even from a sporting perspective, in the WRC the two governing entities do not have this power. . Someone said “we need to stop being guests at our own events.” »We have to take back control and I’m not just talking about the teams. Without this, every change we want to make will not serve its purpose due to the fragmentation of decisions. »

If the Frenchman’s reasoning holds, such a questioning of the way the WRC operates will not happen in a few weeks. Do the FIA ​​and the promoter have the will, the means and above all the desire to control everything and replace the organizers? This promises more great debates in the months (years?) to come.

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