FIA rally director calls for short WRC stage format

Jarmo Mahonen issued particular criticism to Wales Rally GB

FIA rally director Jarmo Mahonen believes that all World Rally Championship rounds should be run across short stages of around 10km length.

Mahonen has also stated that each rally should follow a template, with two loops of short stages and a lunchtime service, after a period during which individual rally organisers were afforded far more freedom with itineraries.

He singled out Rally GB’s 2017 format for particular criticism.

“I’m sorry to say this, but in the UK, how long shall we allow it that the events dictate the format?” Mahonen told Autosport.

“In Wales we had a day of 140km and a long time (with no service) and on the first day, no service at all.

“We have given freedom to the organisers to come with their strengths and do the rallies as they would like to have it, but I have to say that we have failed.

“In some cases it works, in some cases it doesn’t, but we need standardisation for the rallies.”

Such standardisation would include short stages and no repeat of the 80km stage run at Rally Mexico last season.

“My personal thoughts about this are that you have 10km stages,” Mahonen said.

“Then you have lots of stages generating lots of news for social media.

“You remember we talked about the 80km stage in Mexico last year. What happened in that stage? Nothing and the people switched off because they were bored.

“There are still people who think we need 600 stage miles.

“I say rallying has come through evolution, we can’t go back to the old times. Rallying how we used to know it, it doesn’t exist anymore.

“This is racing on gravel. Here if you lose 10 seconds on the first stage, it’s done.

“The days when you could think, ‘I’m going to attack on the second day…’ These days don’t exist. And these cars are not made for endurance.”

He also feels the service park has to be visited more often.

“I’m not in favour of remote services,” said Mahonen.

“We have to remember we are building this championship for the manufacturers and when you go to the service park, the manufacturers are investing millions in the hospitality, but you go out in the morning and come back late in the evening.

“What can you do with the guests? This is why Hyundai has built ‘Terminal 5’ there in the service park. If you want to destroy that, it can be easily done, this is my personal view.

“Today’s rallies should be compact and they need a heart and that heart is the service park, where entertainment is offered.”

He also criticised Rally GB for the length of its road sections. Only 20.6 percent of the rally’s 1484km route was competitive stages.

“The stage mileage should be 25 percent of the total route,” said Mahonen.

“We see some of the events which are getting under or close to 20 percent in the UK and in Sweden and this is touring, it’s not rallying anymore.”

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