Calls for better driver representation in WRC
By Jason Craig
Friday 22nd September, 2023 - 7:04pm
M-Sport Ford’s Team Principal believes the time has come for a World Rally Championship driver – or co-driver – to step up and take ownership of the subjects causing grievance amongst crews.
2003 World Rally champion Petter Solberg is the current vice-president of the drivers’ commission despite World Rally bosses repeatedly calling for someone familiar with the current workings of sport to take on the President’s role.
WRC Promoter sporting director Peter Thul has said if a name is put forward “we will accept” but, to date, there has not been one. He says that if change is to happen crews need a figurehead who will speak on their behalf and relay back to them what World Rally Championship stakeholders are saying.
“The ball is now in the field of the drivers,” explained Thul. “At the start of the Acropolis Rally, they (drivers and co-drivers) came and said, ‘Nothing is happening, what takes you so long?’ We want to help them understand because we want transparent communications. At the end of the day, we need a positive attitude towards our product – and we want to be fully transparent [with them].
“I repeatedly offered to the drivers to nominate a spokesperson. This will be done again to get somebody regular to WRC Commission, subject to approval, first as host then … with a voting right.”
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Richard Millener – the boss of Ott Tanak and Pierre-Louis Loubet – believes drivers and co-drivers cannot enact change by watching from the sidelines and said he completely sympathises with Thul.
“It is hard when drivers complain things are not working and things need to change. You then offer a position for one of them to have a seat on the board – but they do not want to do that,” he said.
“You must be prepared to be involved if you want change. Change is not easy and is open to lots of criticism so it is no easy task – but we really do need feedback from a current driver to help us.”
Asked if he had anyone in mind who would be a qualified candidate for the candidacy, Millener added: “Co-drivers are more familiar to this kind of role, and it would be great to have one of them on board, but often drivers have more clout due to them being the stars of the show.
“If no driver can help us then I would suggest Seb Marshall or Scott Martin; both have very good knowledge of the sport and come up with good ideas. I often discuss with them on events about ideas and things we need to consider when developing the sport.
“We need someone who is actively involved in the World Rally Championship at the moment as they have the best experience of what is going on,” he added.