Home' Motorsport Monday Africa : Issue 16 Contents The “Rally4Wales” pressure group has finally
reached agreement with the Motor Sports
Association and Natural Resources Wales that
will keep forest rallying alive in the principality
for the next three year. A petition to the Welsh
Assembly by the group has been withdrawn
following the agreement. The original impasse
came about after Natural Resources Wales
unilaterally imposed swingeing increases in the
cost of using forest roads, leading to widespread
outrage. It was suspected that the organisation
was either using rallying as a cash cow or trying
to bring it to a halt. Under the new agreement,
“Rally4Wales” will create a new, ‘not for profit’
enterprise working with organising clubs to
ensure that NRW forest roads used for rallying
are repaired to a standard agreed with NRW.
Part of this process will be extensive route
surveys pre-event, post-event and post-
repair using technology to demonstrate the
works completed. The new company set up by
“Rally4Wales” will directly complete the repair
work needed to the road infrastructure. This is a
completely new model of working for all parties.
Critically, the costs will be sustainable, working
out to be near identical to the previous 2015
MSA Forest rates for first and second use of
stages, plus RPI at approximately 0.8%. This is
now line with fee increases by forest owners in
England and Scotland.
PRESSURE GROUP SAVES RALLIES IN WALES
Rallying in Wales’
forests now secured!
Hyundai team boss Michel Nandan said he
is intent on finding a solution that will keep
test driver Kevin Abbring and British co-driver
Sebastian Marshall in the team next year. Their
chances of a front-line drive in next season’s
WRC evaporated when Thierry Neuville finally
agreed to stay in the squad for the fourth year
running. Otherwise, Abbring and Marshall, who
did much of the testing on Hyundai’s 2017-spec
i20, would have been highly likely taken one of
the three drives on offer. Now they could face
another season as a test crew.
“For the moment, nothing is decided for Kevin,”
said Nandan offering a ray of hope. “For us he
did a very good job and I would like to keep him
as a test driver, but I understand he would like
to do some rallies. We have to see if we can
combine something to try to make him happy for
next season. Of course, there will be more test
work next season as well.”
So far Abbring and Marshall have contested only
three WRC events this year, with a best result
of ninth in Finland. They were also out on the
Catalunya Rally and may contest Rally GB but
in an R5 car. Currently Dani Sordo, Neuville and
Hayden Paddon are tied into Hyundai until the
end of 2018.
NANDAN: I WANT TO KEEP ABBRING
Abbring, much in demand
with Nandan and Hyundai!
M-sport boss Malcolm Wilson has lobbed a
firework into the row over WRC running
order regulations by saying he thinks the current
system should remain next season. His views
will put him in direct conflict with VW star
Sébastien Ogier, who constantly said how unfair
and unequal is the current system, which says
the championship leader has to go first on the
road for the opening two days of each event. His
frustrations have even led him to hint that he
might quit if the rule is not changed for 2017.
But despite this and FIA rally director Jarmo
Mahonen admitting this year’s regulations were
“a step too far,” Wilson says he’s confident the
current position could remain. A decision is
expected later this month or early in November.
“My vote would be to stay as we are,” Wilson
said. “We’ve been crying out to have different
winners and this year we’ve had six different
drivers winning six consecutive rounds. Surely
that’s a good thing?”
He added that he also thought calendar changes
for next season and new tech regulations would
even up the field. “Don’t get me wrong,” he
added. “I sympathise [with Ogier], but having
Corsica move to April will make a big difference.
It will remove that long run of gravel rallies
which caused so much of the problem this year.
And, don’t forget, I’m pretty sure there’s going
to be some reliability issues with the new cars.
I would be very happy for the running order to
stay as it is.”
However Ogier insisted: “What we have today
is not fair. I want something that’s fair for next
year, it’s that simple.”
Kris Meeke, the man Ogier has identified as
one of his big threats next season, says he’s
not bothered about the running order. “Yves
[Matton, Citroën team principal] has called
me a couple of times but I’ve told him I don’t
care what the decision is,” said the Ulsterman.
“Whatever the rules, the best driver is going to
win the title.”
WILSON FIRES UP RUNNING ORDER ROW
Wilson won’t find any support
from Ogier with his ideas
Meeke doesn’t really
mind where he starts...
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