Pirelli calls for calm after pull-outs
|By David Evans||Tuesday, December 16th 2008, 11:35 GMT|
Pirelli's motorsport director Paul Hembery has called for calm in the wake of the departure of Suzuki and Subaru from the World Rally Championship this week.
Subaru announced the decision to pull out of the WRC this morning, following yesterday's news of the suspension of Suzuki's year-old world championship programme.
Hembery, the man who committed Pirelli to a £10 million investment as the control tyre supplier to the WRC, is still confident the series will be strengthened for future seasons.
"What's happening now is a re-shaping of the WRC," he said. "We've got the new technical regulations coming for 2010 and I'm enormously excited about that season.
"Yes, 2009 will be a tough year - it's going to be a tough year worldwide. It's going to be a transitional season for the WRC. But I'm very excited about the future.
"We've got manufacturers ready to commit cars to the new formula. Manufacturers like FIAT, Volkswagen and Peugeot will, I'm sure, have cars, and Citroen and Ford are going to build cars.
"It's not like we're taking a step into the dark here, we're stepping into an exciting period where the cars are ready to go in a much more cost-effective championship."
Hembery believes the WRC still offers the best return on investment in motorsport and says that return will improve as the FIA's latest raft of cost-cutting is implemented.
"A WRC programme is going to cost a tenth of what it would cost a manufacturer to go to Formula One," said Hembery. "There's no doubting the value of a WRC programme in these cost-conscious times. And, with the new global promoter deal coming, this is just the right time to get into WRC.
"I'm not just trying to talk this thing up, there's no doubt the loss of Subaru is sad for the sport, but we have to look ahead. There are enough doom and gloom merchants around who will be ready to stick the knife into WRC, but they don't see the sport from the inside like we do.
"We have to be pragmatic about next season and use it to build the platform to launch the sport into 2010. Believe me, the WRC is going in the right direction with the right manufacturers involved and the right people behind it."