New event format for World Rally Championship

Radical, cost-cutting proposals for the 2004 FIA World Rally Championship were approved by the World Motor Sport Council yesterday, including a new event timetable adopting the 'Mille Pistes' concept of recceing and 'flexi-servicing', and the controversial points-scoring eligibility of only two-car factory teams. Testing will be restricted, a limit on tyres has been approved, and the structure of the WRC Commission has been revised

New event format for World Rally Championship

The crews currently undertake a recce on the Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday before most rallies, twice going through each special stage to check their pacenotes. This means that most rallies, including the recce and the competitive stages, endures for almost a week. The 'Milles Piste' system will reduce each rally to five days.

All crews must use either their own rally car or a standard car during the recce. The revised event timetable provides for the first recce of the complete route on the Wednesday; the first recce, scrutineering, the shakedown and the ceremonial start on the Thursday; and the second recce of the day's stages, followed by the stages themselves, on the Friday, Saturday and Sunday, which will end with the ceremonial finish.

For events on which darkness falls relatively early, such as the Monte Carlo and the Swedish, the FIA has approved an alternative timetable. The crews will still have only one run through the stages at slow speeds on the Wednesday but, when the rally gets under way on the Friday, they will have no second recce. The organisers will check the stages beforehand and warn crews of any new potential dangers at the service before the stage is run.

The traditional pre-event test will also be dropped, and testing will be banned in the country of a rally from the Saturday before the event until the end of the rally. Testing outside Europe will be prohibited, and a total testing ban throughout August and November will be implemented.

The FIA will also adopt 'flexi-servicing', where two-car teams must service the cars one after the other, rather than at the same time, thus requiring fewer personnel. A regulation covering this process will be submitted to the December meeting of the World Motor Sport Council.

Each rally will have only one service park, with separate tyre-fitting and refuelling zones as required. A maximum of tyres equal to 10 times the number of tyre-fitting zones will be allocated per driver.

The FIA WRC Commission will henceforth consist of its chairman, the chairman of the Rally Commission, three factory team representatives (from the teams finishing first and last in the Manufacturers championship, plus a third elected by the teams), and three event promoters (one from Europe, one from outside Europe, plus a third elected by the event organisers). A simple majority will be required, with the chairman having a casting vote. The representatives of the commercial rights holder (ISC) and the FIA's external relations department will attend meetings but will be ineligible to vote.

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