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Hyundai boss calls for WRC event format review

Hyundai boss Cyril Abiteboul has called for a review of the World Rally Championship event format ahead of a meeting with the series’ promoter to discuss the championship’s future.

Thierry Neuville, Martijn Wydaeghe, Hyundai World Rally Team Hyundai i20 N Rally1

Abiteboul believes the championship's event format can be improved to increase its appeal for teams, drivers and fans.

The former Renault Formula 1 boss’ call to action came in response to comments made by Toyota’s Kalle Rovanpera in the post event Rally Sardinia press conference.

FEATURE: WRC Sardinia postcard

Rovanpera feels a fresh set of tyres specifically for the rally ending Power Stage should be handed out to avoid crews from having to tyre save on Sunday mornings and therefore improve the spectacle for fans.

“I think it is quite clear, the FIA has to make a rule to keep new tyres before the Power Stage,” said Rovanpera when asked about the frustration of tyre saving in the Rally Sardinia post-event press conference.

“I think it is not a big add to the cost and it is quite easy to make a tyre fitting zone before the Power Stage.

“Like in Portugal, it is the same thing, when there is no fight it feels bad for the fans. We are actually going very slow on the stage and you do it because everybody else does this also. It is not so nice for the fans and not for us either. I think that could be a solution.”

When asked by Autosport if he agreed with Rovanpera, Abiteboul went further suggesting that the entire weekend format should undergo a review.

“I think Sunday doesn’t work. I do not believe myself that only small fixes will address the problem that we have with Sunday." he said.

“I think with the weekend format that culminates on Sunday is something that doesn’t work and I think we should review in general before trying to fix a problem that is a consequence of the Power Stage, which was already a fix for another problem. I think we should have a fresh look at the weekend.

Cyril Abiteboul, Team principal Hyundai World Rally Team

Cyril Abiteboul, Team principal Hyundai World Rally Team

Photo by: Romain Thuillier / Hyundai Motorsport

“It is not just Sunday I think every single day needs to have its own narrative. In movies and in most sports there is a climax and we need to have one in rally.

“Friday needs to stand for something, Saturday needs to stand for something and Sunday needs to stand for something. We have an accumulation of stages and suddenly by Sunday it is normally game done. We need to look at the whole thing.”

Abiteboul will join WRC drivers and team representatives, in attending a meeting with the championship promoter today to share ideas to improve the discipline’s wider appeal.

The meeting follows comments made by Hyundai driver Thierry Neuville, who has called for the WRC to do more to increase its popularity.

“There is a presentation from the promoter on Wednesday and I can tell you I want to be a part of everything and contribute as much as I want to contribute,” Abiteboul said ahead of the meeting.

“I love this sport but there are some things we need and we can fix.”

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