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Increase in tyre fitting zones tipped for 2024 WRC

Abandoning the central service park model is not on the table for the 2024 World Rally Championship, but the amount of remote and more flexible tyre fitting zones could increase.

Service park

Service park

M-Sport

The WRC is currently evaluating its event format structure for the future having faced criticism from drivers, teams and fans this year.

This has resulted in a package of format tweaks for next year that is set to be proposed and discussed at the next FIA World Motor Sport Council on December 6, following a discussion at the last meeting in October.

At the Acropolis Rally this year the WRC Promoter stated it was open to moving away from a central service park model which has served the championship for more than 20 years. This concept sees crews tackle stages and then return to the service park for midday service at most events, before then returning at the end of the day.

It was also suggested that an increase in tyre fitting zones that are less regulated could be a way to enhance the competition and maximise the stage kilometres completed at events. Under current FIA regulations, time fitting zones last 15 minutes. During this time, the crew and two members of the team can work on the car but only with equipment and parts that have been carried in the rally car through the stages.

A team service car can transport extra tyres to this zone along with any items that are deemed of a safety nature, for example, a windscreen or seatbelts should these need to be replaced. 

The FIA has confirmed to Autosport that the central service park model will remain in place but has hinted that more tyre fitting zones could be introduced next year as part of a wider package of format tweaks.

“No. That is all about organisers making plans years in advance,” said FIA road sport director Andrew Wheatley to Autosport when asked if changes to abandon the central service park have been proposed for next year.

Service park, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT

Photo by: Toyota Racing

Service park, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT

“I think what we can see for example at the Central European Rally on Friday with the remote tyre zones. I think remote tyre zones are going to be a bigger part of the mix because to be able to get the mileage we want to achieve within the time that is available in the weekend, we will need them more.”

Autosport also understands that a move to reduce the minimum event stage mileage to 250km to increase schedule flexibility at rallies is included in the package, alongside tweaks to improve Sunday’s format, and the possibility of introducing a new points structure.

Wheatley says the focus of the proposed format tweaks are geared to maximise WRC events for all stakeholders. 

“What came from the World Motor Sport Council is that the DNA of rally is very precious and special, and we need to make sure that whatever is done to try and take that forward respects the spirit of the event,” Wheatley added.

“So, there are a couple of issues that we are working on going forward the first is how do we optimise the rally format. How do we make the best possible experience for all kinds of stakeholders.

“It is about trying to make a smooth path that allows everybody to get a bit more without compromising the concept of the event. We have to try to ensure we focus the energy of the event on the most useful activities. That doesn’t mean there will be a rigid format.

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“It will be minimum three-day event. The principle is Thursday night to Sunday lunchtime but how will fill that time may be different depending on what the specific events are.

“The opportunity that we have to understand is every organiser has very specific challenges, but all the rallies will be in the same window, but it is a question of how we can compress the format to make sure we get the best value from that time.”

The FIA has confirmed that points will no longer be awarded to the fastest three WRC2 competitors on the Power Stage in events from 2024.

Currently, the quickest trio of WRC2 crews on the rally-deciding test score points towards their end-of-year totals on a descending scale of 3-2-1.

While a WRC2 competitor will still be able to register overall Power Stage points, should they set a top-five fastest outright time, there will no longer be a separate WRC2 classification.

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