Makes can Skip Rallies in '06

The chances of Mitsubishi and Skoda remaining in the World Rally Championship next year improved on Wednesday when the FIA confirmed that the manufacturers will be allowed to skip events

Makes can Skip Rallies in '06

Both manufacturers have voiced concerns that their rallying budgets do not justify them competing in the full championship and they had suggested that they be allowed to compete in just 13 rallies per year.

The FIA moved to acknowledge those requests on Wednesday when the World Motor Sport Council announced that the carmakers would be allowed to miss a maximum of three events next year.

A statement from the FIA state: "At the request of Mitsubishi and Skoda, exceptionally for 2006, the two manufacturers may benefit from a waiver to be absent from a maximum of three events in the World Rally Championship, two in Europe and one overseas. They cannot both be absent from the same event."

Although the FIA's decision will go some way to persuade Mitsubishi and Skoda to remain in the WRC long-term, the latter's recent run of dismal results is already believed to be putting pressure on the team's management to start making improvements.

In further moves aimed at cutting costs in the WRC, the FIA also confirmed that the back-to-back Rallye de France and Rally Catalunya events this year will be treated as paired events and both engines and chassis will be sealed for the two weekends. This will mean teams only need to build one asphalt car for the two rallies.

An FIA statement said: "If the car finishes the Rallye de France-Tour de Corse and the seals are found to be destroyed before the Rally Catalunya-Costa Daurada, a 60-second penalty may be imposed by the stewards."

The FIA also confirmed that Safety Cars will be permitted to cover stages on asphalt rallies.

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