Two-car team ruling approved by FIA

The controversial ruling to expand the 2004 World Rally Championship to 16 events, but restrict manufacturer teams to just two cars each, was confirmed on Tuesday by the FIA

Two-car team ruling approved by FIA

The decision will have a wide-reaching impact on the WRC, as many of the teams have already signed third drivers after a previous decision to limit all third cars to drivers who had not finished a WRC event on the podium in the last three years. Peugeot and Citroen are amongst those to have been caught out by the FIA's change of heart.

It's now been announced that manufacturers may only enter two cars for points-scoring purposes on all rounds of the championship. That means that Freddy Loix and Simon Jean-Joseph, recently signed as third drivers by Peugeot and Citroen respectively, have an uncertain immediate future.

The new raft of rule changes approved today also means that gravel crews will be banned, while the 'Milles Pistes' recce system will also be implemented. Crews will only be allowed two recce runs of each stage, with the second round of these runs to take place on the mornings of the special stages themselves. All recce runs will have to be done in either standard road cars or the actual rally car.

The 16-round calendar will allow the inclusion of events in Mexico and Japan. Teams had proposed a fourteen-round championship, amid fears that travelling costs for 16 rounds would be too high. At least one team, Ford, fear they will not have the budget to run a 16-round series next year.

The announcement is even more stunning to those in rallying than the FIA's original proposals about third drivers. The about-turn on third entries has come just as manufacturers were beginning to accept them and sign drivers. The recce system and the expanded calendar, meanwhile, have been pushed through in spite of opposition from teams and leading drivers.

The FIA's statement made reference to proposed testing restrictions and a new servicing system, but full details on these will only be submitted next month.

Here is the 2004 calendar announced by the FIA World Council:

January 23-25*
February 6-8*
March 12-14
April 30-May2
May 14-16
May 28-30
June 25-27
July 16-18
August 6-8
August 20-22
September 3-5
September 17-19
October 15-17
October 15-17
October 29-31
November 12-14

*Monte Carlo and Sweden are exempt from the new recce system next year.

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