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What the teams made of WRC’s vision to improve promotion

The World Rally Championship’s long-term vision to raise the profile of the category has garnered a positive response from teams.

The WRC Promoter presented its vision to its key stakeholder group, which included Hyundai, Toyota, Ford, Stellantis and Skoda alongside representatives from the FIA during a meeting at Rally Portugal on Saturday.

Improving the promotion of the championship has been earmarked as a key goal by teams and drivers that have been critical of the WRC Promoter in recent months.

On Saturday the WRC Promoter showcased a detailed plan to address the concerns and boost the promotion of the category. While details of all the concepts are yet to be disclosed, the Promoter announced a clear roadmap to a USA event in 2026 that includes direct investment and involvement in event promotion.

It also committed to moves to increase fan attendance at events through the development of on-site fan experiences, alongside a plan to invest in social and digital media.

The presentation was met positively by teams with the onus now on all the stakeholders to work together to deliver the goals.

Toyota – Vision offers clear direction

Toyota team principal Jari-Matti Latvala was not only impressed by the strategy’s clear direction but also pleased to see more commitment from the WRC Promoter.    

“Overall what we were presented there is good things and they are really pushing for Rally USA to happen and that is one of the very important points,” Latvala told Autosport.

Jari-Matti Latvala, Team principal Toyota Gazoo Racing,  Elfyn Evans, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota GR Yaris Rally1

Jari-Matti Latvala, Team principal Toyota Gazoo Racing, Elfyn Evans, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota GR Yaris Rally1

Photo by: McKlein / Motorsport Images

“They have a different approach for the future to get more excitement and more engaged fans for the sport. Overall, I must say it was positive to see what ideas they have.

“For me, it seems there is a good direction now and it is clear as to what they want to do. I would say it is a bit more under control and I think it is good to have that commitment. I can see that there is more commitment coming from the promoter and that is a good thing.”

Hyundai – WRC and FIA need to be the driving force in rally

The WRC Promoter’s vision was described by Hyundai team principal Cyril Abiteboul as a “strong catalogue of measures and action” although the former Renault Formula 1 boss is concerned that the WRC’s fragmented governance could prove a stumbling block in achieving the ultimate goals. Abiteboul called from the promoter and the FIA to have more control of all aspects of the championship.

“There was absolutely nothing wrong with any of the things that were presented and quite the opposite, with the better calendar with an event in the USA, and nothing wrong with a slightly different broadcasting strategy,” Abiteboul told Autosport. “It was a strong catalogue of measures and action.

“I think we need to look in general how the sport is structured and the stakeholders and see how we can have more control over the sport. I think what is really missing is the ability to steer the sport in the direction that we want.

“We need to think about the changes that need to be done so that the promoter and the FIA together can be the driving force in rally, because any of the measures we implement will fall short due to the fragmented governance we have in rally.

“If you ask me for a particular example of what I was trying to refer to, we all complain about the format of the event. We all talk to the promoter and the FIA, but we know that the format of the event is not decided by them, but the event organisers. This is quite important.

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

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

Photo by: McKlein / Motorsport Images

“You can see that other categories are in full control of a number of decisions from a promotion perspective and from an organisation perspective. The governing bodies are actually not in control. We need to stop being guests at our events and we need to regain control because any change that we want to implement will fall short due to the fragmentation of the decision.”

M-Sport-Ford: Now it is time to deliver

Commitment to a USA round for 2026 has been well received by M-Sport given its ties to America through Ford, which currently offers semi-factory support to the British team.

Team principal Richard Millener has been among those pushing to improve the WRC’s promotion and has been impressed by the “clear strategy” for the future.

“I think if we can deliver what was promised then I think it is really positive,” Millener told Autosport.

“It was a clear strategy for the next few years on what they want to do and obviously they have announced a very clear approach to deliver the USA event, that alone won’t save everything we need to do, but it is really big bold statement to begin with and then a lot of good things to come after that.

“Now the key is to actually deliver it and now we have had some meetings with the FIA about the 2027 technical framework and there have been some good decisions about that, and we know that they have to be now finalised and delivered as soon as possible.

“We now need to be doing stuff weekly but what was shown was for me positive, and now we have to act on the words. I hope we can do that.”

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