WRC considering F1-style group asphalt tests to reduce costs

The World Rally Championship is considering implementing Formula 1-style group tests in an attempt to curb rising costs

The majority of the teams are lobbying the FIA to reduce the number of test days available in the WRC, which was raised from 42 to 55 for 2017 when the latest generation of cars were introduced.

An innovative approach to cost reduction could be achieved through a pre-event group test, with all four manufacturers running in the same area on rotated test roads - in the style of F1's in-season tyre and development tests.

That measure is currently being discussed for asphalt rallies only, as the logistics of trying to make a group test work on a gravel surface that degrades quicker pose a more complex challenge.

With most teams currently preparing for Rally Finland, Autosport has learned that a five-day test on location close to the event's Jyvaskyla base has fixed costs of close to £110,000 - which covers only getting the cars and team to the test, and not the cost of running or repairing the cars.

With a testing budget of more than £1m required in the WRC, most of the teams believe the FIA needs to step in.

Toyota's Tommi Makinen is comfortable with the level of testing currently allowed, but M-Sport's Rich Millener told Autosport: "For gravel, we need to cut down the number of days available, that's a fairly route-one fix - probably one the drivers won't like, but the costs are getting silly.

"[But] for asphalt, we have an opportunity to follow F1's lead and do something interesting with the teams together.

"For most of the [asphalt] rallies, we can find four representative roads in an area and share them, rotating around them.

"That way we share the cost of the roads and create something the promoter and the fans can get excited about - we'd probably generate as much exposure from those tests as we would from another rally.

"At the same time, I think the FIA needs to have a long look at how much testing some WRC2 teams are doing.

"At that level, the amount of testing done is directly related to the size of budget a team or driver has and it's in danger of skewing the series.

"All the FIA needs to do is offer similar, but scaled down, regulations to the WRC2 teams as it does for the main WRC field."

FIA rally director Yves Matton told Autosport: "Testing is a topic being discussed and we want to work with the manufacturers concerning potential cost reduction, something we are clearly in favour of.

"One of the principles we have to look at is general cost reduction across different areas where there is no benefit to fans and spectators, no real return on the investment towards the show.

"Testing is potentially one of those areas."

Previous article Japan and Chile now both expected to host 2019 WRC rounds
Next article Rally GB reimagined by the Tour de France