WRC gets entry cap and fixed line-ups

Fixed driver line-ups and a maximum entry size are to be introduced for the 2002 World Rally Championship, following Wednesday's meeting of the sport's decision-making body, the FIA World Motor Sport Council

WRC gets entry cap and fixed line-ups

The regulation changes come as a result of recommendations from the newly-formed Rallies Commission, a think tank composed of representatives of the manufacturers, sponsors and event organisers, as well as WRC TV boss David Richards.

Each manufacturer involved in the WRC will be obliged to enter all events on the calendar with a minimum of two cars and a maximum of three - but two of the entries must remain fixed through the whole season, except under exceptional circumstances.

The move is an attempt to increase the user-friendliness of the series to a growing TV fan base. It will reduce the impact of specialists on events such as the Swedish rally, or the WRC's trio of asphalt rallies, and lessen the chances of 'lower-profile' drivers beating the established stars.

Rally insiders cite the case of Harri Rovanpera, who is only running a limited programme with Peugeot this year, causing confusion for the casual observer by winning the Swedish Rally.

If a manufacturer enters three cars, the two best placed will be eligible to score makes' championship points - a change from the existing rule, which says that a manufacturer must nominate its two potential point-scorers in advance.

Several manufacturers intend to run three cars as the norm in 2002 and are likely to use the third car to give 'young guns' WRC experience, as well as a means to field asphalt or snow and ice experts. Permanent numbers will be allocated for the third entry.

The maximum number of entries will be capped at 90 for every event, with this number further broken down into 30 World Rally Cars and 60 other entries for non-Super 1600 Championship rounds, and into 30 WRC cars, 30 Super 1600 machines and 30 other entries for the remaining rounds.

Capping entries will streamline the running of events, but the move is unlikely to be popular on well-supported rounds such as the Network Q Rally of Great Britain. The UK's WRC round regularly attracts a 160-car field and relies to some extent on the entry fees received.

The WMSC also confirmed that new manufacturers which enter the championship after it has begun will be obliged to enter every subsequent round with at least two cars. The move prevents new manufacturers from 'cherry-picking' the events they would be strongest on.

Additionally, new manufacturers will be ineligible for either drivers' or makes' points.

The changes will come into force for the start of the 2002 season.

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