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GP Week : 29-Apr-2008
5 Minutes with ... MORRIE CHANDLER GPWEEK: What excites you about rallying right now? MORRIE CHANDLER: We have made a lot of long-term decisions. People understand where we at the FIA are going, and some fine tuning of the plans is on the way. It means that sponsors and factories can look in to the sport again and know with confidence what is going to happen in the future. In relation to rule stability, are there any outstanding matters still waiting to be decided about the next generation World Rally Cars? Just the details of the kit which can be added. The intention is that the performance of the next generation cars will be reduced, notwithstanding adding a turbocharger to the Super 2000 cars. This is because the basis of the design comes from a mass production car, the type of car a manufacturer sells, not a specially-designed car. We have allowed S2000s to add a turbo because everyone tells us that a turbocharged car is going to be the production car of the future. We are going ahead with the 2-litre basic car at this time because the new anticipated generation of smaller-engined turbo cars have not yet been made. I guess that when the size of turbocharged production engines comes down, then the rules will be adjusted accordingly. The intention is that the intended stability is long term. I expect the rule stability period will be 10 years, subject to modifying this to fit into mass-production trends. I expect that will happen in about five years time. Is there a risk of a ‘devil in the detail’ as happened when the old Group B rules were discussed? Obviously everyone involved is trying to gain an advantage for themselves and the FIA have got to be strong enough to manage that. The next major decision concerns rotation of events. Is that working out? It is an exciting concept, as we have a number of new events, like Jordan, where we are now, which is one of them. Rotation widens up the opportunities for the championship to be on a world stage. The previous idea was to pair consecutive events, but I understand that pairing consecutive events does not save much money. The type of pairing that is happening now is at a technical level, pairing the components used on successive events. Some events, notably Finland, feel disappointed that holding world events every two years stops them investing in their events in the way they would like. A lot of events feel the same way. One solution is to encourage them to build up a strong second-level event to be held in the alternate years. This depends on circumstance. The IRC [Intercontinental Rally Challenge] is one idea but that series is very European- focussed, despite its name. Some people, like Norway, will not be holding an event in their gap-year. We are now looking at pairing events so they run on alternate years, like Australia and New Zealand. Are more manufacturers coming along because of the new technical rules? From what we hear, manufacturers absent from the sport are watching to see what happens. I think we will see manufacturers gaining confidence that the sport will be affordable and will then rejoin the series. We are looking to widen the promotion of rallying, so that rally events can be linked with other events, especially at the calendar planning stage. This will make the dates proposed for events better for them as a spectacle and so be better for the championship. Currently, the final round of the 2008 season, Wales Rally GB is being held far too late. The whole championship season is finishing far too late. I think their promoters now realise that the FIA needs to shorten the competition year. In 2009 and 2010 we will have 12 events in the championship, and if we spread this over 11 months, people will lose their focus. We are shortening the length of the season so that there is continuity in the media coverage. People will not forget what happened on the previous event. Is the annual calendar heading towards a February-to-October season then? Yes, and with a little bit of luck this can be tightened up even more. Obviously there are limits. There is only a short stretch of time when we can run snow rallies – other people have their own restrictions. Back home in my country (New Zealand) we cannot go rallying in the lambing season... We all have our special situations! The President of the FIA’s World Rally Championship Commission (WRCC) talks about an important turning point in the sport – right now ... He spoke to MARTIN HOLMES 16