by clicking the arrows at the side of the page, or by using the toolbar.
by clicking anywhere on the page.
by dragging the page around when zoomed in.
by clicking anywhere on the page when zoomed in.
web sites or send emails by clicking on hyperlinks.
Email this page to a friend
Search this issue
Index - jump to page or section
Archive - view past issues
GP Week : Issue 161
RALLY >>> INTERVIEW Pity the poor organisers! The Calendar and Promoter problems of the World Rally Championship not only affect teams and the FIA themselves, they also impact directly on the organisers of the events. Indeed, the organisers have probably suffered more than any other affected group in rally sport from the recent uncertainties of the WRC. In addition to all the other issues, the organisers of Wales Rally GB were then stunned by negative comments about their event made by the President of the World Rally Championship Commission, Jarmo Mahonen, in the presence of the WRC Manager, Michele Mouton. The warning had been blunt. Unless the location of the event was moved, they could not count on a continued place in the WRC. Andrew Coe is the Chief Executive of International Motor Sports Ltd (IMS), the body charged by the Motor Sport Association (the British federation) to run the event, and has taken this opportunity to explain the difficulties facing event organisers in the sport, and the British championship round in particular. GPWEEK: It must have been a big shock when you heard what Jarmo Mahonen and Michele Mouton had been saying. What complaints had the FIA made to the MSA? ANDREW COE: We were aware of issues in 2011 around the choice of Builth Wells as our service park, which we still believe was the right thing for our event. We were also aware of issues from the teams about accommodation in mid Wales, but I don't think we had any direct criticism of Wales as a host nation for Rally GB. I was surprised at the comments and disappointed at what was said. Were the comments from Mahonen the personal opinion of the WRCC or did they represent central FIA policy? I don't think they were the policy of the FIA. The choice of venue for any event, whether it is WRC or any world championship level event part of an FIA series, is ultimately the choice of an ASN (the national motor sport federation). Wales is our current location for the WRC event though whether it remains in Wales after 2012 has yet to be determined. We have however now had discussions with the FIA and I think we have resolved these issues. The FIA will support us in running the Rally GB within the world championship whether it is in Wales or another part of the UK. Going up all the way from Cardiff to North Wales and back is obviously a sore point with the teams, but to what extent is this an essential requirement from the Wales authorities? It is very essential. The authorities in Wales have been asking us over a number of years to extend the reach of the WRC event. As with many of the other events that the Welsh government puts their money into, the rally has been South Wales-centric. The beauty of the WRC is that we can move the event around and thereby stretch the economic benefits around the country. That is what we did last year and will continue to do again this year. Why do the Welsh government authorities want the event to move around? It is a package of things. There is economic benefit for any region which hosts a WRC event because people will stay in the region overnight. This gives a knock-on benefit for hotel nights, for restaurants, of people buying their fuel and food. For a football or a rugby match people come to the region and then just disappear after the match. In our case people tend to stay for 2, 3 and in some cases up to 7 days. Last year North Wales additionally benefitted from the pictures of the rally at Great Orme, a fantastic platform to show the natural assets of Wales. What a motorsport event of WRC status can also offer is credibility to a very important economic sector, the automotive sector. There are a lot of jobs in Wales based on the automotive sector and the WRC provides more networking opportunities off the back of the event. But the primary and most obvious benefit are the hotel nights and the economic benefit which comes from the thousands of people who come to Wales. Does the MSA have a clear idea exactly what the FIA wants out of individual events in the world championship? It’s a little cloudy. Things need to be clarified. We have been waiting to receive a sustainable vision of the future for the last five years or so. Event organisers at WRC level have been looking for something which we can really build upon, a formula that means we can develop an event. Having the assurance of championship status for the next three to five years would then enable us to build a proper business plan. This year (2012) you will run in September. Isn't that getting pretty close to holiday time in Wales? It is, but it is probably the earliest date that Rally GB could feasibly be run because of the limited availability of the Forestry Commission land. This earlier date however provides its own opportunities. Much longer daylight hours gives us more flexibility with the route. Hopefully the weather for the event two months earlier than usual will be a bit kinder to us but perhaps that's a little bit ambitious in Wales! We ran the rally in September in 2004/2005. This year the earlier date also allows us to have a stage at Celtic Manor Resort, the Ryder Cup base in 2010, which if the weather is good will provide a fantastic spectacle, very easy to get in and out of in terms of access. Hopefully we can do there what we used to do with the Stadium [in Cardiff] and attract families 45 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: