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GP Week : Issue 166
22 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: It is no surprise that the private teams have stayed away from Rally GB this year, but what is a big shock is just how suddenly the whole privateer support of the event has collapsed. This year there are only eight ‘privateer ’ drivers, those who are neither registered championship contenders nor official team crews, none of them British, and only one Belgian driver could be said to embrace the spirit of the sport. Last year there were 21 equivalent entries, six British. The organisers of Rally GB themselves have in recent years been subjected to pressures from all directions. From the championship promoters came pressure to concentrate on the registered drivers. They do not want attention diverted from the teams on to privateers. Privateers now even have to pay the Promoters for footage on regional TV. From the accountants came pressure to make profit from the spectators, from the national sponsors of the event has come pressure to run the rally the way their promotional people want. The end result is crisis. The weakest link has snapped The privateers are the least ones to matter. They are the ones who have had to wait considerable periods of time outside the Cardiff Millennium stadium and miss their sleep, so that the championship drivers had more time to complete their course. The privateers were the ones given service locations far away, well beyond comfortable walking distance. They were not the customers of the rally – they were an unavoidable, necessary nuisance. The specific reasons why they are missing this year are (a) The date change. National championships are still continuing – there is no wish to risk their chances on an unnecessary additional mid-season event; (b) Format. Even more unnecessary time and money is being wasted this year by travelling up to Llandudno and back; (c) Perception of a lack of respect by the organizers. As one long time motorsport official said: “IMS (the rally organisers) are very poor in the customer relations side and do little to find out what their customers want. “The formats are wrong, the costs are too high and the way they treat UK competitors is very bad. The event offers a much reduced challenge these days and therefore it is no longer an ambition to compete on the 'RAC Rally' – which for many had been a boyhood dream ...” OPINION MARTIN HOLMES Rally Editor WHY THE PRIVATEERS ARE STAYING AWAY (FROM RALLY GB) OPINION Last of the true 'RAC Rally' privateers? Belgian driver Renaud Bronkart (Yaris) is a rare 'private' 2012 Wales Rally GB entrant