Opinion: Room for Improving The World Rally Championship

June 8, 2023Joe Moore

The World Rally Championship can be improved as can many things in the world, but there are a few that stand out above the rest.

Lack Of Manufacturers

The World Rally Championship in recent years has had a lack of manufacturers. As the championship only has three different teams to choose from at the top level. Those three being Toyota Gazoo Racing, Hyundai Shell Mobis and M-Sport Ford. It is worth noting early Toyota and Hyundai sit above M-Sport Ford in many ways, including budget. As the M-Sport Ford team spent most of their driver budget this season on bringing back Ott Tänak. The lack of manufacturers had made it harder for drivers to get a seat, with this season having only 10 drivers with a seat in WRC1 this season. Which is 3 less than last season, which saw 13 with a seat. Although the average amount of entrants per event has stayed the same for a while now, with about 10 drivers entering per event. 

Why Is This An Issue?

The main issue with this is it forces drivers who should be in a WRC1 seat into WRC2. Yes, this does make WRC2 more interesting, but it’s also limiting drivers’ potential in the WRC as well. With WRC2 being more competitive, and often having tighter finishes than WRC1 it has taken some people’s focus off the WRC1 class and turned the focus to the WRC2 class. Especially during events that aren’t close after the first day in the WRC1 class. Thankfully Rally Italia Sardegna was a battle right till the end pretty much. This kept things interesting throughout the event. The lack of competition has also made the title fight uninteresting to watch for about two decades now. As every season besides last WRC season, 2019, and 2020 you pretty much expected who would win. It was either Sebastien Loeb or Sebastien Ogier. With WRC2 it’s constantly interesting, you don’t know who’s going to likely win heading into the season. 

The Fix To This Issue

Well, there isn’t a simple fix for this issue. As it relies a lot on not only manufacturers but also drivers. Although adding another manufacturer would allow more drivers the opportunity to compete at the WRC1 level. It wouldn’t solve the competition issue immediately. It would take some time for the competition issue to potentially be solved. As it’ll take some time for a new set of drivers to get used to the Rally1 cars. Even after getting used to the Rally1 cars, there’s no guarantee that the drivers can compete with Rovanperä or whoever is at the top. There’s also no guarantee a new manufacturers’ car will be able to compete with the Toyota’s or Hyundai’s. The only real potential way to fix the manufacturer issue is to make the WRC more appealing to manufacturers. Right now competing in WRC1 or even WRC2 is really expensive for teams. With teams relying heavily on sponsorships.