WRC promoter Oliver Ciesla
By Sharifah Namagoba
With just a day to the 2020 FIA world rally championship season opener, WRC promoter managing director Oliver Ciesla says the new season will be more than competitive but also filled with exciting innovations.
The season officially opens with the traditional Monte Carlo starting on 23-26th January in Monte-Carlo, Monaco with a service park in Gap France.
Following major transfers between the teams, the season is headed for an erratic competition according to Ciesla in interview with WRC
“It has been one of the busiest transfer times in recent years. The big surprises, of course, were Ott Tänak moving to Hyundai and Sébastien Ogier replacing him at Toyota. Along with other moves, these transfers bring unpredictability and excitement for the new season as drivers settle into their new teams and cars,” he said.
While the 2020 season is anticipated to deliver exciting thrills, the return of Safari rally and New Zealand along with Japan will make the main highlights.
“We wanted to further globalise the WRC by featuring more events outside Europe. It is the first time the WRC has included six continents in it’s 48-years history.”
“Japan’s comeback, mainstream Asia’s first appearance for 10 years, and the return of Kenya’s Safari Rally, one of motorsport’s legendary contests, provide a presence in the world’s largest two continents by size for the first time in more than two decades.”
Europe, North America, South America, Asia, Africa and Australasia continents will make up the 2020 WRC season.
To advance the competition, the manufacturers have a chance to enter a second single-car team that can as well score independent manufacturer’s points.
“A single-car team which carries a separate identity gives an opportunity for the manufacturers to field a fourth car, under a different entrant name, to score points in the manufacturers’ championship.
“Tactically, manufacturers can deploy this extra team to deprive their rivals of vital points. This, of course, also brings the potential for more World Rally Cars on our events,” he explained.
Ciesla further explained the changes made to the support championships.
“WRC 2 is the primary support category and the principal feeder for competitors targeting the final step to a World Rally Car drive. It is for manufacturer-backed teams and teams approved by the FIA and focuses on R5 cars.
“The newly-introduced WRC 3 is identical, with the exception that it is designed for privateer drivers only. And, of course, the Junior WRC, which hosts the stars of the future, stays as the entry-level series. We will provide more media coverage for all the support championships this year to further promote the unique pro-am character of WRC events,” he asserted.
Ciesla also hinted on the future plans in the championship.
“Pirelli will return to the championship as the exclusive tyre supplier for factory teams from 2021 – 2024. Pirelli hasn’t supplied works cars at the top level since 2010 so this is a great motivator for them.
“Work continues with the FIA, manufacturers and ourselves ahead of the introduction of environmentally-friendly hybrid cars in 2022. There will be more to announce as the season progresses.”