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  • Writer's pictureDrew Bentham

Rovanperä and Lappi send the future of the WRC into dire straits.


Rovanperä to only compete a part time season in 2024

You will, by now no doubt, have heard the news that Kalle Rovenperä will step down to a part time season for 2024. Tweeting earlier today on his account @KalleRovanpera he said,

News about my WRC future! I have signed a multi-year contract with
@TGR_WRC
In 2024, we will drive half of the #WRC calendar. Felt that this is a good time to have a year like this, and I explain more of the reasons behind this on the video.

This in itself is no great surprise as we've been hearing about this for a while, the Finn instead wanting to explore other motorsport options not least his drifting which he loves so much. But Rovenperä's decision, when taken as part of a bigger picture, makes for a dire situation for the FIA and the future of WRC as a whole. Although of course he'll be back.




Only 4 days ago I reported on the news that Lia Block is to compete in the F1 Academy season, supported by Williams F1. When the rallying world expected her to rise the ranks towards the WRC, the news she is to cross over to F1 was a big blow to rallying. Click below to read the full article.


Lappi too has taken on a part program for 2024, citing that it will improve his home life. Now I can't argue with that, but that's now 5 out of the 8 or so paid drivers on a part time program including Seb Ogier, Danny Sordo and Teemu Sunnien. With Ott moving to Hyundai for 2024 and MSport to field a 'young driver' program, we're left with 3 drivers across 2 teams fighting for a world title realistically, that is far less appealing than ever before. Nevermind needing more manufacturers in the championship, it seems we can't even keep the crews on board.



A lot of time and money has been sunk into centralising TV coverage under Rally TV but it seems that unless action is taken soon, it will have been a waste. Before even the new regulations are released in 2025, changes need to be made BEFORE the start of next season to keep the sport alive. Perhaps allowing private teams to compete for championship points or an Independant trophy, ditching the R1 class altogether and opening up the championship may be the way forwards. It wouldn't be the end of the world for a greener sport either as all the crews run synthetic/bio fuels. The addition of hybrid power seems to have come at too high a cost. Maybe its something for the future, but I don't think that future is now.


 

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Whatever the answer is, a team/crew consultation is needed asap to find out the reasons behind these decisions in order to stem the flow before its too late. An offensive needs waging on all the worlds manufacturers with suitable cars to draw them into joining the WRC, discovering what might be required to make this a reality. The highlight shows produced by Rally TV should be delivered to the public free on all domestic terrestrial channels accross the world. A real and dedicated effort needs to be made to attract a new audience.


The powers that be appear to be floundering on the shore, unable to see the dangers lapping at their heels. I genuinely wish the crews all the best and I have no animosity towards them. I too understand the position of the manufacturers and the decisions they have made. I would like to say I'm looking forward to Monte 2024, but instead I'm left with a bitter taste and a knott in my stomach.

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