As the WRC continues to pick up steam and take the fight to the highly competitive and entertaining IRC, there are still some gremlins in the WRC closet in regards to the scheduling of events. North Star One is hoping to kill the gremlins with its proposal of the 2011 calendar that could have a surprise in store for rally fans.
The problem with the WRC is the number of events on the calendar as opposed to the number of events that wants to be on the calendar. There are too many events for the championship to include, so we have moved to this rotation of events to make everybody happy. The new proposal for 2011 kills this rotation idea. The sports promoting group will select 14 or 15 rallies from the current 21 that belong to the rotation cycle. Unfortunately that means some of the rallies that are currently visited will be killed. In my opinion this is the tough part. North Star says they will select traditional rallies as well as the events that are best marketed and promoted. Which ones make the cut? Rally Finland is good for another five years as they have recently re-signed their deal with North Star, but what about the likes of Mexico? Events like Japan…where do they fall into place? A lot of questions to be asked about what will go and what will stay. Obviously the WRC needs to secure Monte Carlo and they may stand a good chance of doing so if the rotation gets killed. We have already seen the last two years that the talent is in the WRC. Both Hirvonen and Ogier went to Monte and dominated the IRC’s best. Why not have them back? Oh yeah, because the FiA decided for a rotation and the IRC was the one who profited the most from that awesome decision making. However, the event organizers cannot be blind and must want the top drivers back on their circuit. After all, the Monte should not be an invitational event for WRC drivers who come over and destroy the competition. It should be the other way around. If the IRC is so awesome and good, then they should have to go and prove themselves against the best drivers in the world. Let’s hope the killing of the rotation and the shedding of excess weight will be enough to woo the organizers of the historic rally back to the WRC.
The topic of the calendar with the most amount of buzz is this “surprise” in a new market. What does this mean? We already know there are potential events in Abu Dhabi and Russia. However, Abu Dhabi is not a new market because we already have an event in the Middle East with Rally Jordan on the calendar. Stay with me here, but could this be a North America rally? Why not! North Star One has made no secret of a potential rally here in the US. Could this be the surprise that we are waiting for? The US would be a new market under the current WRC regime and having a star like Ken Block guaranteed for at least two years would lend amazing marketing and promotional abilities for such an event. While North Star is not saying one way or the other, I am confident that this may be the event that could be a shocker. The US is currently on an upswing of rally enthusiasm with the likes of Rally America and the X-Games as well as key drivers like Block and Pastrana doing the racing genre no harm. You could also then bring down some great Canadian talent as well to really spice things up.
The organizers of the African Safari event are also pushing for their candidate event in a couple years. Would we consider this a “new market”? The teams have run there in the last decade so I would think that would be a traditional event like Mote they would want to bring back. Regardless of what is on the schedule or not, the calendar is generating some buzz and that is only good news for the WRC folks. The calendar is set to be proposed in March to the FiA along with the 1.6 litre turbo engine. Let’s keep our fingers crossed!