WRC Promoters to Create Feeder Series for Talented Drivers

Just like in Formula One, the World Rally Championship needs feeder series to prepare their potential talents before stepping into the series. This is the conclusion reached by Neil Duncanson, the CEO of the WRC promoter's parent company North One, following the Motor Sport Business Forum in Monaco this week.

Duncanson reckoned that Kimi Raikkonen's signing for a full-season inside the WRC may indeed boost the image of the sport worldwide – such is the case of American rallying and X Games star Ken Block or 9-time motorcycling champion Valentino Rossi – but the rallying world needs a better structure when it comes to promoting young rising stars into the WRC.

Sebastien Loeb may well be the greatest driver ever, Kimi Raikkonen, Ken Block and Valentino Rossi may all be coming, but we need a sharper structure. We also need to drill down further to find the new generation,” said the WRC promoter, according to Autosport.

To be more specific, he argued that young rally drivers don't have international competitions in which they can grow to a WRC level, except for their home-grown championships. Apart from the J-WRC series, the junior drivers are often unable to secure a path towards the WRC via other programmes.

Formula 1 has its genesis in karting and we need our own. Rally drivers can't climb into a car, legally at least, until they're 17 or 18. We want to create a completely new sport and a new vehicle for kids as young as seven. They won't all go on to become WRC drivers and champions, but they may well all go on to become better drivers. Then we need a more effective pyramid - a clear path for drivers to climb up to the WRC peak,” argued Duncanson.

To meet that requirements this week was Simon Long, CEO of WRC promoter ISC, who confirmed plans to set up a brand new series in 2011, aimed at fielding “iconic cars of yesterday.”

We want to have a minimum of 100 competitors at every rally. That can include 30 WRC cars at the front of the field, then a number of juniors, a number of celebrity one-off drivers, right the way down to the amateurs,” said Long, regarding the WRC classics series.

In addition, Pirelli's motorsport boss Paul Hembery revealed that the company's Star Driver programme will progress into a real academy for young talented rally drivers, “which will be a one-make series on the World Rally Championship stage, creating a platform for success for the best young drivers.
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