WRC: Rule change will hurt young drivers - Citroen

2016-10-26 17:24:50

The World Rally Championship's 2017 return to three-car teams will just hike salaries rather than helping young drivers, reckons Citroen chief Yves Matton.

Next year factory squads will be able to field three drivers in a single team with their leading two finishers scoring manufacturers' points again. At present teams can only enter two drivers for manufacturers' points, so those running additional cars have to do so under a separate name – hence the existence of Volkswagen Motorsport II and Hyundai Motorsport N.

Matton had opposed the change, which he feels will encourage teams to prioritise experienced drivers as there will be pressure on all three cars to score, whereas the second-string operations could be a proving ground for newcomers.

"I agree that the teams need to run three cars," said Matton, "but the way the regulation is written is not the way to promote new drivers coming to the championship, it is the way to promote the salaries of the [current] drivers."

VW and Hyundai both have three experienced, rally-winning drivers signed up for 2017, while Citroen team leader Kris Meeke is joined by Craig Breen and Stephane Lefebvre – who will both be in their first full season in the top class.

Although VW had originally shared Matton's opinion, its team principal Sven Smeets said the German manufacturer ultimately went with the majority.

"It was put on the agenda and nobody really complained about it," said Smeets. "So we said, 'Well, OK, if nobody else has a problem then we don't.'"

Smeets believes the relative lack of experienced drivers will automatically lead to opportunities for newcomers.

"It's not like the days when we had seven manufacturers and there were maybe 20 drivers with experience," he argued. "If you want three cars, you will have to put a young driver in the car anyway."

Smeets also thinks the change makes the WRC easier to understand.

"We have fans asking what is the difference between Sebastien [Ogier] and Jarri-Matti's [Latvala] cars in Volkswagen Motorsport and Andreas Mikkelsen's Polo, which is run under the Volkswagen Motorsport II team," he said. "There's no difference, none at all. But this brings some confusion. Getting rid of this is a good thing."


Originally on Autosport.com

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