World Rally Championship officials will meet later this month to discuss plans to change the way events at the highest level are won, including a proposal that the power stage should decide the outright results.
WRC manager Michele Mouton stressed that no decisions had been taken and that there were numerous options on the table. The most eye-catching is the possibility of the power stage becoming a position-deciding shootout.
There are concerns that the power stage in its current guise, where bonus points are offered for the fastest three drivers, has little appeal to broadcasters.
In an effort to bring added meaning to the final stage of a WRC round, the promoters are floating the idea of it deciding the top 10 finishing order. The drivers in ninth and 10th positions would run first, with the faster of the two cars taking ninth. Then seventh and eighth places run the stage to decide seventh position, repeating all the way up to the driver in second place versus the driver in the lead of the rally to decide the actual winner.
PROMOTER SAYS CHANGE ESSENTIAL
WRC promoter Oliver Ciesla admitted change is needed to the power stage, especially if it is going to be shown live on television.
"If we take the decision live [coverage] makes sense, then the next question is under which conditions does live make sense?" he said. "Producing live TV for rallies costs more than, for example, a table tennis match, so it's in all of our interests to make sure the return on this investment comes. We have to reach the people and find broadcasters willing to take this offer from us.
"It has to have meaning. We must give this live element relevance for the fans and the drivers and the broadcaster.
The next point is: what gives this relevance? Championship points could, or it could be this different format. Quite how this format works is the homework we are doing right now.
"We are thinking out of the box here and we have to, otherwise it will be difficult to create that relevance. But, we think that if we don't do anything then that would be the worst thing."
The plan will be discussed by the WRC Commission in Geneva on May 24.