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FIA has already confirmed that only works team drivers will be allowed to drive the 2017 world rally cars, that too after the approval by the FIA itself. Also FIA has mentioned that there will be no separate championship for private drivers who are driving current generation cars. As it will effect the WRC 2 category. Putting some light into this matter, FIA rally director Jarmo Mahonen said, “We want to encourage the private drivers to come in the current cars. But at the same time we have to be careful not to screw the R5 competition, which has been really good. We are still talking about this one and we’re going to find a solution, but it’s out of the question to make another FIA title for another championship.”
Mahonen also said that currently FIA cant stop drivers from entering in 2016 world rally cars. He added, “It’s good to have them with us. What we won’t do is we won’t give them a passport to continue the homologation beyond the next two years – that’s when the current cars will reach the end of their life cycle. Driving the current cars does make sense for those drivers looking to make the step to a 2017 car.”
This decision of FIA has left some private teams unhappy. Quirin Muller, team manager of Jipocar Czech National which runs Martin Prokop’s WRC campaign said, “We have been waiting for four seasons for the privateers’ championship which is promised every year to come for the next season.” Rich Millener, chief of M-Sport customer programme also stressed that there is a need of series as WRC 2 for drivers making it to modern WRC. He said, “There are guys out there who don’t want to drive R5 cars and we have to consider these true privateers who want to stay in a 2016 World Rally Car, At the same time, it’s important that we keep the current cars there to bridge the gap between R5 and the 2017 cars. The [performance] gap between R5 and a current World Rally Car is big, but the gap to next year’s cars will be even bigger.”
Coming to the junior series, that is beneath WRC 2 class. There are speculations about ERC to take charge of junior series from next season. As the current JWRC deal with Citroen will come to an end this year. There is also a possibility of re branding the current Drive DMACK Fiesta Trophy as JWRC. Mahonen said, “It’s no secret that we have had meetings with Eurosport and running a [single] junior series with ERC is possible. Right now the Junior WRC is too expensive and the R2 cars are perfect.”
ERC co-ordinator Jean-Baptiste Ley is certain that his junior class series will be perfect for next season. He said, “We have a constant and ongoing dialogue with the FIA about the overall training of young drivers from regional to WRC level, seeing as everyone seems to reckon that the current system of career progression could be improved. In the last two years, 81 drivers have appeared in the three international junior series but only two drivers have made it all the way to factory [WRC] cars: Stephane Lefebvre and Eric Camilli. Of the three, ERC Junior series is the strongest and has the highest profile.”
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