The format of the WRC’s principal WRC 2 support category will be significantly restructured next season.
It will continue to host four-wheel drive R5 cars like the Skoda Fabia, Ford Fiesta and Citroën C3, but will be split into two separate series. One will cater for registered manufacturer teams and drivers and the other will be open to private entrants.
The new WRC 2 Pro Championship will award titles to drivers, co-drivers and registered R5 manufacturers.
The same specification car will be used in the FIA WRC 2 Championship, which will be solely for privateer entrants with the intention to attract more drivers from national and regional championships.
Had the format been in operation in 2018, drivers such as Skoda Motorsport’s Pontus Tidemand and Jan Kopecký and Citroën’s Stéphane Lefebvre would be eligible for WRC 2 Pro. Competitors such as Lukasz Pieniazek and Pierre Louis Loubet would be in WRC 2.
The WRC 3 category for two-wheel drive cars has been dropped although the Junior WRC, which caters for young drivers in similar machinery, will remain. Non-Junior WRC competitors in two-wheel drive cars will still be eligible to enter events.
The dates for the Junior series, which will again be managed by M-Sport, will be announced shortly.
The changes, approved by Friday’s FIA World Motor Sport Council in Paris, are aimed at increasing the number of entrants in manufacturer championships, boosting the number of factory-supported drivers and cars and encouraging private competitors into WRC 2 and the Junior WRC.
Other decisions passed at the meeting for 2019 included:
• Factory-entered drivers can choose their own permanent car number, except for the reigning world champion who will always carry No 1.
• In a bid to cut costs, the number of tests days will be reduced from 55 to 42 for manufacturer teams
• The maximum competitive distance of WRC events has been reduced from 500km to 350km.