Support category revamp: key insight

The pyramid is not a complicated shape - wide at its base and rising to a pinnacle at the top.

Rally Pyramid - the tiers

Rally 1: The very top of the pyramid. It’s where we’ll find the current generation World Rally Cars which headline the World Rally Championship.

Rally 2: The sport's second tier, catering for R5 machinery past, present and future like the Skoda Fabia, Ford Fiesta and Hyundai i20.

Rally 3: A new low-cost four-wheel drive solution costing less than €100,000. Basically, this will be a 200bhp R2 car with a rear differential.

Rally 4: Current R2 cars, such as those driven by Junior WRC contenders.

Rally 5: The wide base is designed for entry-level R1 cars, like M-Sport’s turbocharged one-litre Ford Fiesta R1 delivering around 150bhp. Non-turbo cars can run up to 1400cc. A sequential gearbox and improved suspension are the other highlights.

That’s the simplicity the FIA is chasing for the WRC’s support series in the coming seasons and refinements to the WRC 2 category for 2020 have made a significant step in that direction.

Gone is the current WRC 2 Pro, the title for which was clinched by Kalle Rovanperä at Wales Rally GB earlier this month, and WRC 2. In their place we have WRC 2 and WRC 3.

In a nutshell, WRC 2 is for manufacturer-backed teams and FIA-sanctioned independent teams.

To qualify, you need a manufacturer name in the title of the team (Škoda Motorsport, for example) or you must have significant experience and ability as well as the necessary finances to tackle a full season for the governing body to sign you off for WRC 2.

For WRC 2 crews, a full season means seven of the eight European rounds and one of two designated rallies outside Europe. Titles will be awarded for drivers, co-drivers and teams.

The aim of the WRC 2 changes is to ensure the leading crews meet regularly through the season. Too often in the past, by accident or design, the second tier’s finest talents have avoided each other and scooped big points, even when restarting after a retirement.

WRC 3 is designed for privateers, with only a drivers’ title on offer and far less stringent regulations about where and when you have to compete.

The FIA, which agreed the new look earlier this month, said: “These developments are designed to simplify the structure in accordance with the FIA Rally Pyramid, to encourage professional teams to enter and to provide a clear path for semi-professional and amateur competitors.”

Below WRC 2 and WRC 3, the FIA Junior WRC Championship will remain in place and the 2020 calendar will be confirmed shortly.

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