Following the largely successful move to a two-wheel-drive only format in 2012, the organisers of MSA British Rally Championship have revealed their latest changes for the series in time for the 2013 season.
The changes focus on reducing costs for competitors and events, increasing opportunities for manufacturer involvement and improving spectator’s experiences:
Reduced costs for competitors and events
Removing the need for international fees and sporting calendar listings, plus running the constituent parts of the events under one National A permit will provide significant savings for each of the rallies. These changes will mean competitors can take part without having to hold an international competition licence and thereby reduce costs and ease criteria for entry. At the same time, the key elements that make the BRC a multi-national, high profile and dynamic championship will be retained.
The reduction in operational costs for events will have a knock-on effect in reducing competitors’ running costs. Teams will benefit from more compact rallies and the consequent reduced entry fees. To encourage participation at entry level, special focus will be put on the R1 class.
On selected events, new weekend formats will see provision for Saturday morning scrutineering, early afternoon starts, Saturday evening stages and Sunday morning/early afternoon finishes. In certain cases, this will eliminate the need for Friday attendance and provide some competitors with the opportunity to enter two rallies in one weekend.
Increased opportunities for manufacturer involvement
Focusing on the UK market, the BRC has embarked on a strategy of encouraging manufacturer dialogue and involvement. Consequently, the Championship is aware that some car manufacturers would like to be involved, but see the investment required to achieve FIA global homologation as a barrier to entry.
It is a BRC’s objective to create a platform to engage manufacturers with the championship, its events and importantly, its competitors. To achieve this, it has secured an agreement with the MSA to implement an alternative to FIA homologation for new cars. Therefore, the 2013 Championship will permit new vehicles to compete alongside current homologated two-wheel-drive cars.
The technical regulations will retain the principals of Appendix J and Article 260 for R1, R2 and R3 cars. All new-system submissions for entry, either by a manufacturer or appointed professional motorsport company, will be put through a stringent BRC inspection and a documentation exercise that will result in the creation of a Championship ‘Passport’.
The Passport will replicate traditional homologation papers and provide a full technical and accredited point of reference. This approach will ensure parity between Passport and FIA homologated cars, with the aim of providing a stepping-stone for new manufacturers to enter 2WD categories prior to considering full FIA certification.
Improvements for spectators
Nowadays events cannot be financially sustained by entry fees alone and, as important stakeholders, rally fans have a vital role to play in helping their sport survive. In return for their contribution, BRC organisers recognise that the spectator experience must be enhanced. The Championship has recently made significant investments with the introduction of smart phone apps and new media – but even more needs to be done.
A new working agreement with event organisers will create changes to event structures and endeavour to improve viewing points in order to provide even better spectator facilities. Alongside this, the Championship is investigating the streaming of live data, results and images, which will be accessible in spectator areas.
MSA British Rally Championship Manager Mark Taylor said: “The ongoing economic climate is still having an impact on motorsport and the championship has recognised it must play a leading role in cost reduction by instigating changes to ensure the top level of the sport in the UK remains viable.
“Following extensive consultation with rally organisers, the MSA and manufacturers, the Championship will introduce a range of initiatives to enable events, competitors and manufacturers to reduce their financial commitment and increase the opportunities to become involved. We also intend to introduce features that will enhance the BRC experience for spectators.”
Colin Hilton, Chief Executive of the Motor Sports Association, added: “The MSA has become particularly aware this year that clubs and events have been facing more financial difficulties than ever before. We must always remember that motor sport events are organised by motor clubs and usually staffed exclusively by volunteers who dedicate much of their year to making the event as enjoyable as possible for competitors and spectators alike.
“It therefore makes sense to reduce the burden where possible and we believe that the move to a National A permit will have a number of benefits for organisers. The MSA will continue to work closely with the BRC to make sure that the pinnacle of British Rallying is as strong as possible for the wider benefit of the sport.”