Francois Ribeiro, Eurosport’s motorsport promoter, has had a few interesting things to say recently when in conversation with Autosport. (For the original article by Jack Cozens, click here)
During the interview, Ribeiro spoke about various changes that could be in the works ahead of the 2019 World Touring Car Cup (WTCR) season. Changes in regard to both the series regulations and competitive entrants are seemingly up for debate amongst the Eurosport hierarchy, following the championship’s inaugural campaign this year.
A key example of this is the debate over the points system. Currently, the top ten finishers in each race will score championship points, however the amount of points on offer varies depending on context. Ribeiro doesn’t see this degree of complexity as one of the areas which needs to change for 2019 though. Instead, the Portuguese argues that the real topic for discussion is whether or not to extend the points-paying positions to the top fifteen.
He went on to explain: “The three races do not have the same value. The reversed-grid has to get less points than the non-reversed grid, and the main [third] race is longer than the first one.”
“If we want to change the points allocation, I think the right thing we should think about is not how complex the points system allocation is, but is it good to allocate points only to the top 10? When you had 16, 17 cars (back in the days of the FIA WTCC) allocating points to the top 10 was normal, fair.”
“If we get 26 or if we go to 30, is it still right to allocate points only to the top 10? That’s the right question for me. That’s what we have to address. This is to me, more the debate than the complexity of the systems. If we want to keep motivation and so on, maybe we have to think to allocate points a bit further.”
As briefly touched upon in the above quote, the number of entries for the 2019 season is also up for debate. Currently, 26 entries are permitted to take part in the full season, with two wildcards per event also allowed. That said, only 25 full-time entries have actually committed to the WTCR this year.
Given the relative success of the WTCR in its inaugural campaign, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to suggest that more teams – or manufacturers – may now be interested in joining the grid. Opel, for example, are a noticeable absence from the 2018 WTCR entry list despite their Astra TCR being a well-received car across Europe. Therefore, it’ll be important for Eurosport to manage the ratio of cars present on the grid, so that fans can be treated to a varied yet competitive entry list.
“The biggest potential change next year will depend [on] how many new manufacturers will come, and how many new teams they will bring. Today we have seven brands, and what do we do if we have two new manufacturers next year?”
“Do we have to change the sporting regulations or not? How do we do with six Audis if we have two new brands? I’m thinking a lot about it, but I don’t have the answer yet because it’s a bit early to take those kind of decisions. I will sit down with the FIA and teams and have a dialogue with them at the sporting working group and touring car commission level to see what is most appropriate next year if we get more brands.”
Clearly, the 2019 season is still many months away. For that reason, fan attention should perhaps remain on the conclusion of the current 2018 campaign for now, which has been highly entertaining so far. While we leave Eurosport to decide the championship’s future, what we can take away from the interview is this:
Less than 12 months ago, Eurosport were debating how to boost a dwindling entry list. Now, under the new WTCR regulations, the discussion is instead about how to accommodate a multitude of interested parties. The future is certainly bright for the World Touring Car Cup.