Millener: stop looking backwards

M-Sport’s team principal Richard Millener is keen to look to the future rather than staring at the past


M-Sport Ford Team principal Richard Millener is looking slightly exasperated. He’s heard it all before. He’s not really interested anymore.

History, heritage, the good old days. They’re nice. But they don’t necessarily pay the bills.

You might be thinking this is a story about Saudi Arabia’s inclusion in the World Rally Championship and, of course, the news that Jeddah has finally been installed on the calendar did get people thinking old versus new.

But this one’s actually more focused on Rome. For a number of years, there’s been discussions about Rome’s European Rally Championship round stepping up to the world series in place of Sardinia.

You have to feel some degree of sympathy for the Italian islanders; no sooner has the whole Sanremo debate been put to bed than the ‘return to the mainland’ question rears its head and this time it’s the asphalt roads around the country’s capital that apparently have designs on the WRC.

Distilled, this one cuts to the heart of the argument: history and yesterday (admittedly recent history in the shape of two WRC decades – not really old in Italian terms, but you see where we’re going…) versus population and tomorrow.

Millener said: “You know, I don’t really buy into the comments about historical events. For me, that is nice, but it’s the future [that matters].

“We’re talking about now. And every event we go to, we have a close rally.


A return to the mainland could bring a greater number of spectators to the Italian round

“That’s what I care about. I don’t care if we’re going somewhere because we used to go there. We’re going there because we’re going for a proper sporting event. And the more locations we take it to, the more people we reach.

“So we go to Rome, if that’s the case, great. Rome’s incredibly busy. We’ll see a lot of people, and we’ll see a lot of new people. I’ve been there with the European Rally Championship event. It’s a really nice place to go to. So fine for me.”

If only there was one of Millener’s fellow team principals who could make the opposing case. You know the sort, a real student of the sport.

Step forward Jari-Matti Latvala. Same question: should the Automobile Club d’Italia stay on the island or head for Rome?


Jari-Matti Latvala believes that the WRC calendar should be balanced more towards gravel rallies

Latvala told DirtFish: “We have already quite many Tarmac events in this championship. So, for me, the championship should be a bit more on the gravel side.

“And this event in Sardinia has a good history. I understand the point that you want to be on the mainland to have more people, but this rally has been here now for 20 years. It also has a good fan base and also a nice heritage. So, I wouldn’t want to really so much see this rally moving.”

Your thoughts? Dive into the debate and post in the comments below.