Thierry Neuville is not a fan of the World Rally Championship’s reduced testing regulations, saying they are having the opposite effect as intended.
For this season, each manufacturer team’s testing allocation has been reduced to just 21 days across the season, with a maximum of seven days per driver for a three-car team.
Before, teams were allowed one day per driver ahead of each European round of the championship.
Now the days aren’t geographically locked so manufacturers can choose where they use their quota of days, but Neuville isn’t sure this tackles the problem of cost.
He told DirtFish: “For me it’s a bad thing.
“I don’t think [it saves money], really the opposite I think because we know that some drivers are already doing some national events before Sweden and national events are much more expensive, much more time consuming and the testing opportunities are much less.”
Hyundai has entered Neuville’s team-mate Esapekka Lappi into the Kuopio Rally in Finland where he’ll also be joined by Toyota’s Takamoto Katsuta.
On the same weekend, Ott Tänak will compete on Estonia’s Otepää Winter Rally for M-Sport.
Asked if he would have the chance to do any national events, Neuville said: “Before Sweden no, but Ott and I think some other drivers are doing Otepää and there’s also a Finnish event which some drivers will do.
“So, for sure this will be more expensive.”
M-Sport will use national events as extended tests for its drivers like Hyundai and Toyota, but with just two full-time drivers it has crafted itself an advantage regarding with the new testing regulations as it can give its lead driver, Tänak, more running.
“We’ve set out our strategy,” Wilson told DirtFish.
“Obviously Ott’s got more days, because we’re only running two cars [full-time]. So that was our [thinking] – OK we’re not running three cars because we feel that we wouldn’t be in a position to challenge for manufacturers [championship].
“So should we say we’ve adapted to suit the new rules in one sense.”
The last time top-line WRC cars and drivers were seen on national events regularly was 2021 when Hyundai entered Neuville and Tänak into several different rallies across Europe, including Otepää, Sanremo and Targa Florio.