Should morning service be reintroduced in the WRC?

On gravel rallies morning service breaks are no longer allowed, but there have been calls for that to change


Should morning service be reintroduced to the World Rally Championship?

The regulation was outlawed for gravel events in a bid to reduce the working hours for engineers and mechanics, but there’s been plenty of calls for it to return.

The lack of service forces drivers to choose their tires for the following day the night before the stages began, and that became a particular problem during the recent Rally Italy Sardinia due to the adverse weather conditions.

Drivers have already suggested the rule should be reverted. Eight-time world champion told DirtFish in Sardinia that this new system ‘makes no sense’ while Dani Sordo questioned the validity of it on safety grounds.

Although the reason for the regulation change was to reduce working hours, Toyota technical director Tom Fowler doesn’t believe it’s made much of a change at all.

“We would like to bring the morning service back,” Fowler told DirtFish.

“We don’t really see much benefit from this.

“I think the intention was to save the working hours of some of the team members, at least for my engineering team we already wake up at 4.30am to find out what the weather is going to be, so it doesn’t really help.

“And in terms of the sport, I think the most important thing is that it’s not really healthy to choose the tires the night before and effectively you could rule out someone’s next day already before they’ve even gone to bed. And the next morning you wake up to an unexpected weather scenario or whatever it might be, and somebody’s rally is over just because of a decision that was made the night before.

“And as a consequence of that, it means we need to put more and more effort into understanding the weather better into understanding what is going to happen during the night and so this is obviously not a cost saving.”

Fowler added that safety plays a part in wanting it back too.


“That is the reason why they are [still there] on Tarmac and I think it’s globally correct that on gravel it’s less of a concern but equally not always the case,” he said.

“We saw that on Saturday afternoon [of Sardinia] when Kalle Rovanperä didn’t have the optimum tire choice for package reasons, he lost minutes, a minute, to the guys that were pushing on new softs.

“And that’s exactly the scenario that you would have if you accidentally selected the hard tires the night before.”

But the service park isn’t in completely unity.

M-Sport team principal Richard Millener doesn’t see any need to change things, and doesn’t believe safety is an issue either.


“I’m more than happy with it,” Millener responsed when asked what he thought about the morning service regulation.

“Tell me anybody that’s had an accident down to a bad tire choice here?

“Tarmac it’s still there on safety grounds. You just mentioned gravel used to have one compound. So if we have one compound, then what?

“Then they’ll moan that they want two compounds and a morning service so they can choose.”

Millener also doesn’t believe team decisions would be any different if drivers could make their tire choice first thing in the morning.

“I don’t see the advantage,” he explained. “Every single one of them went out on mixed tires [in Sardinia].

“And I’m pretty sure if we had them, every single one of them would have gone out on mix tires because the weather conditions were only suitable for mixed tires.

“I don’t see where the advantage is.”

Words:Rob Hansford