The flaw in WRC’s testing regulations

Heavily restricted testing makes the transition to Rally1 cars even tougher for young drivers


The FIA has faced renewed calls for changes to World Rally Championship testing regulations in an effort to help young drivers make the step to the sport’s highest level.

Hyundai driver Teemu Suninen moved from an i20 N Rally2 to the Korean firm’s Rally1-specification car in the middle of last season and admitted it took him until his third outing in the top class car to be able to drive naturally.

“The test limitations are difficult,” the Finn told DirtFish. “Still, I think most people don’t realize it’s not easy to jump to the car for half-day or one day and then go to the rally. There’s not enough testing.

“These current cars are very different to what we had for the previous 10 years. In Chile, in my third rally in Rally1 car, I felt I started to understand the hybrid and then I could focus to just my driving and then that changed the whole thing.


Once up to speed with the car, Suninen was on course for Chile podium

“But for the next event in Central European Rally it was different again – the car works different on Tarmac. I think we could find an extra day of testing to help the new drivers coming.

“It’s good to have the new drivers coming as well – these are where some of the interesting stories are.”

Toyota team principal Jari-Matti Latvala agreed. Pointing out the economies of scale argument, he said: “At the moment it’s one day of testing for each driver for each rally, which is very little. It’s very difficult to come testing with that amount [of time].

“The biggest cost is the logistics of getting the team to the location. Let’s say you are testing in Portugal; once you are on site, if you do one day then a second day doesn’t actually make that much difference to the costs involved.

“And it’s not so great for the younger drivers. If they come to one test then they can learn the car a little bit, but they learn it for the same stretch of road – it’s on the different roads when they are going to understand more the car, how to set it up and bring it closer to the limits.”