WRC event format change to be discussed

After more than 20 years in place, the WRC’s ‘cloverleaf’ format could be ending

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A raft of format changes will be proposed by WRC Promoter to the World Rally Championship Commission meeting on September 22.

The Munich-based promoter has been under fire for much of this season, with drivers, co-drivers and the teams openly criticizing what they’ve seen as a lack of direction and progress.

One of the key points of debate will be the future of central service parks and a return to the concept of remote services by allowing the teams to take a limited number of spare parts to tire fitting zones. The so-called ‘cloverleaf’ format of rallies has been in place since then promoter David Richards introduced it in the early 2000s.

WRC Promoter event director Simon Larkin said: “We absolutely are open to changing the single service-park concept.

“Maybe we need to have a model where a certain number of parts and tools can be carried in a certain way or in the car. If two mechanics are already there for a 15-minute tire fitting zone… how long does it take to fit the tires, four or five minutes? They can do more in that time and this can help keep cars in the event.


“Look at Elfyn [Evans, on Saturday’s Eleftherochori stage]. He ran through the stage on hybrid to get to the end and then busted his balls to keep the car in the event.

“Maybe there’s a chance to keep cars running and add to the story. The other thing about remote service or potential remote service is that we believe the sport is too focused on the team being the driver and the co-driver and there’s not enough focus on the mechanics and the engineers working to keep the cars in the event. They have a lot of pride to keep their cars running and we are making more heroes than just the drivers and co drivers.”

A more wide-ranging change to get rid of long days on some events is also being discussed.

“Should we,” asked Larkin, “be doing a stage at 7.08am in the morning and finishing the day with a stage at 6.08pm in the evening? I think there are a few events in the year we can do that [but] should that be the norm, particularly in Europe? I don’t think that’s a realistic proposition to continue.

“We are a German company, we are bound by German law – so is Hyundai and Finland (Toyota) is the same with quite strict employment law regarding working hours.


“I think Monte Carlo is one of those events that we would always want to push the boundary – it’s a key part of the image of that event [to have long days]. Is Croatia one of those? Maybe not. Is Latvia? Maybe not – it doesn’t have that iconic brand image Monte Carlo or Safari does.

“I think we can create a different flavor of events to suit the market and the type of story we’re trying to tell. If we think of every season being a book, we want those 14 chapters to be exceptionally different – we’re not circuit racing, we’re out in the environment of the countries we’re in and I think we can cut our cloth to suit those individual countries and to create something special.”

The timeline for format change starts with the September 22 meeting. Any potential change would have to be presented to FIA World Motor Sport Council by the end of September for possible ratification by WMSC on October 19.

The plan would be to provide a non-regulatory pathway for teams and events through next season with rule change coming as part of a bigger package of changes for 2025.

Words:David Evans