A race against the clock has begun to ensure a WRC3 champion can be declared at the World Rally Championship season finale, the Monza Rally.
Yohan Rossel’s Saintéloc Racing-run Citroën C3 Rally2 was excluded from victory at his sixth rally of the season in Greece, as his car’s front subframe was judged to have exceeded its maximum permitted weight from its homologated specification, a decision he has appealed.
The FIA International Court of Appeal heard the case on Tuesday but the outcome could end up being delivered after the Monza season finale has concluded.
“It’s a big problem. Maybe after Monza we won’t know who is the world champion,” Saintéloc boss Vincent Ducher told DirtFish.
“With the [WRC] Promoter and FIA we push the court to make the decision before Monza starts.”
An international rallying dispute was last heard by the ICA in 2020. Emil Lindholm’s disqualification from last year’s Rally Fafe Montelongo – then a round of the European Rally Championship – due to fuel irregularities was overturned on appeal, though it took three weeks for a verdict to be delivered.
There are only 10 calendar days between the hearing taking place and the WRC season finale kicking off at Monza next Friday.
Rossel and title rival Kajetan Kajetanowicz head to Monza tied on points and a class victory for Kajetanowicz would seal the title should Rossel’s exclusion remain in place.
However, should the appeal be accepted and Rossel’s Acropolis result reinstated, it would guarantee the title for Rossel regardless of what happens in Monza with competitors only permitted to carry their best five scores from seven rounds.
That particular outcome is a realistic one according to Ducher, who was present for the hearing on Tuesday.
“I think they will delete the disqualification and put a fine or time penalty. But it’s impossible to guess, impossible to be sure. They will decide in 10-15 days.”
A time penalty of some description would still put a big dent in Rossel’s title hopes, as his margin of victory over Kajetanowicz had been 32.8 seconds and Chris Ingram was also less than a minute behind in third. His final points tally for the 2021 season would not improve if he eventually is classified third or lower on the Acropolis.
You cannot disqualify a private driver for 90 grams. It's absolutely nothing, it's just a sheet of paper!Vincent Ducher on the weight of the overweight subframe
Grounds for Saintéloc’s appeal against disqualification were based primarily on the overweight subframe being declared legal by stewards in the past, where the component in question had been weighed in Italy.
“The subframe from Greece has been checked in Sardinia and in Sardinia, it was confirmed legal. OK, between the end of Sardinia and Greece everything can happen but we have not modified the subframe,” Ducher explained.
“So it’s a big discussion with the lawyer about how to weigh the part, which law applies – is it French law? Swiss law? Greek law? There is a lot of discussion for that.”
Ducher also questioned the severity of the original penalty, suggesting the punishment did not fit the crime given Rossel’s status as a privateer.
The overweight subframe is not a breach of the WRC’s technical regulations but rather a failure to comply with Article 10.3.3 of the International Sporting Code, which requires cars to match their homologation documents.
“You cannot disqualify a private driver for 90 grams,” said Ducher, referencing how far past the maximum tolerance of 5% overweight the subframe had been measured to be in Greece.
“It’s absolutely nothing, it’s just a sheet of paper!”