Last November something great was supposed to happen. It came close. But, ultimately, it didn’t quite make it. That thing was the combination of the World Rally Championship and the World Rallycross Championship in Belgium.
The WRC’s Ypres Rally Belgum finale was scheduled to spend its final day at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit, coinciding nicely with finals day at World RX of Benelux.
The prospect of being able to watch local hero Thierry Neuville on the stages, then turning around and watching Johan Kristoffersson go wheel-to-wheel with Mattias Ekström and the Hansen brothers would have been an undoubted season highlight.
But then the pandemic spiked, the second wave hit, and all bets were off.
It looks like they might be back on again. And back on with support from FIA rally director Yves Matton.
As his job title suggests, Matton’s a rally man, but he totally gets the appeal of rallycross – especially when it’s combined with the WRC.
Matton told DirtFish the brilliant Belgian plan was his idea.
“It’s an idea I introduced last year, to have World Rallycross – to have this big final in Spa-Francorchamps in the same weekend, to have two disciplines at one level joining for one event,” he said.
The futures of both the WRC and World RX could be tied even closer from next year if speculation that WRC Promoter is about to take over the rights to World RX is to be believed.
World RX lost its promoter when IMG walked out at the end of last season, just seven years into a 20-year term. The FIA launched a tender process to replace IMG and sources say WRC Promoter is closing on that deal.
Having come within weeks of landing off-road motorsport’s biggest weekend, and with the two series potentially run by the same promoter, Matton’s keen to see the shared venue plan come to fruition.
“I believe that this kind of major event bringing in fans from different disciplines to the same place, it’s something that we must consider for the future,” he added.
“It’s not only for the fans. It’s also for the organizers. We know that the crisis will have a big economic impact. To reduce the cost of the promoters or the organizers will also be a challenge for the future.
“And I believe we can mix doing the same events, for example, World RX and WRC on the same venue, it’s something that would make sense in the future and I would be really in favor of this.”
As mentioned earlier, Matton’s a rally man through and through, so was keen to stress bringing the two together wouldn’t compromise rallying’s DNA.
“But this doesn’t mean, don’t take [it] that the future of WRC is rallycross!”