WRC promoter remains positive for the future of the discipline

While the rumor of an imminent departure of Hyundai from the WRC spreads and continues to grow, the promoter prefers to remain confident. Showing his optimism, he affirms his desire to see the world championship quickly set for 2027.

Published on 09/07/2024 à 12:50

Loïc ROCCI

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WRC promoter remains positive for the future of the discipline

Will the three brands present in the WRC this year still be there in 2026? (Photo: Nikos Katikis/DPPI)

En WRC, one worry follows another. This denotes the complicated period that the discipline is going through as it seeks the best path for its future. During the last World Council, the WRC had hoped to get back on track with the rejection of the proposals made by a working group created to save the WRC at the end of 2023. By deciding to continue for two years with the same hybrid regulations, the FIA and the promoter thought they would give themselves two years of respite. It looks like this one is going to be cut short.

On the circuit of 24 Hours of Le Mans and in the service park of the rally from Poland, the rumor of a departure of Hyundai came back in force. On the promoter's side, to the question of whether there is certainty regarding the presence of the three teams until the end of the 2026 season, the answer is direct. “ I am very optimistic, announces Peter Thul. I am convinced that it was the right decision (to freeze the regulations, Editor’s note). It was positive to discuss all these things. This resulted in stability. For us, what is essential now is that the 2027 regulations are quickly established. This means we need it this year, because we need to think about the future. I think everyone knows what needs to be put in place and there is already a lot of work underway to achieve this. I am very confident. This is going in the right direction. »

When it is reported to the WRC sporting director for the promoter the fact that Cyril Abiteboul has not confirmed (nor denied!) the presence of Hyundai in 2026, the former co-pilot (of Dieter Depping among others) remains in the same state of mind of appeasement. “ It is normal for teams to discuss their budget at the end of the year, he says. I can't speak for Cyril, but I think that with this stability of the regulations for 2025 and 2026, there is no reason not to continue until 2026. The decisions are however made by the manufacturers, not by us. Our task is to make sure that everyone loves the championship and wants to stay there. We are on the right path. We presented the promotional plan in Portugal which includes many activities. We are going to the United States in 2026 and we are even thinking about other markets. A few weeks ago I was in China and you will see that our 2025 calendar will be interesting. We need to make the WRC so attractive that they (the manufacturers, Editor’s note) have no choice but to stay there. »

The WRC confident of itself for 2026

Relaunched on the doubts that exist for 2026, Peter Thul persists. “ I can't say I don't have any, because it's not our decision, but I am convinced that we will create a championship so excellent that it will be worth being there, and in addition, I also hope that if we have a good regulation by the end of the year, we will have at least one manufacturer more for 2027. This is our goal. I don't think about the fact that there might only be two brands in 2026. It's important to us who participates and who doesn't, but the first time we had a three-year commitment was when the hybrid was introduced. It was unheard of in the WRC. What's so difficult for us in the auto industry is all this back and forth. Everything was electric, then there was a bit of hybrid. Today, some even think about combustion and it is very complicated to make predictions. So we have to live with that. We will do everything to keep these three on board. We are open to any suggestions and I consider that we have never had so many good discussions. »

Whatever the head of WRC Promoter says, the championship is preparing to enter a new period of turbulence. We must hope for the appearance of very attractive regulations for 2027 so that the future does not appear too gloomy.

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Loïc ROCCI

Journalist specializing in rallying past, present and future... and with a southern accent

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