WRC teams support trip to NZ, but not calendar expansion
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The leading WRC teams are rejecting a growth in the number of events on the calendar and are demanding New Zealand be the only addition to next year's schedule.
The sport's promoters have been considering adding one event to the 2018 calendar with New Zealand battling the likes of Croatia and Turkey, while wanting grow to as many as 16 events over the coming seasons.
But the teams feel that it will cost too much adding additional rounds while they also have concerns about going to places like Croatia and Turkey.
Hyundai team manager Alain Penasse explained the situation to Autosport.
"We tried running 16 rallies before," said Penasse. "It worked, it's possible. But that was 10 years ago, when the teams had a lot more money than we have now.
"I think 14 is probably the right number and for next year, New Zealand is the only option.
"We know New Zealand can run at the WRC level. OK, it's a small market, but this doesn't matter: the drivers love the roads and the scenery will give great pictures for the television.
"I always said that if we get the promotion right then these rallies can be huge on the internet and it doesn't matter about the size of the market.
"There's some talk about Turkey still, but we all know about the political instability, and then there's this idea about Croatia.
"I'm not sure where that dream came from. We were told the promoter wanted to go outside of Europe for the next round and this totally contradicts that.
"I don't know so much about Croatia, but I do remember Juho Hanninen meeting three cars coming in the opposite direction on one stage."
Rally New Zealand is lobbying for government support to help bring the WRC back to New Zealand in 2018. It is understood they will get some assistance but are still searching for sponsors to make the event stack-up financially.
A final decision on the calendar is due by September.
- NZ Herald