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from:

http://www.speedtv.com/articles/auto/rally/13153/

FIA Plans Radical Overhaul of WRC Rules
Written by: RACER staff
London, UK ? 9/29/2004

FIA president Max Mosley has sent out his starkest warning yet to manufacturers in the World Rally Championship that the series will not survive unless drastic action is taken to cut costs.

In a move that mirrors his bid to cut spiraling costs in Formula 1, Mosley has contacted all the current and possible future manufacturers in the WRC outlining rule changes he plans to introduce in 2006.

The proposed regulations ? known as Super 2000 ? would be a dramatic move away from the sport?s current rules, but Mosley believes they constitute the only hope of keeping the WRC alive.

He told Autosport magazine, "On the basis of the information available at present, the only sure way of keeping the World Rally Championship alive and prosperous is to make the changes which are currently under discussion."

Under Mosley's proposed new system, two-liter engines would replace the existing turbocharged power plants, while the sophisticated electronic and transmission systems would be canned in favor of a simpler and cheaper alternative that would be made available to all the manufacturers through a single supplier.

The WRC currently has five manufacturers competing in the series. But Mitsubishi suspended its 2004 program following Rally Deutschland after a disastrous time with the Lancer, while Ford has yet to decide whether it will even take part in the championship next year.

"The way things are right now, it's almost certain one manufacturer is going to walk away," admitted a senior source within the FIA. "If that happens then we will lose one of the French teams. If that happens, then it is highly unlikely one French team will stay to fight Subaru, so they will also go ? then the world championship will collapse.

"There is a high level of interest in Super 2000. These cars would cost about a quarter of what current WRC cars cost and, if we are draconian in the way we govern the sport in the coming years, then we can avoid that collapse. The case for Super 2000 is overwhelming. The alternative is nothing. The alternative is no WRC."

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this seems pretty interesting. not sure how i feel about no turbo w/ high altitide events like argentina on the schedule. i think just getting rid of the active diffs and sway bars would be a step in the right direction. if they do away w/turbos they would be able to ditch the sequential boxes and go back to a floor mounted h pattern box/shifter. that would be cool. i would love to see more cars.

maybe spec sube isnt that dumb of an idea after all.

slow em down and get em sideways!
 

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Any idea that Max Mosley is behind is a bad idea.

Not saying that it isn't expensive to run a car under the current rules, but which manufacturer has dropped out solely because of the expense? Ford, Mitsubishi and VW (Skoda) have all having serious money problems company wide. Hyundai left for general money problems as well, right?

Do you think if the costs were reduced that other manufacturers would rush in?

Why not just go back to old Group A and 5000 car homologations, so the manufacturers have a product to establish a direct connection between the sport and their customers. And dump the third driver limitations.

Sure, there are reasons to be concerned. But, these days, Subaru, Citreon, Peugeot and (on a good day) Ford can win a rally. That's better than F1, the "pinnacle" of motor racing.

alan
 

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>Not saying that it isn't expensive to run a car under the
>current rules, but which manufacturer has dropped out solely
>because of the expense? Ford, Mitsubishi and VW (Skoda)
>have all having serious money problems company wide.
>Hyundai left for general money problems as well, right?

Yes.

>Do you think if the costs were reduced that other
>manufacturers would rush in?

They did when the WRCar rules appeared, see below. There were 4 manufacturers left in the GpA WRC after Lancia left (Subaru, Mitsu, Ford, Toyota), but that increased to 7-8 under the WRCar rules.

>Why not just go back to old Group A and 5000 car
>homologations, so the manufacturers have a product to
>establish a direct connection between the sport and their
>customers. And dump the third driver limitations.

Because building 5000 (or 2500 as they changed it to later) AWD turbo street cars was too expensive for most manufacturers. The WRCar rules were brought in to allow more companies to play. It added Skoda, Seat, Peugeot, Citroen, and Hyundai to the mix, while Toyota and Ford stopped building AWD turbo homologation specials. How many of the companies would have built a new GpA homologation car if it had to be an AWD turbo?

BTW, the Super 2000 rules are on the FIA website. Appendix J article 254A. They appear to be a 'kit variant' of a GpN car. (They also appear to be something of a 'work in progress'.) This means that manufacturers would have to homologate a 2L AWD car, which limits it to less manufacturers than the WRCar rules (i.e. those who have, or intend to have, a NA AWD car). Of course, it is possible that a Super 2000 Kit homologation would allow a manufacturer to add AWD the same way the WRCar rules do (which would be a relatively cheap option). I question how interesting 8500 rpm 2000cc AWD cars would be to a) manufacturers, b) drivers, c) spectators, or d) sponsors, though.

Adrian
 

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2.0L NA touring car motors make over 300hp. They are hideously expensive, and don't last very long, but they would get the job done.

Lotsa drivers have advocated dropping the electronics and sequentials to bring the driver more back into play. Cost savings would be enormous considering that a Prodrive 6 speed paddle shift box costs $75k, or double what a WRC motor costs, or triple what a WRC body shell costs.

Colin McRae once advocated going to NA V6 motors. Cheap, lotsa torque and power, and already in most manufacturuer line ups.

Dennis Martin
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920-432-4845
 

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>>Do you think if the costs were reduced that other
>>manufacturers would rush in?
>
>They did when the WRCar rules appeared, see below. There
>were 4 manufacturers left in the GpA WRC after Lancia left
>(Subaru, Mitsu, Ford, Toyota), but that increased to 7-8
>under the WRCar rules.

But did WRCar make things less expensive? Did WRCar cause the increase or did the growth just happen at the same time as the rule change?

>>Why not just go back to old Group A and 5000 car
>>homologations, so the manufacturers have a product to
>>establish a direct connection between the sport and their
>>customers. And dump the third driver limitations.
>
>Because building 5000 (or 2500 as they changed it to later)
>AWD turbo street cars was too expensive for most
>manufacturers. The WRCar rules were brought in to allow more
>companies to play. It added Skoda, Seat, Peugeot, Citroen,
>and Hyundai to the mix,

Yeah, but there has also been a lot of consolidation in the auto industry, so there are less manufacturers to draw from.

>while Toyota and Ford stopped
>building AWD turbo homologation specials. How many of the
>companies would have built a new GpA homologation car if it
>had to be an AWD turbo?

Don't know. There are and will be more AWD cars in production.

Let them homologate whatever engine they want, but limit them to 300 bhp like now.

I am not sure why a large manufacturer wouldn't want to do a 2500/5000 homologation. That isn't a large production run for a large manufacturer these days. They now have the tuner market to sell the cars into. They can generate showroom traffic. They can do a lot for a large manufacturer.

>I question how
>interesting 8500 rpm 2000cc AWD cars would be to a)
>manufacturers, b) drivers, c) spectators, or d) sponsors,
>though.

I am with you there.

alan
 

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>
>>>Do you think if the costs were reduced that other
>>>manufacturers would rush in?
>>
>>They did when the WRCar rules appeared, see below. There
>>were 4 manufacturers left in the GpA WRC after Lancia left
>>(Subaru, Mitsu, Ford, Toyota), but that increased to 7-8
>>under the WRCar rules.
>
>But did WRCar make things less expensive? Did WRCar cause
>the increase or did the growth just happen at the same time
>as the rule change?

The argument for adopting the WRCar rules was that there were manufacturers who weren't prepared to build runs of 2500 special cars just to enter the WRC. That may not be the case anymore, but it was certainly the reason Skoda hadn't been competing at the highest level. Currently the only company that bases their WRCar off a 4wd turbo street car is Subaru (the base homologation for Mitsu's WRCar is, I believe, a 2wd car).

>>>Why not just go back to old Group A and 5000 car
>>>homologations, so the manufacturers have a product to
>>>establish a direct connection between the sport and their
>>>customers. And dump the third driver limitations.
>>
>>Because building 5000 (or 2500 as they changed it to later)
>>AWD turbo street cars was too expensive for most
>>manufacturers. The WRCar rules were brought in to allow more
>>companies to play. It added Skoda, Seat, Peugeot, Citroen,
>>and Hyundai to the mix,
>
>Yeah, but there has also been a lot of consolidation in the
>auto industry, so there are less manufacturers to draw from.

Which is why you keep the formula as simple to meet as possible. Every manufacturer has at least one car that meets the homologation requirements for a WRCar and is currently on their showroom floor. If they want to save money, they should limit what can be homologated in the WRC variants, rather than changing the formula completely.


>>while Toyota and Ford stopped
>>building AWD turbo homologation specials. How many of the
>>companies would have built a new GpA homologation car if it
>>had to be an AWD turbo?
>
>Don't know. There are and will be more AWD cars in
>production.

The issue is whether these AWD cars are suitable as homologation specials, or whether there is substantial engineering that needs to be done before producing the homologation variant.

Lancia didn't feel it was worthwhile after 1992 (which may just have been a reflection of the competition budgets of the FIAT group).

Adrian
 

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>The issue is whether these AWD cars are suitable as
>homologation specials, or whether there is substantial
>engineering that needs to be done before producing the
>homologation variant.

I am sorta looking at it the other way. Make the homologation numbers high enough that the mfg has to think about how the homologation fits into their production so that they can get more of an across-the-model benefit from their participation in rally. Then they can fund it out of the test and safety budget, not the marketing and competition budget. Just an idea.

>Lancia didn't feel it was worthwhile after 1992 (which may
>just have been a reflection of the competition budgets of
>the FIAT group).

Well, that and Lancia had nothing left to prove. It was something like 6 championships in a row, right? Might as well get out while on top.

alan
 

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I think the perceived "big savings" in the Mosley proposal is "common componentry" rather than body shells and engines. However, some manufacturers love to show off their tecnological innovation side, which may make such things as a "one-size fits all" quaife/ hewland non-electronic AWD system" unworkable.

Whoever thinks there is still a 300hp limit on WRC cars is dreaming. They have air restrictors and displacement limits (and have to deal with fuel limitations)but that's it. This means they all make around 350 to 380 hp, but with tons and tons of torque at modest rpms.

The magic 300 hp number is PR baloney.
 

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Hmmm, interesting news. If WRC goes n/a, I guess that would mean I'm out of a job! x(

>2.0L NA touring car motors make over 300hp. They are
>hideously expensive, and don't last very long, but they
>would get the job done.

You're right, it's possible. But if their goal is to reduce costs, this would NOT be the way to do it. Making a reliable 300hp out of n/a 2L, and expecting it to last for any reasonable rally duration, would be expensive. Contrary to what many people think, the addition of a turbo doesn't always mean the costs go up. Also, durability of a turbocharged engine can exceed that of an n/a engine (given similar power ratings). Not convinced? Go check SAE Technical paper 2002-01-3362 "Durability Aspects of Turbocharged Versus Naturally Aspirated Racing Engines".

>Lotsa drivers have advocated dropping the electronics and
>sequentials to bring the driver more back into play. Cost
>savings would be enormous considering that a Prodrive 6
>speed paddle shift box costs $75k, or double what a WRC
>motor costs, or triple what a WRC body shell costs.

I would agree, except that I think your estimates of gearbox is conservative - I think it's more like 75 GBP. The way I see it is an interesting dichotomy between 2 main goals in racing: 1) entertainment/promotion and 2) competition/technology. Major OEMs use WRC to showcase their engineering in the ultimate goal to sell more production automobiles. Since the competition within the rules of professional racing is so fierce to "be the best", it allows motorsports engineers to dream up all sorts of inventive stuff, costs be damned. It's easier and cheaper to extract the first ~80% of a vehicles potential, but the costs increase significantly to get that last little bit of performance - that seems to me where the WRC is at today: There is an inflection point where the performance/value ratio goes awry, and the management that is writing the check says "Hmmm, we're spending a lot of money on this WRC thing - is it worth it for us?" Now, obviously, different manufacturers will have different thresholds for how much $$$ they are willing to spend, and there are usually external factors that dictate the decisiion (a la Mitsubishi, Ford's wavering, etc.)

There's probably a lot of low hanging fruit to chop (cost wise) in a WRC car, gearbox et al, would be a reasonable thing to look at (of course, the Xtrac and Magneti Marelli guys probably wouldn't say that :p). From a spectator/observer/fan perspective, I'm sure it would be more appealing to have a bit less technically wizardry, thereby reducing costs and opening the door for more competitors. In my opinion, though, that's a narrow fence to walk on, because you don't want to "dumb the cars down" to a point where the technophiles aren't interested anymore.

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>
>Whoever thinks there is still a 300hp limit on WRC cars is
>dreaming. They have air restrictors and displacement limits
>(and have to deal with fuel limitations)but that's it. This
>means they all make around 350 to 380 hp, but with tons and
>tons of torque at modest rpms.
>

It's actually more like 330 or 340. The 34mm restrictor chokes off the motors at high rpm, limiting hp. Most shift at 5500 to 6000. You are right though, mega torque, and very wide band. I've heard some cars are close to 500 ft lbs, although the low to middle 400's is probably more like it. Still, that kind of torque is normally seen on motors in the 400+hp range. Crazy.

Part of the problem I think is that it is now easy and cheap to buy 2.0l turbo street cars that make 300hp stock. A boost controller or ecu flash gets you up to 330 hp real quick. That means the WRC cars have lost some of the exotic sense that made them special. People expect top of the line race cars to have more power than their street rides.


>

Dennis Martin
[email protected]
920-432-4845
 

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- 2.0L Touring cars have 280HP, 8600 RPM limiter and they're bullet proof and not very expensive. A great WRC engine!
- The cost comes from a fancy electro-hydraulic tranny, active diffs and other hydraulic stuff, like adj sway bars, etc

- Non of the WRC teams build they own trannies. They come from Prodive, X-track, TransX and Hewland.

- Have an inexpensive, light weight Swedish HALDEX 4x4 system for all cars, like AUDI TT and Volvo. Plus a mechanical, non adjustable, lamel or gear diffs. No hydraulic sway bars, etc. All mechanical, including gear change. That's it.

- The only problem I see 2wd cars will be FASTER on tarmac and fast gravel rallies... like F2 cars were before being kicked out.
 

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I'd much rather watch old gr-a footage than current WRC because I can relate to the cars much more.

Watching the top drivers fighting for grip, down shifting while braking and in cars I can relate to.

Having Homologated cars back on the market would be cool.

Going back to gr-a would open WRC up to more privateer teams.

My opinion - Rally is cooler without F-1 technology.
 

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Absolutely, it would be awesome to see drivers doing their clutch-brake-accelerator pedal ballet once again, and actually shifting.

But, you can see from the end of the Group A days that there are very few manufacturers willing to build homologation specials, so we would be back to the current problem: few manufacturers willing to do what it takes to compete in the WRC.

It seems that the perfect middle ground would be to just eliminate the super expensive technology like others have suggested: the active diffs and sway bars, and the sequential/electronic/whatever-makes-them-$75k+ gearboxes. That alone would bring the cars back to the real world and make them easier to relate to real street cars, and put more control with the driver.

In this aspect the FIA could really learn something from the Finnish Group F: Just say "plate diffs and H-pattern gearboxes only" and be done with it!

I wonder how much money rolls from the suppliers of those high-tech components to the big wigs at the FIA to keep them from eliminating their wares from the rules.
 

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Why doesn't anyone just say what they are thinking?

Manufacturers put in their own motor and their own shell. Limit the weight reduction and re-placement of the shell and you limit some of the costs of the shell, none of this going under the weight min to add ballast to the transmission tunnel that we have now.

Spec diffs, transmission, sway bars, take about 90% of the technology out of the parts and you take about 80% ouf of those parts costs.


Make the rules still allow for 2wd cars to be AWD in WRC using the common components but allow for manufacturers to use their own motors and shells.


Motors represent a huge cost but if you make everything else the same it makes it harder for a manufacturer to use wins to show product quality, and atleast some WRC teams still do that....



Forgot to add shared radiators, intercoolers, tranny coolers, oil coolers, water and oil pumps, oil capacity (to somewhat cap engine building beyond the intake restrictor that I think should go to atleast 40mm) and braking components.....
 

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Yeah, I think lowering technology back to groupe A specs and enlarging the restrictor sizes to 38mm would be cool. If you didn't go to Mexico WRC last year, make sure you go in 2005! It might be the last year you'll hear the glorious chirps and crackles and pops associated with current turbocharged WRC cars. I almost wish the FIA would go in the opposite direction and lean more towards a groupe B-esque formula. 2400 lb min weight, 45mm restrictor, methanol fuel...........now that would be fun to watch! However, it would severely shorten the life expectancy of the drivers and spectators-probably not such a great idea.

Later,

Aaron McConnell
 
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