by Rob Wilkins

1989 RAC winner Pentti Airikkala has slammed the decision to start 'rotating' World Rally Championship events from 2009 - and has warned that it is going to be a 'total mess'.

Under the new proposals, which come into force next season, each round in the WRC will take place once every two calendar years. Already this has led to the loss of the legendary Monte Carlo Rally - one of the most prestigious and well-known rallies in the world, which will now form the opening round in the 2009 Intercontinental Rally Challenge.

It also means there will be no Rallye de France-Tour de Corse in '09, while in 2010 - provisionally at least, there is no Wales Rally GB, no Neste Rally Finland or no Acropolis Rally of Greece.

Airikkala is convinced this has nothing to do with what is good for the sport and implied that it is being done for ulterior motives: "It has been tried before and it was a total mess. It will be the same this time," he told Crash.net Radio last month at the Castle Combe Rallyday.

"Why don't we support the events that are doing well and then let them stay on the calendar? It is all political and that is why they are rotating them. It is basically because [FIA president] Max Mosley wants to have various countries in so they will vote for him - and one way to do that is to say: 'I will give you a WRC event'. All kinds of countries are coming up - but it is not good for the sport."

As for the future, Airikkala has a clear vision on how he would like the WRC to develop, not that he thinks it will happen: "The answer is easy - just go to rear-wheel drive cars [again] - the only problem is it will be too popular then," he continued.

"The cars would go sideways and there would be too many people wanting to watch it and then you would have a crowd problem. But that is a small issue to deal with.

"You can imagine if you have three-litre engines and normally aspirated - the engines will make a lovely noise. None of these turbo charged noises. It would be great.

"The big problem with four-wheel drive cars is that the engine power is so important. The more power you have the better results you can get. But that is not the case with rear-wheel drive. If you have 300 horsepower, that is enough, more than enough, to put down the traction.

"Also if you make it a one-make tyre series - and we have that now anyway with Pirelli in the WRC - and you make the tyres with virtually no grip at all, it would all be so much cheaper. The gearboxes won't break and the brakes will last longer. Okay it will be more difficult to drive a car like that - but don't we want to find out who is the best driver?

"Luckily there is a very simple solution then for the World Rally Championship. But is it going to happen? No, it is the usual thing. The people that are doing well don't want any changes."

1972 RAC winning co-driver and former Top Gear star Tony Mason meanwhile concurred in a separate interview with Crash.net Radio that rotation is bad and he branded it a 'retrograde step'.

"I think it is a pity to lose some of the very great classic rallies, which will happen. Indeed our own British one - Wales Rally GB - looks set to disappear [in 2010] and the Monte Carlo Rally won't happen next year [as part of the WRC] and other events like that," he stated.

"I always feel the WRC should be made up of well known and famous events. It is all very well going and having new ones in Jordan and Poland and places like that. But I don't believe they have the same pull as the great, great classics. I think those four or five big classics should stay in every year."

TO HEAR THE INTERVIEW IN FULL WITH PENTTI AIRIKKALA - RECORDED PRIOR TO THE WRC EVENTS IN SPAIN AND FRANCE: CLICK HERE

TO HEAR THE INTERVIEW IN FULL WITH TONY MASON - RECORDED PRIOR TO THE WRC EVENTS IN SPAIN AND FRANCE: CLICK HERE