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.