M-Sport boss Malcolm Wilson believes the future of the World Rally Championship is bright, even though there is still no television deal in place for the UK.
“I mean, it still doesn't look good because there's nothing on UK TV, but I think all the right building blocks have been put in place with Red Bull Media House and The Sportsman Media Group,” he told Crash.net
ahead of this weekend's Rally Sweden. “But one thing that the sport needed was a credible promoter and I think we've got that. I think anyone knows that if Red Bull do something, they do it right and don't mess about.
“I think the frustrating thing at the moment is that everyone is looking to have a solution immediately, but I have to say that I fully appreciate and understand it can't happen immediately, as there's a lot that needs to be put in place.”
Wilson was also quick to attribute Citroen's Sebastien Loeb's decision to run a scaled back programme in 2013, as well as rival Volkswagen's involvement, to renewed interest in the sport.
“Not that I want to in any way criticise Sebastien, but he has cost us seven [manufacturers and drivers] titles out of nine. The fact that he's going to step down will give a new outlook to what the WRC has been like compared to the last nine years that he's won.
“There's no question about it,” continued the 56 year-old. “It's the first time there's going to be a different world champion since 2004, so that in itself is going to create a lot of interest and then there is the investment that VW is making.”
Wilson also added that the high standard of driving amongst the WRC's current crop of younger drivers, including those in his M-Sport team – which lost Ford's manufacturer backing at the end of last season, bodes well for the future of the sport.
“I think we saw in Monte Carlo that there were some great performances by some of these youngsters. That is something I'm really excited about, and this is going to make it really exciting.
“Even though we [M-Sport] came away with some disappointment in Monte Carlo [Mads Ostberg finished sixth in his Fiesta RS WRC with two fastest stage times, whilst team-mates Evgeny Novikov, Thierry Neuville and Juho Hanninen all failed to finish], we still came away with a lot of confidence that we can still challenge and put these [the leaders and manufacturer backed teams] under pressure.”
“I really think we can win this year,” he concluded with confidence.
by George East