Colin McRae and Richard Burns have both revealed that they don't think it is looking good for Britain, as the 2004 season looms and no Brit will be taking part in the 2004 World Rally Championship.

Although the flag will still be waved in both the Junior and Production categories, most noticeably with Guy Wilks, Kris Meeke, Alister McRae and Mark Higgins, the UK will have no representation in the premier category, following the exit of both McRae and Burns, the latter due to illness, and the former as he failed to secure a drive.

McRae and Burns also believe that the situation might not change in 2005 or 2006.

Speaking to British newspaper, The Daily Telegraph, McRae, who is backing Meeke, commented: "It's not looking good for Britain and I do worry about the situation.

"Alister can't get sorted out with a WRC drive, and Mark and Martin [Rowe] have missed the boat as well. Everybody regards them as now being too old. You're then looking at the next tier down, to Guy Wilks and Kris Meeke.

"I wouldn't get involved with somebody unless I felt they were good enough to do it, and Kris is definitely good enough. But budgets are difficult to find. I couldn't even raise enough to get myself a drive! When I was setting out you'd scrape enough for a rally and hope a decent result would enable you to push for the next event.

"Now you have to commit to the whole championship and if you don't there are huge penalties. A young driver can end up with a two-year ban. This is totally unacceptable, yet the FIA are supposed to be supporting young drivers."

Burns also agrees with his countryman, that the future, at least in the short term is bleak.

The Englishman who won the title in 2001, will sit out the 2004 campaign, as treatment continues on a brain tumour, although Subaru have said his drive will still be there next year [2005], it remains to be seen if he will return to the WRC.

Burns added: "We are struggling for British drivers, there's no question about it. I hope we don't skip a generation, but the way things are going that is a possibility.

"People have to have the motivation to succeed, but it's not good having the motivation if you don't have the opportunity.

"Wilks and Meeke are capable but they're competing against young drivers who are better prepared and supported. There's no reason why our motor sport governing body can't support young drivers as the French and Finnish federations do.

"It's no surprise that Sebastien Loeb has developed so well because he's been groomed in France. He's gone up through the ranks and is a credit to their schemes. If we don't have these schemes then we can only rely on the motivation of the individual, which isn't making it a level playing field."

The message it seems is clear - GB's young rally drivers need support.

 

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