He responded in an unexpected way to a question that Autosport asked fans via Twitter: “Which of these brands would you like to see enter the WRC?”
The Belgian driver did not hesitate to reply: “Wrong question! What you should be asking yourself is whether the promoters of the WRC and the FIA will be able to keep the current manufacturers.”
After a shocking response, the promoters and the FIA say they are in talks to add one, maximum two more brands to the existing squad. But of course Neuville has another belief from the inside, and many fans fear that Hyundai will one day soon decide to leave the WRC and enter F1, especially since Cyril Abiteboul has been put in charge of Hyundai Motorsport .
Apparently, the Belgians were ‘questioned’ before the Rally de Portugal on these issues and they answered clearly. “I think nobody understands how dramatic this moment is. As a driver I clearly see that less and less media is interested … I see it not only in the WRC, But also in Belgium,” Neuville said to a question from Motorsport.
Neuville’s approach is not unique. In other words though, Toyota has already clearly stated that the future of rallies should be hydrogen and Jari Matti Latvala has pointed out that current rallies1 are prohibitively expensive. And many fans do not understand exactly how the hybrid system works, while the brands present complain that the FIA-supplied system has several flaws.
For Neuville, the rallies are very ‘static’ and this may add to the fact that he has lost a good part of his DNA. They are short, for sprints; Years ago, the same timed distance was covered in a national test of one and a half, maximum two days. There’s a lot of dead time, a lack of rhythm. Work park status schedules and routes etc. It is also true that, with current requirements, the linear rallies of the past are unattainable, but it gives the impression that, in a certain way, they wanted to adjust the test to the cars, not the cars to the specialty.
Curiously, this notion stands in stark contrast to the success of the Rally 2 category, which includes a dozen brands, and the one that the nascent Rally 3 will have. or the N5 incident, despite the fact that they do not precisely respond to the ‘pyramid’ conceived by the FIA.
“I think manufacturers are involved in a different way than in the past. There’s a whole range of inputs that tell me things are not going in the right direction and it’s necessary to react,” said Newville, who took stock of the situation. With innovations that he is rehearsing for F1 or MotoGP, “whereas rallies don’t change” and explains that racing through forests on a dirt track may not be as spectacular as on television.
Neuville said the drivers’ voice should also be heard by the FIA and the brands, including what can be done in the promotional area.