What is WRC2Pro?
WRC2Pro is a new WRC support championship for manufacturers of R5 specification rally cars. Privateer drivers and teams cannot enter individually although there are driver and co-driver championships within WRC2Pro. Conversely only drivers and co-drivers (or teams), not manufacturers can enter WRC2. There is no manufacturer championship within WRC2.
So far three manufacturers have fielded cars:
- M-Sport Ford
There are three more manufacturers of R5 homologated cars who could enter:
It is possible Toyota may begin production in the future. See the current WRC2Pro table.
Why have WRC2Pro?
To Sell Rally Cars
The first advantage to WRC2Pro is to create a genuine and fair competition for the manufacturers. They can only enter a maximum 2 drivers per WRC round. Hyundai, Citroen and Volkswagen are all accelerating their R5 sales and customer programs with Proton and Toyota planning to enter the market soon. Competition in the R5 sales market is therefore growing and the championship would help to promote and sell each manufacturer’s R5 rally car. Potential customers include privateer entrants in WRC2 as well as national and regional championships worldwide.
To make WRC2 fair and encourage entries
The second benefit to having a WRC2Pro championship is it makes WRC2 more attractive to privateer driver and team entrants. In recent years WRC2 has been dominated by two manufacturers, Skoda Motorsport and M-Sport, although much of the entry field are private drivers. Naturally many private entrants cannot compete with the resources of a manufacturer. Therefore moving them to their own series should encourage more participation in WRC2 with a better chance of a true privateer winning. Rallying has always encouraged and embraced drivers of all commitment and budget even if a driver only enters their home event in a hired car. The separation of WRC2Pro can encourage all ends of the market.
To Develop Talent
A side effect to having the WRC2Pro championship is the opportunity for season long programs for young drivers. For 2019 M-Sport have given seats to Gus Greensmith and Lukasz Pieniazek whilst Skoda have kept Kalle Rovanpera. It may be true these would have been their drivers in WRC2 anyhow but if all 6 manufacturers had 2 cars at every rally there would be plenty of opportunity. In the Pro drivers championship only the best 6 results count so there would likely be more than 2 drivers if the manufacturer did all events. It is not transparent what the commercial agreements between drivers and manufacturers are now but it is a possibility for the future.
The Problems With WRC2Pro
Uptake by the manufacturers has been a little slow in the opening three rounds of 2019. Hyundai and Volkswagen have not entered at all, although they can enter at any point in the season. Citroen have only entered one car into one event – Sweden. Their car won the rally but M-Sport won more points because their two cars finished 2nd and 3rd. In Mexico M-Sport just had to finish with their one car to score 25 points. Manufacturers must enter a minimum of 7 rounds, one of which must be outside of Europe. It is early days for the championship and it’ll be interesting to see how the series grows.
Another source of confusion is what makes a manufacturer entry. It appears Skoda had entered the running of one of it’s cars in Sweden via a third party team. Essentially this is the same as nominating a driver from WRC2. We need clarification on what exactly a manufacturer entrant is and what the commercial agreement limits are. Also, if a manufacturer is to pay to enter a customer does that mean they would they be losing a sale?