British auto racer Louise Cook, who become the first ever female ever to gain a non female FIA rally championship title in 2012 (see http://www.examiner.com/article/louise-cook-becomes-1st-woman-to-gain-fia-rally-championship-title), now plans to make 2013 her biggest and best year yet, by continuing to gain the much needed experience and develop her talents further with an R2 class rally car. This gives a compromise between cost and gaining the right experience. She will then upgrade to the R3 class for the 2014 season to fight for the championship title.
In 2014 there will be at least three R3 options available that can fight for the title the current Citroen DS3 R3T, the Ford Fiesta R3T and the Renault Clio R3T.
"It is not the exact plan I had. I had a 3 year plan to win the PWRC. This year was about gaining 4 wheel drive experience then challenging for the PWRC championship in 2014. We have had to adapt to the changes and now it is a slightly different approach. I know that staying with a front wheel drive car for 2013 will give me more pace long term, which is the main focus, so it is definitely positive. The 4 wheel drive machines provide a lot more grip and if you can go quickly with only 2 wheel drive grip, it should make it easier to push the 4 wheel drive later on,” she stated.
Alterations to her original strategy have come about due to major changes in The World Rally Championship for this year, one of the most notable being the new promoters of the championship. The championship will now be promoted by Red Bull Media House which should bring a big boost to the way that the WRC is transposed.
The other major change is the support championships. The Production World Rally Championship, which Louise contested in 2012 with her three-year plan for an outright championship win, has now been replaced with WRC3. The championship has adopted a system similar to that used in Moto GP with WRC1 being the outright World Rally Championship cars, WRC2 being all other 4WD cars and WRC3 now for front wheel drive R class cars.
The Production World Rally Championship, now being replaced with WRC3, is the biggest change. Louise became the FIA WRC 2WD Cup Champion in 2012, but it would seem that the FIA have identified that the entry level priority for WRC should be with the 2WD machines to give younger drivers the chance to gain experience at the highest level. The regulation change means that the class no longer supports 4WD production cars such as the Subaru Impreza and the Mitsubishi Lancer and now supports the new bread of rally cars, the R class cars.
The R class cars are specifically designed for rally and the higher the R number, the higher the machine specification i.e. R1 basic spec and R5 the top R spec. WRC3 class is only open to the front wheel drive machines being R1, R2 and R3 type cars.
The difficulty for Louise is a top class WRC3 car is an R3 variant. These are significantly more costly than a car that would have competed for outright victory in the previous PWRC class. A 4WD Production World Rally Championship car would be around £50,000. A new WRC3 class leading car would be an R3 variant which is a more substantial cost of around £80,000.
2013 WRC Calender nominated rounds TBC:
1/20 Monte Carlo Rally
2/10 Rally Sweden
3/10 Rally Mexico
4/14 Rally Portugal
5/05 Rally Argentina
6/02 Acropolis Rally
6/23 Rally d'Italia
8/04 Rally Finland
8/25 Rallye Deutschland
9/15 Rally Australia
10/06 Rallye de France
10/27 Rally de España
11/17 Rally of Great Britain
For a related article see http://www.examiner.com/article/danica-dominates-at-daytona-patrick-beco...