The new WRC rule pertaining to the nomination of a team’s third driver is good news for young drivers such as Hyundai’s Freddy Loix, but team bosses will have to make difficult decisions ahead of next season.

The new WRC rule pertaining to the nomination of a team’s third driver is good news for young drivers such as Hyundai’s Freddy Loix, but team bosses will have to make difficult decisions ahead of next season.

For 2004, a WRC team’s third driver must not have scored a podium in the rally series in the previous three years. This means that drivers such as Peugeot's Gilles Panizzi and Harri Rovanpera and Citroën's Carlos Sainz will not be eligible to drive for their current teams next year.

But the new rule will also put the likes of Loix into a position of strength when contracts are being discussed for next season, as he is an experienced driver who has not been on the podium lately.

“I am happy with that (the new rule), because it will give me a chance to drive in another car, but before I take the decision, I want to see what (team boss David) Whitehead is going to say about the future with Hyundai,” Loix said.

Younger drivers have welcomed new driver nomination proposals for the 2004 World Rally Championship, believing that new rules could improve their chances of getting full works drives.

“My first thought is that it is positive for us younger kids on our way into the World Championship scene and then the second thought is you only get one year to get a shot. It can be a little bit two-way. Hopefully, if I get full confidence from a team in a third car, I wouldn’t be too worried about that,” Suzuki Junior Championship runner Daniel Carlsson said.

“It’s a very, very good thing for me. It could give me a chance to get into a top team,” Peugeot’s French Championship contender Cedric Robert added.

But how do the teams’ managements feel about the new rule and how driver pairings would be structured in future? Although he maintains that Peugeot will be just as competitive next year, the French team’s Sporting Director Jean-Pierre Nicolas has criticised the driver nomination rule that obliges him to dispose of two of his current drivers for 2004.

“In my case, the proposal could seem to be good, but in reality, it is not good. The proposal today has a lot of drivers unable to go to the third car. This excludes too much. The current situation is much better, because it is good for everybody. There is freedom of each team and if they want young drivers, it is not a problem. There is no best situation, but today is not so bad,” Nicolas said. “The strategy we adopted three years ago with specialists is much better for the promotion of young drivers.”

However, Prodrive/Subaru Director David Lapworth said that the 555-backed squad was more likely to run three cars if the nomination rules were altered. In recent years, Subaru has tended to concentrate on just two.

“We would probably, but not certainly, take the tactic of trying a couple of young drivers,” Lapworth said. He maintained that the new rule would give drivers enough chance to prove their worth. “My feeling is that if you haven’t made the grade after two years, you’ve had your chance. There are a hell of a lot of football players in the world and they can’t all play for Manchester United, and nobody feels sorry for them.”

Original article from Car