WRC changes starting order rules for Estonia return

The World Rally Championship has revised the starting order rules for the series’ return to action in Estonia in September.

Rally Estonia, which is making its debut on the WRC map this year, will take place over just two days, with 70 percent of the running scheduled on Saturday.

This would have put championship leader Sebastien Ogier (Toyota) at a significant disadvantage over his rivals, as he would have had to open the roads for the entirety of Day 1 and therefore the majority of the rally.

But the WRC has changed its rules on a one-off basis to counter this situation, with Ogier now only required to start first in the morning loop on Saturday. 

From the day’s second loop, the WRC will revert to the procedure that normally comes into effect on Day 2, with the driver leading the rally at that point starting last and so on.

If the experiment proves to be a success, the WRC could reintroduce this rule for more short-distance events like Rally Estonia.

The starting order rules have been a source of controversy for WRC in the past, with Ogier finding himself at the centre of it when the series dictated in 2015 that the championship leader must start the first two days of each rally from first position.

Although it didn’t stop Ogier from adding two more titles to his tally in 2015 and ‘16, the Frenchman was adversely affected in gravel rallies and the rule was eventually changed ahead of the start of the 2017 season – the first after Volkswagen’s exit.

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