François Ribeiro says he is seeking ‘quality not quantity’ for the first season of the newly-created WTCR World Touring Car Cup in 2018, as he expects teams to establish close relationships with manufacturers.
The new touring car series was announced after the FIA World Motor Sport Council decisions were published on Wednesday. It will see the WTCC downgraded to a Cup status, as Eurosport Events licences the TCR technical regulations from WSC Ltd for two years in a series free of manufacturer entries.
It was also revealed that the grid size will be capped to 26 full-season entries, with a further two wildcard entries allowed at the discretion of the promoter.
Head of Eurosport Events, François Ribeiro, explained that this was part of a desire to attract quality, not quantity, to the new series, with existing WTCC and TCR International Series teams being given priority entries if they wish to take them up.
“We agreed with the FIA that we are really after quality not quantity,” said Ribeiro to TouringCars.Net. “We have seen a few TCR races with a big grid of cars with a lot of red flags, a lot of racing incidents and a big discrepancy of driving standards, and we did not feel it was necessary for WTCR.
“I am after quality, and want strong teams and drivers to work with on a two-year basis and to make something as good as possible with them.
“If we have a grid of 26 full-season cars next year, it’s already a very big grid. And you don’t need more cars to deliver a good show.”
As part of that quality, Ribeiro added that he expects manufacturers to form close technical relationships with teams, even though their direct involvement through their own entries is not permitted.
He also confirmed that in order to combat large teams dominating, only two cars per team will be eligible for points in the teams’ classification.
“It is very difficult to prevent manufacturers from supporting a private team,” said Ribeiro. “If a manufacturer wants to have a privileged relationship with a team by supplying a car, driver or engineer, it’s very difficult to prevent.
“It was obviously already the case in TCR International, and obviously TCR International was never meant to be a manufacturer championship.
“I expect next year some manufacturers to have technical cooperation or privileged relationships with selected teams.”
Ribeiro also defended the additional cost of entering WTCR, which will have a €150,000 entry fee for a two-car team, compared to €40,000 per car in TCR International and €39,000 per car in the WTCC.
“I told all TCR manufacturers and TCR teams something very simple: I told them that WTCR is going to be a little more expensive than the running costs of TCR International,” added Ribeiro. “This is in no doubt, because there will be three races and the level of competition will be maybe a bit higher.
“The entry fees of the FIA will be a bit higher because the level of staff that we will have to manage the sporting and technical regulations and the fairness of the championship will be higher.
“So I told all of the TCR teams that WTCR will be a bit more expensive than you are currently spending, but you are going to gain a level of promotion which brings you hopefully a different level of recognition and TV coverage.
“And to all WTCC teams I told them that it would cost them less budget than WTCC and that they are going to protect their level of exposure for the next two years.
“In the end, I did not have any bad comments from either TCR or WTCC teams on the new set-up for next year.”