Max Mosley, president of FIA, the governing body of world motorsport, yesterday announ-
ced a major expansion of the World Rally Championship, held by Britain's Colin McRae.
On the eve of today's Swedish Rally, the opening round of this year's world championship, Mosley said: "In 1997 we will have 14 events. That will then rise to 16, as we have in Formula One. We've got to get it out of the little club level."
Mosley insisted extra rallies would raise the world championship's profile and dismissed suggestions it would impose too severe a burden on top drivers. "If you cut the number of rallies, they'd just increase the amount of time testing," he said.
Bernie Ecclestone, the FIA vice-president, said: "We've got to take a good look at making it entertaining. At the moment, on television, it is not."
A dispute erupted when it emerged that local radio stations were for the first time being charged up to pounds 3,300 to cover the rally. Sweden's Kenneth Eriksson said radio stations carried vital safety information for spectators and that the approved broadcaster did not cover the entire route.
Both Mosley and Ecclestone said they were unaware coverage had been so severely restricted and pledged to reach a last-minute agreement.