The organisers of the South African National Rally Championship (NRC) put the lack of contention at the top down to the global economic downturn and the effect that the sagging rand has on importing the very expensive components needed to maintain these sophisticated machines. As such, and in an attempt to inject some new life into the sport and ensure its very survival, the NRC has taken a radical step of consolidating the entire national rally championship into the existing S1600 class from 2017.
But where does this leave existing S2000 drivers who don't want to migrate after investing heavily in their cars? According to the NRC, these cars will be (subject to certain conditions) able to compete in an open class from next year, "for the love of rallying" so to speak, but they will not be able to collect national championship points.
As mentioned, the switch to S1600 is all about cost and there really is a big difference between the two classes: S2000 being an all-wheel drive class for cars with engine capacities up to 2000cc and S1600 existing for front-wheel drive cars displacing 1.6-litres or less. As a simple example, the sequential gearbox alone in an S2000 car can easily cost in the region of R300 000, while an S1600's sequential unit is more likely to cost around R120 000.
As NRC Steering Committee chairman Chris Andrew puts it: "If we want the sport to survive, we need to think about making radical changes."
"Whichever way we look at it, the benefits are huge. Barriers to entry will be reduced, running costs will be cut significantly and, hopefully, as a result competitor numbers will increase and people will be drawn back to the sport".
While the teams have already been consulted, it remains to be seen how they'll respond and how the 2017 line-up will look. Will it attract new drivers? New teams and cars? All will be revealed in good time.
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Original source: National rally shake-up as S2000 dropped