Following weeks of speculation, the WRC Commission has recommended that the FIA limit each team to just two front-rank drivers in 2004. A huge backlash is expected…

Following weeks of speculation, the WRC Commission has recommended that the FIA World Council limit each team to just two front-rank drivers in 2004.

CARtoday.com reported recently that the FIA wanted manufacturers with three official drivers to nominate a young driver, who had not finished in the top three on a World Championship rally in the past three years, as their third pilot.

The intention is to spread the top drivers more evenly among the works teams. On Tuesday, the proposal was forwarded to the FIA’s executive body - but according to certain teams and drivers are already very unhappy with this development.

On current form, this will oblige both Citroën and Peugeot to release drivers at the end of the season. Peugeot has two recognised allrounders in Richard Burns and Marcus Gronholm - although neither has won a World Championship rally on tarmac - but might choose to dispense with Gilles Panizzi and Harri Rovanpera. Citroen’s dilemma is more acute, as Sébastien Loeb, Colin McRae and Carlos Sainz are all proven winners. Indeed, Loeb and Sainz have won rallies this year.

“The problem is: politically, everybody seems convinced that we should be entering three cars, even though for some teams this is still an issue,” said Peugeot's team boss Corrado Provera. “In order to keep these cars, we should find a compromise by which the third car is driven by a ‘weaker' driver. I don't like this It pulls down our sport.”

Smaller teams, however, are more in favour of such a change, which would bring all teams on a more level ground, at least in the driver department. For a young, inexperienced driver, the new rule may be a good opportunity to land a drive.