Pons criticises 'dangerous' itinerary
Motorsport's foremost female competitor, Italian Fabrizia Pons, may quit the sport next year in protest over what she believes is a dangerous increase in the number of events proposed for the World Rally Championship.
This year, nine events make up the WRC, but the FIA (world motorsport's governing body) is proposing to stage 14 rounds next season with the possibility of 16 the year after.
'It seems that the FIA is planning to make rallying like Formula One but it is just not possible,' said Pons, who will compete in the final 555 Hong Kong to Beijing Rally in October.
A veteran of 161 rallies - 51 of them on the World Championship circuit - over the past 20 years, Pons believes the demands on drivers and the teams would become just too great.
'A Formula One race is held over two hours, but a rally is staged over three days and we also have to complete reccies,' Pons explained. 'We are not machines, we need time off between events.
'I think rallying will become very dangerous. It seems that the FIA is more interested in the cash that can be generated from more events.' Pons cited her schedule over the next couple of months as an example of the demands placed upon international rally drivers and their navigators.
She flies to Perth tomorrow for the Australian Rally which begins on September 13. Straight after the event - which finishes on September 16 - she flies to the territory to complete the 3,800-kilometre reccie for the 555 Hong Kong to Beijing Rally.
Then it's on to Italy for the WRC round at San Remo which begins on October 13 followed by a return flight to the territory for the start of the 555 Hong Kong to Beijing Rally, which begins on October 19.
The energy-sapping schedule doesn't end there. Straight after the finish in Beijing's Tiananmen Square she leaves that night for the Rally of Catalunya which begins on November 3.
'The next two months are going to be very demanding,' the mother of two young boys admits.
Pons is in her first season with compatriot Piero Liatti in a 555 Subaru World Rally Team Impreza.
'Piero has asked me about next season but I have told him that I'm not looking that far ahead and won't decide anything until the end of the year,' Pons said.