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Disclaimer: This is a complex text that many will not dare to write, and even less to publish :)  Maybe we are a litle bit crazy... well not a litle bit... a big bit.  Anyway, here goes nothing:
 
We think is fair to say that during the most recent years it looks like Cross-Country rally as a sport is until a certain point  crystalized , with no significative changes happening.  As far as we can see, and now with RRN we do have a much more global view (not complete yet, but we hope to get there)  of what is happening, apparently  there is some kind of "bubble" keeping the people who already are part of the sport inside but doesn't attract or let news ones enter, including teams, brands and sponsors.  There are a few obvious exceptions who contradicts us.  This is just our view,  which probably  isn’t the right one. It’s simply our view.
 
We follow several championships and global events, but like we told before the names either from the participants, the teams or the vehicles are becoming very repetitive, with few new values showing up at an international level. And when new names do show up, often vanish fast.  And in many cases when the names change is not because there are new ones in, is because the older ones had retired either due to the age or high cost of the sport at an high level and left the space for others to finally close in at the top places.
 
Each and every single of us will have his own personal opinion about the problems, their causes and possible solutions. In the next lines we will mention just a few situations that will certainly be generally accepted.
 
Dakar 2018, Lisbon. The "race that never begun".
Our times are certainly different from back 10 or 20 years ago.  The public opinion, addicted to the likes in social media and poisoned by extremely dangerous "political correct" reacts instantly to unfortunate events of any kind and refuses to give support to someone who really deserves it.  A practical example we can give, and we see it happening live every day on our portal,  is when we publish the news of an unknow driver or team that wins a race, no matter how impressive the result is, this article will not catch to much attention.  Now, it only takes someone to share or publish  a photo or a video with the words "crash" or "accident" and that same content immediately becomes viral.  People do thrive on the others mishaps.  And this do even have a nastier effect, because catches attention of everyone, even those that do never speak about the sport expect in these cases, doing it to show how dangerous, how expensive, how damaging the sport is.   And this is what most of the public sees, creating a very wrong image around the sport.     The effect... Someone outside the "CCR bubble" retains the wrong idea, possible participants do not enter, possible sponsors do not give support, local authorities do not get interested and sometimes event forbidden the events considering to dangerous and damaging for their reputation.
 
And speaking about the authorities,  politics is always relevant and is generally accepted that some part of political game makes part of the story.  Politics can be the saviour or the ripper of any event, and people in politics do worry a lot with public opinion, especially in election times. Bad public opinion, often based on wrong arguments means no support from politics. The opposite, a good image of the sport among the public can captivate politics attention.  Sometimes unfortunately it becomes more complicated than this, and in the end the sports ends up being used as a tool to achieve other goals.
 
Other problem that is growing year after year is some different views about the environment and conservation issues. It has no dispute at all that the we must take really good care of the environment, but that doesn't mean that all activities must be shut down.  An open discussion, without fundamentalisms should be made in each and every place where sensitive issues rise, problem is that it is not made, and organizers do find themselves often in front of people with very radical ideas about the environment. 
We believe that there are solutions for these problems. In our events we always found them. In most case simple common sense solves problems, and there are plenty of  ideas can be applied to minimize and bring the impact on nature down to an harmless level.

Linked to the environmental issues is the actual "demonization" of diesel engines, maybe not by the right motives, but it is still a big nail in the coffin. There are plenty of new technologies to clean up this type of engines that were reaching in normal day by day usage incredibly low consumptions.  Among the many ramifications this has, it is affecting and will the sport.
 
Maybe not the best image, as this cars does really have a smoking demon inside the engine. But not all are like this and there is soluttions to solve this problem
But if list of "outside" problems is near endless, inside the sport there also quite a few.   In our times no one gives value to something like "Be part of the best sport", but all people care to be "The best part of the sport". This is incredible easy to see when many racers, some very influential give up their calendar and season when they see they don't have the chance to be the champion or winner.  And they also give up of their sporting programs  if they secured the win before the end, they don't show up at the last races.   Should be fun to see if everyone had this attitude, 50 cars on the starting line, and everybody giving up just because they can't win, leaving the "star shining alone in the dark".   Not many drivers and rides race for the love of the sport and adventure, and many race only for the glory.  But at least as a respect for the adversaries and organizers, some participants should try to enter some races more, because more people will be there so see them, they will show their sponsors, the race and himself will benefit, a better entry list gets more attention from media and public, and maybe in the future when they need the points of that race, they will have a real good event to score points and not just an "walk in the park"  in un almost unknow race, in a forgotten place.
 
We don't advocate a "purely" romantic view of the sport. This activity costs a lot of money and each race brings together a big invoice to the participants. And of course the "Glory of winning" is important, as it is maybe the biggest magnet to attract racers, much more potent than the adventure of racing cross-country or the love of speed.  But we are sure that wining a race with 50, 100, or even more cars is much more "ego friendly" than winning one 10 cars race almost unseen. 
 
Something that is even puzzling for us is the multiplying of races (even if we think more is better), but coincident or very close dates in regions very far apart is at least strange. Only a very rich team could afford to be everywhere, and those do not exist.  This strange competition among races probably will not be so beneficiary as it looks, because the participants will split themselves lowering "status" each and every one of the events, or they will end up choosing one reducing the other to insignificant or just to local impact.  FIA and FIM should have a more intervenient role in this, working in conjunction with the national federations, establishing an international calendar that makes sense, without entering wars and leaving space for new ideas to grow.
 
Citroen ZX Evolution Baja (Baja Nicola 1000 - Portugal), from the times Citroen and Mitsubishi were the main teams on the sport
This sport that should be one of top motorsports, almost so global like F1 and WRC ended up in a situation that all the manufactures departed, cutting an important blood line (of money and resources) that was essential to the development of new cars.  Even the drivers pushed harder, racing in the smaller teams, to show their value and get a chance to drive an official car.  Today are mostly private companies who runs the sport, with more or less support from a few brands that are involved but in a secondary role.
And we could be wrong, but we don't see new companies/teams entering with enough strength to rival the installed powers, unless, like the drivers, they get bored and give up racing.
  
From within the sport there is also a growing distance between teams, drivers and the extremely necessary public.  Few teams engage with the public, bringing people closer to the drivers, to the cars, creating events that reduce the gap and show all the fun and excitement of cross-country rallies.
We were always big supporters of Robby Gordon, as he brought something new to the sport. His different attitude made from himself a crowd favourite.  People can argument against us and against Gordon's sometimes reckless behaviour, but we have the data from our platforms that show when something about Gordon was published, it got much more interest from our readers than anyone else.  Gordon proximity to the crowd, his stunts, his "no compromise" way of racing, even if they were badly received by the other teams and adversaries were amazing to catch the public attention. 
We aren't saying that it was perfect, not at all, but the other teams, drivers and organizers should pay a bit more attention to this. The public can't be kept away and neither the sport should lose the entertainment side. More actions with the public, creating rules that at least allow the show to return, and not turning the sport is something hermetic and clinic.  The spectacle component of the sport is maybe one of the most important.  For example, when a "show area" is created in a stage, it gathers a crowd in a usually safe place and controlled by the organizers.  But many drivers don't like these sections specially because there is people there, which is quite odd, because this is the perfect spot to show the logos on their cars.  The same logos they seek each season to support their races, using as a captivating argument the numbers of spectators and views.  So how can this be? One says that the sport as thousands of spectators, but then doesn't want those same spectators to come close and see them?
The public goes to the races to see something they don't see in their normal day by day life. To just see a car pass fast in a cloud of dust, people don't need the races.  Racing must be a spectacle who attracts  public, and with the public comes the sponsors, the media and ultimately the necessary support for the events.
 
Elisabete Jacinto and her team are one of few who is very active in promoting her own image and also sponsor's image showing her vehicles and herself to the public and media.
 
And finally, we should point or fingers to the governing bodies of the sport.  Maybe they aren't the exact source of the problems, but should introduce changes in the near future to allow for new "blood" to come in, to reduce costs, push more for the promotion either by the national federations or by the international entities.  And the rules, at least some, shouldn't be so complicated and limitative, because the vehicles despite their paint and logos become very uniform in looks and performance.
 
We could write ten times more lines and get many arguments to show that something must be done urgently, otherwise our bubble will shrink, and maybe one day make the final "pop" leaving us only the amazing memories of a once great sport full of excitement and adventure.  
 
The real purpose of this text is to shake a little bit the waters and become a "start of the conversation". We all that love this sport and are part of it, either being a fan, a team member or owner, a organizer, media and so on must start doing something, and is not trying be better or smarter, is cooperating.  And forget the romantism of the old days, as that times will never return.  We must adapt and evolve, or we will be doomed.
 
For the ones that do not know us, we don't limit ourselves to the media work on the Rally-Raid Network portal, we do much more in what is related to cross-country rallies, either assuming positions in the organization of races or being part of the teams. This allowed us to during the past years to get a clear and clearer 360º view of what is happening and some right to have an informed opinion, probably not the most accurate, but close to it.  But above all, and this is the most important for us,  we are fans of this sport, which from some angles looks like to be going by dangerous path with no roadbook at all, and we don't want just to be passengers in this "doomed racing vehicle". We must do something, even if   it is something so simple like make people think  and talk about all about this. Even just to criticize us. 
 
In our push forward we will interview during the next months several people who are involved in the sport, from the organizers, to team members, probably also to the media and even just some fans. But we will start by the top, with an interview to someone very special who is helping to draw the path for the future of the sport.   The view for this work if mostly from a international point of view, but we will always take a look at the reality of the different countries, as often their problems are common.
 
Feel free to reach us, send us or comments or your view. Do you think we are wrong? We are right? Tell us about your experience. Our plan is to make a special section in our site where we will publish all and we want you to be there.
The usual "disclaimer" is mandatory... no offensive language, no bad words, no personal attacks on anyone, no religion or politics, etc etc.  
 
And if you read this text until here thank you for your interest. You are probably one of the persons we need to make “our sport great again”.
 
Finally please do excuse our written English, not the best at all, and in such a long a complicated text should surely be full or errors.

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