Has the World Rally Championship got a bit boring?
Perhaps. The series is currently in the third year of a run of domination by a Frenchman called Sebastien (Ogier, driving for Volkswagen), after a nine-year run of domination by a Frenchman called Sebastien (Loeb, driving for Citroen).
Then there’s the cars. The 2.0-litre monsters of old (officially 320bhp and 400-ish lb/ft of torque, actually well over 400bhp and pushing 600lb/ft) were ditched after 2010 to be replaced with the current generation of 1.6-litre whippets.
Comparatively, the current World Rally Cars look a bit dull, aren’t all that fast and, though capable of long four wheel drifts, don’t really do lurid, tail-out spectacularness.
But that is set to change from 2017 when a new set of rules comes into force that will make the cars more dramatic to look at, lighter and faster.
The changes were agreed at a meeting of the World Motor Sport Council in Mexico last week. The specs are based on the present regulations, so the cars will still be 1.6-litre superminis.
But the 2017 rules allow bigger rear wings, wider sills, longer front and rear overhangs and mahoosive wheelarches, thanks to a 55mm increase in maximum width. The image above is the official rendering and it looks like a rally car as designed by Batman. Awesome, in other words.
Under the bonnet, the size of the turbo restrictor increases to 36mm, upping power to 380bhp. Electronically-controlled centre differentials return and 25kg has been lopped off the permissible weight.
FIA technical director Bernard Niclot said:
“There were three main objectives with these regulations: make the car spectacular, be mindful of costs, and maintain, if not increase safety. The cars will be striking, there is no doubt about that, and there are small but always significant improvements in relation to safety.”
Reigning world champion and current points leader, Sebastien Ogier, is looking forward to the new car:
“As a racing driver you are always looking for more performance. I think the larger wing and new aerodynamics will give the car a bit more downforce, more grip and more speed going into corners.
This is also good for the show, as the extra power will definitely make the driving more spectacular for the fans. And it will also make the car look a bit more aggressive with a wider body.”
Toyota will return to the WRC in 2017 after an 18-year absence, campaigning the Yaris WRC under the Toyota Gazoo Racing banner and team boss Tommi Makinen. Volkswagen, Citroen, Ford and Hyundai are set to remain. By then, all but Hyundai may well have next-generation versions of the Polo, DS3 and Fiesta road cars to work with (Hyundai will switch to the latest i20 next year).
For more information click here
By Only Motors