2016 marked the end of an era in the World Rally Championship. Undisputed champions Volkswagen bid an emotional farewell to the series they’ve dominated so memorably for the past four years whilst the old guard of World Rally Cars made their final bow with a new breed of faster, more powerful machines revving up on the sidelines. This month, WRC is back and rebooted for a brand new season of action. On the eve of the 2017 campaign, Inside Lane takes you on a comprehensive tour through every aspect of the world’s premier rallying series. From the familiar teams and established stars to fresh-faced contenders and incredible next generation rally cars, Inside Lane has all bases covered in this, the complete guide to WRC 2017.
Every day this week, we’ll be running the rule over each of the teams and drivers gunning for WRC’s ultimate prize in 2017. But first, let’s take a closer look at the new technical and sporting regulations that form the backdrop to the coming season.
And so a new era begins. After years of anticipation, the season that promises to revolutionise rallying’s premier competition is finally upon us. They’ve been locked away in the testing labs and wind tunnels for months, but now a new breed of more powerful, more aggressive rally cars are ready to be unleashed, snorting and growling, onto the WRC battlefield. But what exactly is so special about this year’s bunch of gravel grinders and asphalt annihilators? Allow us to elaborate.
Introducing the World Rally Car of 2017
It’s no secret that the world rally car of 2017 promises to be the closest thing yet to the legendary Group B monsters from the series’ heyday in the mid-80’s. Although there’s nothing approaching the ludicrous power possessed by icons of yesteryear such as the Lancia Delta S4 and the MG Metro 6R4, the 2017 stable does get a significant boost in the engine room. Power is up from 300bhp to 380bhp thanks to the inclusion of larger turbo restrictors whilst electronically-controlled centre differentials have been sanctioned for the first time. The 2017 crop will be 25kg lighter than their predecessors and sport radically new aero packages thanks to a 55mm width increase, greater overhangs and larger rear wings. More than anything, it’s this visual impact that instantly evokes that misty Group B nostalgia.
And the rules of engagement?
A few significant changes to sporting regulations will add some additional spice to mix for WRC 2017. The most important of these surrounds the age-old conundrum of the starting order. The issue of who tackles the road first becomes a particularly thorny issue one on gravel event, where the rough stuff put the early runners at a significant disadvantage.
Last year, drivers started in championship order for days one and two with day three determined by reverse rally classification. 2017 will see a return to the old system whereby cars start in championship order for day one only. Subsequently, WRC drivers will go off in order of reverse classification from the previous day, followed then by any restarting crews and finally the rest of the field.
Secondly, the top five drivers on the event closing Power Stages will all be awarded championship bonus points as of 2017. This translates as five points up for grabs for a fastest time compared to the previous three, with subsequent fastest finishers awarded four, three, two and one respectively.
Lastly, manufactures can now nominate up to three point-scoring drivers on each event as opposed to the previous two, with the two highest ranked finishers registering constructor’s points for their team. 2017 regulations also put an end to the requirement for a team to nominate a lead driver who must complete a minimum number of events.
|Rallye Monte Carlo||19.01. – 22.01.2017|
|Rally Sweden||09.02. – 12.02.2017|
|Rally Guanajuato México||09.03. – 12.03.2017|
|Tour de Corse||06.04. – 09.04.2017|
|Rally Argentina||27.04. – 30.04.2017|
|Rally de Portugal||18.05. – 21.05.2017|
|Rally Italia Sardegna||08.06. – 11.06.2017|
|Rally Poland||29.06. – 02.07.2017|
|Rally Finland||27.07. – 30.07.2017|
|Rallye Deutschland||17.08. – 20.08.2017|
|Rally de Espana||05.10. – 08.10.2017|
|Wales Rally GB||26.10. – 29.10.2017|
|Rally Australia||16.11. – 19.11.2017|