Reports are coming out that the reinvigorated Swedish brand, Saab , is also set to make its return to the most prestigious rally racing series in the world, which, if everything pushes through, could happen in the 2012 season.
Saab has been absent from the rally scene since 1979 and the brand’s return to the WRC could be in-line to the recent revival the automaker is enjoying under its new ownership.
Details are still sketchy at best, but there appears to be mutual interest from both Spyker - that’s Saab’s new owner, if you’ve been living under a rock for the past few months – and officials from the WRC for Saab to make its rally comeback. Given the brand’s rich history in rally racing, we’re going to be surprised if their return to the WRC doesn’t happen.
In the event that Saab does come back to rallying, it is expected that the brand will be fielding a modified 1.6-liter turbocharged Saab 9-2, which, interestingly, will also be the same platform that the MINI Countryman will be using when it makes its own return to the world of rally racing.
Mini is an interesting little car brand. The car is fantastic, but the following the vehicle has is far more impressive than the vehicle itself. Owners of Minis practically have their own club even traveling the length of the U.S. together for charity. Mini owners are proud of their bitesize vehicles and now they can add another tally to the Mini side.
The 2011 World Rally Championship will receive another participant this year and for many years to come as the Mini Countryman WRC takes its place among the other racers. Mini will not participate in all of the races in 2011, but come 2012, they will take in every race offered by the WRC.
Having been worked on since early 2009 by ProDrive, the Countryman WRC complies with the FIA’s Super2000 regulations and will feature a 1.6L four cylinder turbo charged engine from BMW Motorsport. Its first test will occur in Fall 2010.
So what if Porsche beat them in their own competition; MINI’s not exactly the type of brand that just lays down to anybody. Now, they’re looking at embarking on their next challenge, and this one’s an absolute doozy.
According to a report by Autosport, MINI, together with Prodrive, will be announcing a World Rally Championship program. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to translate that: MINI is headed to the WRC!
Details are limited and still pending an announcement, which is expected to be done this week, but word from Autosport has it that MINI’s first WRC offering will be based on the new Countryman and has already been in the pipeline for quite some time now at Prodrive’s Banbury headquarters. The MINI WRC Countryman will also undergo its first testing pretty soon and, according to David Lapworth, Prodrive’s technical director, “When we start testing on our rally car development program, it will be intensive. We still have a good timescale to work towards for testing and we’re happy with where we’re at.”
MINI ’s WRC debut will most likely happen at the middle of the 2011 season where it is expected to miss the fist four races and will be launched sometime in May, possibly ahead of the Rally Italy.
Kimi Raikkonen and Ken Block may be rookies in the world of the WRC, but they certainly brought their reputations as two of the best race car drivers in the world when they made the jump to the World Rally Championship.
Block, a former Rally America Rookie of the Year and Raikkonen, a former Formula One champion, took part in a Super Special Stage during the kick-off event leading up to the 2010 WRC Rally Portugal. As part of the event, both Block and Raikkonen competed against each other on-board Block’s Ford Fiesta and Raikkonen’s Citroen C4 .
While it was nothing more than an exhibition for the fans, the race had some ramifications for both Block and Raikkonen after the two agreed to a 100 euro bet. Needless to say, that was all it took for both drivers to push their rally chariots to the limit and, after a race that featured a steady diet of lead changes, it all came down to an exciting photo finish with both drivers posting the same exact time of 2:11.00!
Check out the video after the jump for the dramatic race.
After two decades of participation and six WRC titles, Subaru pulled itself from the World Rally Championship at the end of its 2008 season. Subaru fans everywhere could not imagine the WRC without their beloved Subaru and held on to the hopes that the brand would reconsider. Now, after only about a year and a half, Subaru lovers everywhere can rejoice in the comeback of the brand. Subaru announced today that theImpreza WRX STI Spec C gained the official Group N Homologation certificate from FIA and will compete in the Rallye Deutschland of Production World Rally Championship from August 22nd, 2010. The homologation certificate is a requirement to compete in any FIA-approved racing and rallying championship.
The WRX STI spec C features enhanced engine and chassis performance as well as a lighter body on the premise of driving in motor sports. The ECU is upgraded right from the factory so the new ball bearing turbocharged DOHC 16 valve flat four EJ20 engine now delivers 308 HP and 311 lb-ft of torque. The Spec C comes complete with an aluminum hood, smaller battery, lighter windows, and some new 18 inch alloy wheels.
After nine seasons in Formula 1, Kimi Raikkonen will now take part in the 2010 World Racing Championship for the Citroën Junior Team. Raikkonen’s departure from Formula 1 was a shock to some due to the contract he had with Ferrari for the 2010 season. Many rumors flew around in regards to where Raikkonen was headed, but none seemed to pan out as McLaren , Mercedes , and Toyota all signed other drivers.
Red Bull Racing team boss, Christian Horner has downplayed rumors that Raikkonen will be riding with them in 2011, but for now he is racing in the WRC. The World Racing Championship consists of 13 three-day events driven on surfaces ranging from gravel and tarmac to snow and ice. Here’s how Kimi Raikkonen overcame this special stage and obtained his first points in the 2010 WRC Jordan Rally. Enjoy!
We love our rally car racing here at TopSpeed, and anytime we get an opportunity to show you what it’s like to be out on the dirt, we don’t waste time doing it.
By now, you’ve probably heard about Ken Block’s less-than-stellar showing at the Rally Mexico, which incidentally is the first-ever World Rally Championship race for Block and navigator Alex Gelsomino. While we’re going to attribute Block’s 18th place finish to a little case of ‘getting their feet wet’ in the art of WRC racing, we’re expecting the dynamic duo to have a better showing at the next race in Jordan on April 1-3.
In any event, we have here a WRC-exclusive of Block and Gelsomino romping off the dirt roads of Mexico during the recently-concluded Rally Mexico. It’s a ten-minute piece so sit back, relax, and enjoy the bumpy ride…err…clip.
Ken Block’s 2010 World Rally Championship season at the Rally Mexico got off to an impressive start – that is until, it ended sooner than he and co-pilot Alex Gelsomino would have liked.
Block and Gelsomino ended up crashing out of the race when he shot wide on one of the gravel corners forcing his Rally Ford Fiesta into getting beached at a slightly awkward tilted position. It was a disappointing end to an otherwise impressive race, one where Block was consistently in the top 10 and moving in and out of the top 5 until his slight miscalculation.
Afterwards, Block admitted that the crash was his fault, attributing to a rookie mistake of slightly miscalculating the braking into the tight corner and realizing his blunder just a tad too late. While we’re a little disappointed too, we’re going to give Block a little benefit of the doubt and hope that he puts this ‘rookie mistake’ to good use and doesn’t do it again.
Check out the video and watch how Ken Block’s Rally Mexico race ended prematurely.
Although the Japanese automaker Subaru pulled out of their factory backed World Rally Championship efforts, the company that built those iconic blue WRC competitors , Prodrive, are still working hard on new versions of the purpose built rally car for privateer racers. Prodrive has just released details about the 2010 Group N Subaru Impreza that will compete in 2010, priced at just under $200,000 the Prodrive Subaru Impreza N2010 WRC is sure to deliver for those willing to take the risk on the stages of the World Rally Championship.
The Impreza N2010 utilizes a new larger 33 mm air restrictor connected to the turbocharged. The new piece was introduced by the FIA in order to help balance the performance between the Group N and unrestricted Super2000 rally cars. Simply by increasing the size of the opening by only one millimeter, fitting a set of high flow fuel injectors and recalibrating the ECU to make everything work harmoniously gives the Scooby a 20 HP bump while beefing up the torque curve and increasing throttle response throughout the entire RPM band while the new Ohlins suspension ensures that the all wheel drive rally car stays on course until the end of the stage.
If reports are accurate, when the driver’s line-up for the 2010 Formula One season is completed, one household name will not be included in it. After spending nine years in Formula One, Kimi Raikkonen will seek a different challenge next year in the form of the World Rally Championship. The news was first reported by MTV3, a Finnish broadcaster who has ties to Raikkonen.
Raikkonen’s interest in driving rally cars has been well-documented and the former F1 champ has even got a few rally races under his belt. After cutting ties with Ferrari, speculation surrounding Raikkonen’s future made headlines in and around the industry. There were reports linking him to Mercedes GP, taking up rallying instead, and even going on a year-long sabbatical.
Whatever the case may be – and whatever Raikkonen’s decision is – watching an F1 race without the Iceman is going to take some getting used to. Then again, if he does enter the world of the WRC and trades in his Ferrari F60 for a Ctiroen C4 – the car he is rumoured to be driving - then that’s something a lot of us will be looking forward to watching.