Volkswagen To Leave World Rally Championship
The motor racing world is still reeling from Audi’s decision to leave endurance racing at the conclusion of the 2016 season and now, it appears that the bad breaks aren’t over yet. Volkswagen has also announced plans to exit the World Rally Championship after the 2016 season.
The revelation is no less shocking than Audi’s departure from endurance racing, including Le Mans, because of Volkswagen’s outright dominance in the WRC ever since it entered the rally series in 2013. In fact, since it’s arrival, Volkswagen has yet to lose a driver’s or manufacturer’s title, having won both championships for four consecutive years.
But apparently, even outright dominance in the WRC is no match from the debilitating fallout of the diesel emissions scandal, which the German automaker admitted as being one of the primary reasons behind its exit from the WRC. The departure is even more upsetting when you consider that Volkswagen won’t get to line up in the same grid as Toyota, which announced its return to the world’s premier rally series in 2017.
The good news is that Volkswagen’s involvements in the WRC and rally racing altogether aren’t going to be shut down completely. The company still plans to develop new rally cars, including the new Polo rally race that’s being developed to R5 specifications. But instead of having an actual team like it has done during its short-lived, four-year dominance, the German automaker will develop these rally cars for customer teams. In addition, the company said that its involvement in the Global Rallycross program will remain intact with the possibility of the program even expanding past its current capacity.
So that’s the good news here. The bad news is that we won’t get to see Volkswagen compete in the WRC as its own team anymore, leaving behind the possibilities of what a Volkswagen-Toyota rally battle could have become.
Continue after the jump to read the full story.
The partnership between car and driver is something that sticks in our mind for life, and a prime example of such a partnership is Colin McRae and the Subaru World Rally Team. McRae may be gone, leaving this existence far too early, but his spirit will forever live on in WRC. But, there’s another way his spirit lives on, and you could own a piece of McRae’s amazing WRC history with the Subaru Impreza that you see here.
This car is a 1997 Subaru WRC Impreza that was driven by none other than Calin McRae during the 1997 FIA World Rally Championship. It’s currently in stock in Mohr Klassik’s showroom in Boblingen, Germany with a price tag of €280,000. That translates to about $313,000 at exchange rates as of September 2016. This car saw four World Cup race heats in 1998, then from 1999 to 2008, the car saw use in several World and European Championship rallies under private ownership. Its last run was in the Rally Legend in San Marino in 2008, after which it was fully restored to the condition you see here.
After undergoing a full restoration, the car has been in the hands of various collectors ever since, seeing very little time on the road, primarily for short testing. According to Mohr Klassik and the images, the car is in perfect condition and ready for use. For the record, this beauty is powered by a 2.0-liter that delivers some 300 horsepower and nearly as many pound-feet in torque. It weighs right around 2,500 pounds.
Keep reading for the rest of the story
WRC 2016 – Mid-Season Recap
The forty-fourth season of the World Rally Championship kicked off late in January with the historical Rallye Monte-Carlo. February brought Rally Sweden, while Rally Guanajuato Mexico was held early in March. So far, all eyes have been on defending world champion Sebastien Ogier and the Volkswagen Polo R WRC. With three consecutive titles to his name, the 32-year-old Frenchman looks to once again take top honors in 2016. However, that’s easier said then done, even for a driver as talented as Ogier.
Competitors like Mads Ostberg, Kris Meeke, Dani Sordo, and Hayden Paddon are all looking to challenge Ogier’s dominance, while teammates Jari-Matti Latvala and Andreas Mikkelsen present an internal threat with VWs of their own.
If you missed the opening three rounds of the WRC, don’t worry – we’ve got you covered. Just click past the jump for a rundown on how 2016 is shaking out so far.
Continue reading to learn more about the 2016 WRC Season.
Korean automaker Hyundai has evolved dramatically over the past few years, to the extent that it also announced plans to launch a series of high-performance models under its new N division. Although road-going vehicles wearing the N badge have yet to arrive, Hyundai did launch the division with the 2014 hyundai i20 WRC, which marked the brand’s return to rallying after an 11-year hiatus. Having already completed two full WRC seasons in 2014 and 2015, the i20 WRC has been updated for 2016 and showcased at the 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show.
Launched alongside the 2015 Hyundai N 2025 Vision Gran Turismo concept car, the new i20 WRC has been developed at the company’s facility at the Nurburgring circuit in Germany. With the 2016 WRC season set to debut with the Monte Carlo event in January, the Korean brand unveiled the race-ready model at the team’s headquarters in Alzenau.
Hyundai Motorsport will field three cars in every round of the 2016 championship, with Dani Sordo, Hayden Paddon and Thierry Neuville behind the steering wheel. The team will begin its third WRC season with two new i20 WRC cars and one previous model at Rallye Monte Carlo before increasing to three 2016 cars from Rally Sweden.
Hyundai also announced it is already working on a new rally car for the 2017 season. Dubbed R5, it is also based on the second-generation i20 and will be developed with help from Dutch driver Kevin Abbring throughout 2016. Development of the R5 will commence in the first half of the year with homologation to be completed in mid-2016. Privateers will be able to place orders for the new race car in the second half of the year.
Updated 12/10/2015: Hyundai confirmed that it will enter three cars in every round of the 2016 championship. The company also confirmed it is already working on a new rally car for the 2017 season and that it should be completed in mid-2016.
Continue reading to learn more about the 2016 Hyundai i20 WRC.
After three days of asphalt-flavored action through vineyards, military tracks and flowing country roads, Sebastien Ogier took the win in Germany over the weekend, positioning him ever closer to clinching his third consecutive World Rally Championship title. Fellow Volkswagen teammates Jari-Matti Latvala and Andreas Mikkelsen joined him on the podium, making for a clean 1-2-3 all-Polo R VW sweep at the make’s home event. Latvala finished 23 seconds behind Ogier, while Mikkelsen trailed by an additional 94 seconds.
Germany marked Ogier’s sixth win for the 2015 season and his 30th career victory, placing him alongside Marcus Gronholm in second for most all-time wins (Sebastien Loeb still holds the outright record at an astonishing 78 wins). In order to secure his third driver’s championship, all that’s left for Ogier to do is finish ahead of Latvala at next month’s Rally Australia.
However, Ogier said the focus in Germany was not on the driver’s championship, but rather on bringing a win to VW at its home event, something the make has failed to do since it re-entered the WRC in 2013.
“It was a perfect rally and that was the target, to try to finally give a victory here to my team and I’m proud to achieve that,” Ogier said. “The third title is getting really close so that’s fantastic, but this weekend the interests of the team were bigger than mine.”
The WRC next heads down under for Rally Australia, September 10th – 13th.
Continue reading for the full story.
The “Finnish Grand Prix” is always good for exciting sideways gravel action, and this year, the big crests and even bigger speeds once again favored a local for the coveted top spot. Volkswagen’s Jari-Matti Latvala claimed his 14th career victory on Sunday, marking his second win for the 2015 season and his third win at his home event. Latvala also set a new record for fastest event in WRC history, posting an average velocity of 125.44 kph (77.94 mph), besting the previous record of 122.89 kph (76.36 mph) set by Sebastien Loeb at the same event in 2012.
Trailing Latvala in second place was fellow Volkswagen driver and defending world champion Sebastien Ogier, who finished the weekend 13.7 seconds down on the Finn.
It was a slugfest between Latvala and Ogier for the majority of the weekend. Ogier was first out front with stage wins Thursday night and Friday morning, which placed him five seconds ahead of the Finn. However, Latvala fought back Friday afternoon, eventually eclipsing the Frenchman on SS8.
Saturday morning saw the two trade stage wins back and forth, with the gap between the frontrunners fluctuating by just a few seconds. But by the afternoon, Latvala had begun to pull ahead. Ogier finally settled behind Latvala on SS16, fearing a puncture after clipping a rock.
“This was one of the greatest drives of my life,” Latvala said at the end of the final stage, celebrating the win with his father. “I’m proud to be a Finn today. I’ve had a tough season but winning my home event is like winning half a world championship.”
While a disappointing finish at Rally Poland last month dashed Latvala’s hopes for a title, he devoted his attention to a strong showing in Finland, and clearly, the work paid off.
Meanwhile, Ogier seemed satisfied with second, saying, “An amazing battle and an amazing weekend – it has been a fantastic rally, I really loved it. Jari-Matti was so strong – well done to him. I have no problem to be beaten by such a Jari-Matti.”
Continue reading for the full story.
Cars competing in the 2017 World Rally Championship will be wider, lighter and more powerful, and have an all-around more aggressive appearance than the current cars. Sounds pretty good to us. While some specifics are still being hammered out between the FIA’s technical department and WRC manufacturers, the FIA World Motor Sports council made the decision to move forward with the new regulations on Friday in Mexico.
According to Autosport, the new regulations will allow the cars to produce 380 horsepower, up from the current 300 horsepower, thanks in part to a larger turbo restrictor, up from 34 mm to 36 mm. Boost pressure, meanwhile, will be limited to 2.5 bar. Other changes to the drivetrain will include the reintroduction of electronically controlled center differentials.
The increase in horsepower also comes with a sizable reduction in weight. The current cars have a minimum weight of 1,200 kg (a little over 2,654 pounds), but at 1,175 kg (about 2,590 pounds) the new ones will be 25 kg lighter.
On the outside, the new cars will be wider (from a current maximum of 1,820 mm to 1,875 mm), with more freedom for aerodynamic enhancements around the production-car body shell. Expect to see new aero devices on the front bumpers, including larger front splitters and dive planes, and larger rear wings. The wider fenders will also be allowed to have holes to reduce pressure within the wheel wells.
“There were three main objectives with these regulations; make the car spectacular, be mindful of costs, and maintain, if not increase safety,” said FIA Technical Director Bernard Niclot in a WRC press release. “The cars will be striking, there is no doubt about that, and there are small but always significant improvements in relation to safety.
Continue reading for the full story.
The seventh round of the 2015 WRC season played out over the weekend, with the world’s best rally drivers heading to Poland to take on nearly 200 high-speed miles of dirt and gravel. Conditions were sunny and hot, with the thermometer topping out at over 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Lining the roadway was tall grass that not only hampered visibility, but also masked rocks and other hazards, making corner-cutting a dicey proposition.
Rally Poland is one of the oldest rallies on the calendar, first seeing competition in 1921 and playing a part in the inaugural 1973 WRC season. Roughly 90 percent of the route was new this year, but that didn’t stop Sebastien Ogier from clinching a back-to-back win, his fifth victory of 2015.
The defending world champion led the rally after the first stage Thursday night, but dropped back to third in Friday’s early stages. However, Ogier managed to retake the lead Friday afternoon and held off teammate Andreas Mikkelsen throughout the weekend, ending the rally almost 12 seconds ahead. Breaking up the VW podium was Ford’s Ott Tanak, who managed to match his career-best finish in third place, sliding ahead of VW’s Jari Matti Latvala after the Finn crashed out towards the end of the rally.
Ogier took home three bonus points with a win in the final Power Stage, while Tanak secured two and Mikkelsen got one.
Continue reading for the full story.
Defending world champion Sebastien Ogier has secured his fourth victory of the 2015 WRC season, finishing this past weekend’s dusty four-day event more than three minutes ahead of the second place finisher, New Zealander Hayden Paddon. In third was Belgian driver Thierry Neuville, who completed the event almost four-and-a-half minutes behind the Frenchman.
Despite seeing a comfortable lead by the end of Sunday’s stages, Paddon gave the world champion a solid two-day fight, leading the rally outright in his 2014 Hyundai i20 for 15 stages. However, Ogier managed to overcome his appointed gravel-sweeping duties, eventually overtaking Paddon when the Kiwi had a spin that resulted in damage to his gearbox.
However, Paddon’s second place finish was undoubtedly the story of the rally, as the weekend saw him become the first New Zealander to lead a WRC event outside his home country. What’s more, the result is Paddon’s best career finish, with 2015 being his first full season at the top echelon of rally racing.
Further back, Neuville managed to claw his way onto the podium Sunday morning when Citroen-driver Mads Ostberg had an off that damaged the brakes on his 2013 Citroen DS 3. Ostberg eventually settled for fifth behind Ford’s Elfyn Evans, while Jari-Matti Latvala came sixth in his 2015 Volkswagen Polo R, just 16.6 seconds shy of Ostberg. You can check out the rally’s highlights on the WRC official YouTube channel here.
Ogier currently leads the championship by 66 points over Ostberg, while Norway’s Andreas Mikkelsen sits three points down from Ostberg in third. Latvala and Evans complete the top five positions. In the manufacturer’s chase, Volkswagen leads with 179 points, Citroen is in second with 115 points, and Hyundai is in third with 113 points.
Seven of 13 rounds remain in the 2015 WRC season. Up next, the championship heads to the fast, grass-lined gravel roads of Rally Poland, July 2nd through 5th.
Continue reading for the full story.
Volkswagen enjoyed another dominating run in the latest round of the 2015 WRC season, taking every position on the podium in Portugal. Standing at top honors was Jari-Matti Latvala, who managed to stave off a hard charge from defending world champion Sebastien Ogier, ending the weekend only 8.2 seconds ahead of his teammate. At third was Andreas Mikkelsen, who finished 20.4 seconds behind the rally leader.
Latvala managed to capitalize on his back marker starting position by shooting to the top position Friday afternoon, taking full advantage of the cleaner road conditions offered by the swept gravel stages. It was the 13th career victory for the 30-year-old driver, who had not seen a win since October of 2014.
“After the last three rallies some people were doubting if I would come back,” Latvala told WRC.com. “It was one of the worst situations in my rally career so to come and win here is unique. I really appreciate this victory feeling.”
With a fresh infusion of points, Latvala climbs from ninth to fifth in the driver’s championship. Meanwhile, Ogier increased his championship lead to a 42-point margin.
Northern Irishman Kris Meeke, who clinched victory in the previous round at Argentina, was the only challenger to VW’s dominance, becoming embroiled in a fight with Mikkelsen for third. Unfortunately for Meeke, a broken anti-roll bar on his Citroen DS3 allowed Mikkelsen to slip by, knocking him back to fourth place.
Meanwhile, Ott Tanak came in fifth in his Ford Fiesta RS, besting Dani Sordo in his Hyundai i20.
Next, the WRC heads to Italy for more gravel at the Rally Italia Sardegna June 11th through 14th.
Continue reading for the full story.
So there you are, deep in the woods of some European country, huddled around a crackling fire, cradling a warm beverage to stave off the frostbite in your fingertips. Spots of ice keep you from wandering too far, as does the cheery atmosphere of the locals. Murmurs of several different dialects mix with the floating wood smoke, while a collection of colorful flags flit among the branches.
Then you hear it – the rising crescendo of an un-muffled turbo four-cylinder at full song, popping through the gears with shocking alacrity, each upshift accompanied by a heady tailpipe explosion. The crowd around you is hushed, and all attention turns to a narrow dirt road slithering its way through the trees.
The sound builds, until finally, it bursts over the crest – a brightly stickered race car takes flight, giving you a clear view of the battered skid plate underneath. The suspension droops like landing gear as the winged hatchback sails past you, and for a brief moment, you see two helmets brace for impact in the cockpit. Momentum carries the car well over a hundred feet until it reconnects with the ground, and you watch as the rear squirms under braking before disappearing around the following bend in a sideways spray of frozen mud, covering nearby trees and spectators alike. The exhaust note fades, replaced by the cheers of all around you.
This is rally racing. It’s a contest characterized by ruthless conditions, unyielding machinery, outrageous talent, and gut-wrenching crashes. In this article, we’ll delve into some of the finer points of what makes this one of the most exciting sports in the world.
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With the frozen drama of last month’s ice and snow-covered Rally Sweden in the history books, the WRC headed to the high, dusty trails of Mexico for the first gravel rally of 2015.
Featuring sharp rocks, loose dirt and obstacle-lined roads, Mexico would present significant challenges to this year’s competitors, with more than a few learning first-hand just how punishing it can be.
Rally Guanajuato Mexico is the most elevated round of the year, never dipping below 5,910 feet above sea level, with a maximum altitude of 8,860 feet. This put a huge strain on the turbocharged engines, with power outputs dropping by as much as 30 percent in the thin air.
Going into this third round of the season, Volkswagen’s Sebastien Ogier led the driver’s championship with 53 points, followed by Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville in second with 30 points. Two additional VWs followed, with Andreas Mikkelsen also carrying 30 points and Jari-Matti Latvala in fourth with 19 points. Citroen’s Mads Ostberg held fifth with 14 points.
Click Continue Reading for more from 2015 Rally Guanajuato Mexico.
The first race of the 2015 WRC season ended in overwhelming victory for the Volkswagen team, particularly for the defending world champion Sebastien Ogier. VW controlled every position on the podium last month, while Citroen’s Mads Ostberg managed to clinch fourth. Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville squeaked by his teammate Dani Sordo for a fifth-place finish.
The frigid woods of Sweden formed the backdrop for round two, with tall snow banks, icy surfaces, long power slides between the trees, breathtaking jumps, and authentic Scandinavian flicks. Thanks to studded rubber, thicker ice equates to more bite, making Rally Sweden one of the fastest events of the year. Incredibly, grip levels with this tire/surface combination approach those of slicks on clean tarmac.
In the 62-event history of Rally Sweden, only two non-Scandinavians have managed to secure the top spot. Sebastien Loeb is one of those individuals, winning in 2004, while Sebastien Ogier is the second, with a victory in 2013.
Click past the jump to read more about the 2015 Rally Sweden.
The importance of Volkswagen’s Polo R WRC racer cannot be overstated. Designed specifically for the new rules that went into effect for the 2013 season, the Polo R dominated the World Rally Championship, knocking Citroen from the top of the podium for the first time in nearly a decade.
That last fact is what needs to resonate the most. The Polo R WRC ended a nine-year domination of the sport. When you have one man, or one team that is unstoppable in any form of competition, it ceases to become a competition. When you know who will win, it isn’t very much fun to watch, unless you happen to be a fan of the winner.
Volkswagen can’t afford to rest on its laurels though. The 2014 season represents a whole new competition, and Citroen is no doubt making plans to take back the title of World Champion.
As such, Volkswagen has announced its car for the 2014 WRC season, and it has been kind enough to share a few of the important changes it has made. Apart from the obvious visual changes on the new rally car, Volkswagen has spent much of its time perfecting engine components and improving the overall stability of the car through ECU flashes and the alteration of chassis components. Other than the 315-horsepower four-pot under the hood, Volkswagen didn’t dive too far into the details of what’s changed under the skin, as it is hoping to surprise its rivals once again this year.
The first race of the season, Rallye Monte Carlo, is taking place this week and Volkswagen is off to a promising start as they secured the fastest time in the testing stage. That said, Citroen was only 1.2 seconds off pace, and only 3.5 seconds separate first and seventh, so the racing should be close.
Ladies and Gentleman, Volkswagen has brought the excitement back to the World Rally Championship.
Click past the jump to read more on the WRC.
Despite all the focus on the Detroit International Auto Show this week, Motorsports around the world are still continuing. Starting tomorrow, January 14th, the World Rally Championship kicks off in Monte Carlo with the opening ceremonies. Drivers and navigators commence their “shakedown” runs of the course the following day, while the race officially begins on Thursday the 16th and continues to Sunday the 19th.
WRC is one of the most intense motorsports with wildly varying terrain ranging from gravel, mud, and snow to smooth pavement. Massive jumps and wrecks make watching WRC an edge-of-your-seat experience while the competition between drivers and sponsors keeps the excitement stirred.
The infographic after the jump lays out some interesting facts about the upcoming race and how the entire event is organized. Trekking between Monte Carlo and France, the race has different stages and sections – all designed to challenge both man and machine as they race against the clock.
Click past the jump for the full infographic
It may have taken longer than a lot of people would have liked, but that’s the price you pay if you’re a company that’s looking to break ground in a racing series it hasn’t entered since 2003..
After a year of testing and development, Hyundai has finally pulled the covers off of the i20 World Rally Championship racecar. And if we do say so ourselves, it looks positively glorious.
The unveiling happened at a recent event in Frankfurt when the Hyundai Shell World Rally Team officially announced that it had finally wrapped up the project in time for next season’s WRC season. Lead driver, Thierry Neuville, was given the honor of presenting the car with teammate Juho Hänninen serving as the driver of the second vehicle.
Earlier this year, Hyundai presented an updated version of the racecar at the Geneva Motor Show yet it was clear that the show car at the event was still a long ways away from being completed. This one, though, is the final product, and it comes complete with all the cursory aerodynamic modifications set to rally specifications, not to mention a cavalcade of graphics and liveries that show all of the team’s partners for next year’s WRC season.
Updates to the chassis and suspension were of importance for the team, seeing as it will be tackling a racing series that will feature its share of bumpy roads. There’s also a new rear wing, a front spoiler, and an interior that’s been redesigned specifically for rally purposes.
Based on our estimates, the 2014 Hyundai i20 WRC racecar is likely to receive a 1.6-liter, in-line-four engine that produces close to 300 horsepower, which should be good enough to hit 60 mph in five to six seconds to go with a top speed of about 160 mph.
Click past the jump to read about the previous incarnation of the Hyundai i20 WRC, the one that we saw at Geneva last March
Setting a world record is no small feat, especially when you’re doing it in less-than-ideal circumstances.
That’s why WRC racer, Mads Ostberg, deserves a raucous round of applause after setting a new world-record for the longest ever jump on snow by a rally car. Driving a Ford Fiesta WRC, Ostberg managed to fly his little race car over 60 meters (196.85 feet) in Trysil, Norway.
The World Rally Championship corroborated the record, posting Ostberg’s record-setting jump on its official Twitter account.
While the record is in itself an impressive accomplishment, it still fell way short of the overall jump record of 82 meters (269 feet) that Travis Pastrana accomplished a few years back when he jumped into a barge in the middle of the sea back on New Year’s Eve 2010.
Still, Ostberg’s attempt is impressive in its own right, considering the circumstances he had to deal with in order to set the record. Like we said, give the man his due props.
Check out Pastrana’s record jump after the, well, jump
When Volkswagen said that it was entering the World Rally Championship in time for the 2013 season, it stamped the announcement by revealing the Polo R WRC Concept, the prototype model of what would eventually become VW’s production series race car.
Over the weekend at Monaco, Volkswagen finally pulled the covers off of the latter, giving further indication that it’s ready to take the WRC by storm next year.
Judging by the overall look of the car, the high-performance sports hatch appears to have retained most of the design and performance characteristics of the concept. The rally-inspired lower front spoiler with large air inlets are still there, as is the spoiler on the rear edge of the roof and the rear diffuser. Some new additions on the body are purely aesthetic, including the “WRC” badging on the rear and the “R” logos on the front and rear.
The race version of the Polo R WRC also receives a set of 18-inch alloy wheels wrapped in 215/35R18 tires. Helping bring it to a halt are 16-inch disc brakes. Inside, the rally car comes equipped with a race-spec interior, highlighted by a black roof liner, race-style pedals, an Alcantara steering wheel, and the typical insanely long rally transmission stick.
Overall, the car only weighs 1,200 kg (2,645 pounds), which Volkswagen accomplished by using carbon and Kevlar on the doors, tailgate and wheel arch extensions. The svelte weight even accounts for the wider frame of 1,820 mm (71.65 inches), which is around 138 mm (5.43 inches) wider than the production model.
In terms of performance, the Polo R WRC Edition is powered by a 1.6-liter turbocharged TSI four-cylinder engine that has been limited to only produce 315 horsepower. This engine mates to a six-speed sequential transmission with a 0-to-100 km/h (62 mph) time of just 3.9 seconds.
The Polo R WRC Rally Car will make its long-awaited debut at the Monte Carlo rally this coming January with Sebastien Ogier and Jari-Matti Latvala taking the helm. The event should be a good barometer for the company and the team to gauge how ready the car is when it makes its WRC debut later that year.
Pending the final release of the 2012 WRC standings, the Citroën DS3 WRC is a two-time World Rally Championship champion, which just solidifies the fact that it knows a thing or two about racing. On the heels of this championship, Citroën is set to debut yet another racecar, but this time around, it is for private owners only.
This new model, dubbed the Citroën DS3 RRC, is designed to run at rally levels just below the WRC, like the European Rally Championship (ERC), WRC-2, Middle East Rally Championship (MERC) or other national championships. Citroën was very careful in its homologation of this model to make 100 percent certain it wasn’t stepping on its own tailpipe.
So can this baby-brother version of the championship-winning Citroën DS3 WRC be held up to the same relative standard as its big brother?
Click past the jump to read all about the Citroën DS3 RRC and find out.
Just days ago we let you know that Mini pretty much used FIA homologation rules to its advantage by finishing up the 2012 season and calling it quits, now another manufacturer is following suit. There have been rumors floating around since 2011 that Ford Europe was going to pull out of the World Rally Championship and that will become a reality following the 2012 season, as Ford Europe announced that it will pull its sponsorship following the 2012 season.
Unlike Mini, Ford has been a long-running sponsor, lasting 16 seasons. With that long of a history, it is more obvious that Ford’s pull out is mostly due to the crumbling automotive market in Europe. Despite pulling its sponsorship, Ford will provide M-Sport, its WRC partner since 1997, with the Fiesta R5 rally car, along with engineering and vehicle support following its departure. In addition, Ford Europe will still offer the Fiesta R2 rally car for grass-roots national and regional driver programs.
It looks like we are in for a drastically changed lineup for the 2013 WRC season, and we’re not even through the 2012 season yet. Hopefully no more manufacturers pull out this year.
Click past the jump to read Ford’s official press release.
The Mini Portugal team, along with its WRC partner, Prodrive, actually started off pretty well in the 2012 WRC season, but things turned sour for the MINI rally team following its breakup with said partner. Following the March split, Mini never reached the podium again. Though the 2012 season is not quite finished, Mini has announced that it will withdraw from the World Rally Championship following this season.
In all honesty this really comes as no surprise, as Mini is thought to have only raced as a factory sponsored brand this year to get WRC homologation. Why is that so important? Well, this means that Mini now can sell its rally cars to private racing companies, make profit, and have zero racing overhead. This was all backed up by Dr. Kay Segler’s statement “By the end of the season WRC Team Mini Portugal will have competed in every rally in 2012. As such, in accordance with FIA regulations, we will have achieved the WRC homologation for the Mini John Cooper Works.” Well, don’t make it too obvious that you played the system, fine Doctor…
In all honesty, this is just one of the necessary evils of the racing world, as car manufacturers simply want all of the free advertising at these events without any of the corporate responsibilities. So in all honesty, we can’t fault Mini for its obvious using the rather loose WRC homologation rules.
With the Mini John Cooper Works WRC car pumping a wild 300 horsepower and 400 Nm (295 pound-feet) of torque from its little 1.6-liter Bimmer engine, we doubt that MINI will have any issues selling it to private teams. Since 2011, the rally Mini Portugal team made it to the podium three times and had its biggest success in the January 2012 running of the Monte Carlo Rally when it finished 2nd.
We’ll keep an eye out to see if any private teams select Mini as its WRC car.
Click past the jump to read Mini’s presser.