WHO NEEDS VW?
Volkswagen’s exit from the World Rally
Championship at the end of 2016
signaled the series’ death knell and...
Oh, wait a minute – no it didn’t. Far
from it, in fact. For not only did the
“Dieselgate”-derived pullout force VW’s
reigning champion Sebastien Ogier to find
a fresh challenge with the WRC underdog
M-Sport Ford team, it also coincided with
a spectacular debut by Toyota and an
uptick in pace by Hyundai.
As awesome as VW’s four-year assault
had been, a genuine three-way fight
between Ford, Hyundai and Toyota seems
the better prospect in the WRC’s continuing
struggles to attract TV and online eyeballs.
Of course, that’s not to say that one of
the manufacturers will find a consistent
advantage as the series gets dialed into its
new breed of more powerful, faster cars.
But a win for Ogier’s Ford Fiesta WRC on
the season-opening Monte Carlo Rally,
followed by Jari-Matti Latvala’s shock, yet
deserving win with the new Yaris WRC in
Sweden, and the pace of Thierry Neuville’s
Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC on both events
bodes well for a less predictable 2017.
The only niggling downside? We’ll never
know just how good the 2017 VW Polo
WRC would have been. Oh well...
Stories over the
preps for Toyota’s
WRC return weren’t
going so well. But
second place for the
Tommi Makinen-built Yaris WRC on
its Monte Carlo
Rally debut, followed
by a win in Sweden
(ABOVE) nixed that.
The roof didn’t collapse in on the WRC when Volkswagen plugged the plug. Instead, it’s been rejuvenated.
FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP 2017
Title favorite because...it’s
Ogier. Can M-Sport keep
the momentum up?
Crazy quick, but needs to
keep his Hyundai on the
road. If so, it’s game on.
After a rough couple years,
the Finn is resurgent in
the surprising Toyota.
THE ONLY DOWNER? CITROEN’S FORM ON ITS RETURN TO
A FULL-SEASON ATTACK. LET’S HOPE FOR A QUICK FIX.
OGIER’S M-SPORT BOOSTER
M-Sport’s signing of Sebastien Ogier was a
major coup. After his Monte Carlo Rally win,
rumors grew that Ford may up its backing.
THREE TO WATCH…