World Rally Championship 2017 – Take a closer look

The 2017 WRC

Get to know the WRC. The new rules, cars who is competing and the calendar.

What is it?

The 2017 World Rally Championship (WRC) marks the 45th running of the series. Governed by the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), it is the pinnacle of international rally.

Teams comprised of; drivers, co-drivers and service crews race the clock across sections of closed roads known as special stages. Rally is regarded as one of the most challenging motorsports due to the unique terrain and conditions that the drivers and cars must tackle.

Rally teams often compete on gravel, ice, snow, mud, tarmac and dust. It’s pretty normal to find combinations of several of these on the same event. The drivers compete with only the co-driver calling pace notes to get them through the special stage.

Where a racing driver may see the same corners a thousand times, a rally driver may see a thousand corners only once. It means getting it right every time on every corner without practicing first. It’s no wonder rally drivers are regarded as some of the best in the world.

What’s new for 2017?


Some of the new rules go toward recreating the Group B era of the mid 80’s. A time when rally teams raced weapons with almost limitless power. Group B cars, such as the Audi Quattro S1 and Peugeot 205 T16, were more powerful and faster than F1 cars of their day. They sported huge wings and monstrous power.

To recreate some of the golden era, the 2017 cars are allowed more freedom in their design. Engine power has increased from 300to 380hp. Weight has dropped 25kg to 1,175kg and cars are 55mm wider for larger aerodynamics, wings and wheel arches.

The new world rally cars are louder, bolder and ultimately faster than their older siblings.

Works Teams

This year two successful rally teams have returned.  Toyota are contesting the WRC for the first time since 1999. Citroen are also back full time after a break during 2016 to develop the new car. On the flip side of the coin, reigning champions Volkswagen pulled out at the end of last year.

Which teams are competing?

Ford are back (via M-Sport), run by former works driver Malcolm Wilson. Ford’s new weapon is the all-new 2017 Fiesta WRC which was extensively tested.

Hyundai have also lined up with the new 2017 i20 WRC.  Citroen’s new C3 WRC is out on the stages after plenty of development too. Toyota Gazoo, led by former WRC champion Tommi Makinen, have their new 2017 Yaris WRC.

Behind the works outfits, is a score of private teams. M-Sport for example have some customer teams such as the Adapter and DMACK World Rally Teams. Plenty of ex-works World Rally Cars will also be in the mix with Group N and 2wd machinery owned by privateers in each country.

What are the dates?

The first round in the calendar is the Rally Monte-Carlo, running from the 19th to the the 22nd of January. The championship will then travel through another 11 locations around the globe before wrapping up in Australia in mid November.

  1. Monte Carlo Rally – 19th – 22nd Jan
  2. Rally Sweden – 9th – 12 Feb
  3. Rally Mexico – 9th – 12th March
  4. Tour de Corse – 6th – 9th April
  5. Rally Argentina – 27th – 30th April
  6. Vodafone Rally Portugal – 18th – 21st May
  7. Catalunya Rally Italy – 8th – 11th June
  8. PZM Rally Poland – 29th June – 2nd July
  9. Neste Rally Finland – 27th – 30th July
  10. ADAC Rally Deutschland – 17th – 20th August
  11. Rally Catalunya – 5th – 8th October
  12. Dayinsure Rally Great Britain – 26th – 29th October
  13. Kennards Hire Rally Australia – 16th – 19th November

How do I watch it?

The WRC increased its reach last year, however little reached our shores. With limited coverage on  Free to Air TV in Australia, Foxtel is the best bet.

Forgetting TV and going digital, Red Bull TV is a great way to keep up to date. They broadcast the action live on Saturdays of the events. Highlights are also broadcast on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Red Bull TV is free to watch and can be streamed online or you can download a free app.

Following the WRC on a device is great when it’s thousands of km away.  Anyone who’s been to a rally will tell you that the only way to experience it is to actually go to one of the events. Seeing the cars blasting by sideways just metres away, flames spitting out the exhaust is just awesome!

If you want to got to one of the European events like the legendary Rally Finland, you can either travel yourself or, alternatively book through sites like For the Australian round, do an awesome tour (I was a tour guide for it once in Perth – Ed).

Predictions for who’s going to win?

This is a toughie. The top cars are new and so are the rules. Until a few events have been run, it will be hard to see how the cars compare to each other. The new team line up will also alter the dynamic too.

Winning driver reckon that 2017 will be the year for Irishman Kris Meeke. He and Citroen took a year out last year to develop the C3 WRC. It’s Meeke who’s had the most seat time in the new beast.  “He also set some stunning times last year and we’d say he will be in with a serious chance of taking the 2017 drivers’ title.”

Winning Manufacturer

Malcolm Wilson’s M-Sport however is hungry for success and also have WRC titles under their belt. They also staged a coup by hiring Sebastien Ogier, who has won the championship for the past four years. It may take some time for Ogier to get used to the new car and team though.  “Given the talent of both Ogier and his two fellow drivers, we reckon that it could be M-Sport which takes the manufacturers’ title.”

Rallying at times can be a savage beast. Sometimes despite the machinery, talent and budgets things don’t go  to plan. On many occasions defeat has been snatched from the jaws of victory. Sometimes the hard to quantify element of luck is the biggest factor. With the Monte already underway, time will tell…

Guest post from:

Edited and updated for Australia by Karl Drummond

Leave A Response

* Denotes Required Field