Most Dominant Forces in WRC
Man’s urge for speed and competition became the foundation stone for the sport of auto racing. First racing event, held in 1894, bore no resemblance to modern F1, WRC, Leman’s and Dakar events. Out of all the current racing events, WRC holds a special monumental spot because it is held on normal roads and on very diverse terrain. Dakar is primarily held on sandy surface whereas F1 and Leman’s are held on tarmac track, though all pose different challenge to both driver and car, WRC is held on surfaces that include tarmac, ice, snow and gravel so it tends to get more challenging and interesting, compared to rest.
Demise of Group B Supercars:
This love affair of man, machine and road began in 1973 and continues till date. Alpine-Renault became the very first WRC champion and later Lancia, Ford and Sunbeam Lotus also achieved this honor. In 1980s , Group B supercars dominated WRC circuits. These cars had almost no restriction on power and torque; Audi Quattro S1, Lancia Delta S4, Peugeot 205 Turbo 16 and Ford RS200 came in spotlight, all for different reasons. After 5 deaths, 2 drivers and 3 spectators, FIA, the then governing body of WRC, decided to haul Group B cars in favor of, power restricted, Group A cars.
Rising forces from ‘Land of The Rising Sun’:
Group A cars were powered by 1.6 litre turbo charged engines with power being restricted to 300hp. Though Golf Gti and Lancia Delta Integrate dominated the initial years in Group A category, later one winning 6 straight constructor’s titles, Japanese automakers like Toyota, Mitsubishi and Subaru also took advantage of power restrictions, developing small, highly efficient and reliable engines for their entries.
Toyota Celica GT4, Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution and Subaru Impreza STi achieved great fame and success during this time frame. Toyota managed to achieve constructor’s championship in 1993 and 1994, whereas, Subaru emerged as the most dominant Japanese automaker in WRC, winning three consecutive constructor’s titles from 1995 till 1997. 1998 proved to be the lucky year for Mitsubishi as they claimed their sole constructor’s title; Tommi Makinen won driver’s title 4 times in a row, from 1996 till 1999, while driving for Mitsubishi. Later, from 2000 onwards, Citroen, Peugeot and Ford made WRC a three horse race as Mitsubishi and Subaru teams were forced to back out by 2008, after numerous seasons of mediocre performance. Toyota on the other hand withdrew a lot earlier.
Three drivers stand out from the crowd in recent WRC era, Sebastian Loeb, Marcus Gronholm (retired in 2010) and Peter Solberg. Loeb is Michael Schumacher of WRC; he won a record 8 WRC driver championships, consecutively. If Citroen is a force to be reckoned with on WRC circuit, then most of its credit goes to Sebastian Loeb. Gronholm on the other hand put Peugeot on the map and later powered Ford’s successful run at constructor’s championship, though he failed to achieve driver’s title with Ford. Solberg is the driving force behind Subaru. The blue, grunting machine claimed three back to back titles with Solberg behind the wheel, he is currently driving for Ford.
Japan’s Imprint On Automotive History:
Though Japan’s stint in WRC remained brief it made its point and made a great impact on their sales. Celica, Evolution and Impreza, all three became icons and formed a cult following in underground tuner races. Later, games and movies inspired by these reasonably priced, reliable and easy to upgrade Japanese cars also garnered huge success; NFS Underground, NFS Most Wanted, Fast and Furious series etc to name a few. Out of the three Subaru needs more acclaim as it wasn’t backed by engineering giants. Unlike Toyota and Mitsubishi, Subaru produces, and continues to follow this strategy, limited numbers of its performance cars, thus making them unique and exclusive while keeping their price rather affordable.
About the Author:
Well I am a tuning fanatic and lifelong Impreza STi fan. I follow GP and WRC races religiously, with my 4 years of experience in tuning Japanese cars, I can safely proclaim myself as an expert in this field. If you have any questions or you are facing any engine needs or problems. Feel free to contact me.
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Most Dominant Forces in WRC