The WRC may have lost the VW factory outfit for 2017 but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth watching. In fact, Citroen returns to the series for the new season after a year out and Toyota is back too, joining M-Sport’s Ford team and the Hyundai squad.
All of the major manufacturers have released their new 2017 cars and one of the biggest differences compared to the previous WRC machines are the huge, aggressive aero packages that make the cars look damn awesome. This is due to a number of aero rule changes for the new season.
Yeah, they really do. The cars may be small hatchbacks but they certainly look mean as hell with their huge rear wings, sharp aero lines and bulging wheel arches. Some may think all that aero would look weird on smaller hatchbacks but the manufacturers have done a great job with them.
VW’s WRC exit was definitely a big hit and left some of the series’ biggest drivers without a place to go. But, fortunately for us, most of the big-hitters are back in action in 2017 – four-time champion and all-round WRC legend Sebastien Ogier has moved to M-Sport, for example.
Kris Meeke stays at the Citroen works team, while Jari-Matti Latvala has switched from VW to Toyota and front-runners Thierry Neuville, Dani Sordo and Hayden Paddon remain at Hyundai. There’s a lot of young, emerging talent out there too, like M-Sport’s Ott Tanak.
For 2017, more emphasis has been on organising a calendar with a mix of stage surfaces, so there’s not a run of six consecutive rallies on gravel. We don’t want to see that. We want variety. It’s good to see WRC reacting to this to shake up the schedule a bit.
Alongside more aero, there’s also more power – the cars have had a boost from 300bhp to 380bhp, with a torque increase to 331.9lb ft. The turbo restrictor has increased from 33 to 36mm, which will have an impact on speed. A 25kg cut in weight will also mean faster rally cars – which is good news for us!
Some of the aero regulations, like the rear diffuser and wheel arches, have been relaxed for the new 2017 season, so that’s given the manufacturers a bit more freedom to try something different, gain performance and make their cars even quicker.
This one is purely speculative, because we don’t know for sure. But judging by all the test videos around and the rule changes, it’s safe to bet the cars will be more exciting to look at (not just visually but handling wise) and watch on stages. With more power and aero, drivers should have more confidence chucking them around. But we’ll see…
The good thing about the WRC is that it cuts the winter break short for fans and viewers. The season stretches from the end of January to mid-November, with the famous Rally Monte Carlo kicking things off from the 20-22 January. So, we really don’t have long to wait before things get going. Perfect!
What do you make of the WRC in 2017? Are you looking forward to it? Let us know below.