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World Rally Championship

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

World Rally Championship
CategoryWorld Rally Car
Inaugural season1973
Tire suppliersP
 Drivers' championFrance Sébastien Ogier
 Co-Drivers' championFrance Julien Ingrassia
 Constructors' championJapan Toyota
Motorsport current event.svg
Current season

The World Rally Championship (abbreviated as WRC) is the highest level of global competition in the motorsport discipline of rallying, governed and organised by the FIA. There are separate championships for drivers, co-drivers and manufacturers, with a new teams championship added in 2021. The series currently consists of 12 two to three-day events driven on surfaces ranging from gravel and tarmac to snow and ice. Each rally is usually split into 15–25 special stages which are run against the clock on closed roads.[1]

The WRC was formed from well-known and popular international rallies, most of which had previously been part of the European Rally Championship or the International Championship for Manufacturers, and the series was first contested in 1973. The World Rally Car is the current car specification in the series. It evolved from Group A cars which replaced the banned Group B supercars. World Rally Cars are built on production 1.6-litre four-cylinder cars, but feature turbochargers, anti-lag systems, four-wheel-drive, sequential gearboxes, aerodynamic parts and other enhancements brought the price of a WRC car to around €700,000 (US$1 million).[2]

The WRC features three support championships, the Junior World Rally Championship (JWRC, formerly the WRC Academy), the World Rally Championship-2, and the World Rally Championship-3 which are contested on the same events and stages as the WRC, but with different regulations. The WRC-2, WRC-3 and junior entrants race through the stages after the WRC drivers.



The World Rally Championship was formed from well-known international rallies, nine of which were previously part of the International Championship for Manufacturers (IMC), which was contested from 1970 to 1972. The 1973 World Rally Championship was the inaugural season of the WRC and began with the Monte Carlo Rally on January 19.

Alpine-Renault won the first manufacturer's world championship with its Alpine A110, after which Lancia took the title three years in a row with the Ferrari V6-powered Lancia Stratos HF, the first car designed and manufactured specifically for rallying. The first drivers' world championship was not awarded until 1979, although 1977 and 1978 seasons included an FIA Cup for Drivers, won by Italy's Sandro Munari and Finland's Markku Alén respectively. Sweden's Björn Waldegård became the first official world champion, edging out Finland's Hannu Mikkola by one point. Fiat took the manufacturers' title with the Fiat 131 Abarth in 1977, 1978 and 1980, Ford with its Escort RS1800 in 1979 and Talbot with its Sunbeam Lotus in 1981. Waldegård was followed by German Walter Röhrl and Finn Ari Vatanen as drivers' world champions.

Group B era

The 1980s saw the rear-wheel-drive Group 2 and the more popular Group 4 cars be replaced by more powerful four-wheel-drive Group B cars. FISA legalized all-wheel-drive in 1979, but most manufacturers believed it was too complex to be successful. However, after Audi started entering Mikkola and the new four-wheel-drive Quattro in rallies for testing purposes with immediate success, other manufacturers started their all-wheel-drive projects. Group B regulations were introduced in the 1982, and with only a few restrictions allowed almost unlimited power. Audi took the constructors' title in 1982 and 1984 and drivers' title in 1983 (Mikkola) and 1984 (Stig Blomqvist). Audi's French female driver Michèle Mouton came close to winning the title in 1982, but had to settle for second place after Opel rival Röhrl. The 1985 title seemed set to go to Vatanen and his Peugeot 205 T16 but a bad accident at the Rally Argentina left him to watch compatriot and teammate Timo Salonen take the title instead. Italian Attilio Bettega had an even more severe crash with his Lancia 037 at the Tour de Corse and died instantly.

The 1986 started with impressive performances by Finns Henri Toivonen and Alén in Lancia's new turbo- and supercharged Delta S4, which could reportedly accelerate from 0–60 mph (96 km/h) in 2.3 seconds, on a gravel road.[3] However, the season soon took a dramatic turn. At the Rally Portugal, three spectators were killed and over 30 injured after Joaquim Santos lost control of his Ford RS200. At the Tour de Corse, championship favourite Toivonen and his co-driver Sergio Cresto died in a fireball accident after plunging down a cliff. Only hours after the crash, Jean-Marie Balestre and the FISA decided to freeze the development of the Group B cars and ban them from competing in 1987. More controversy followed when Peugeot's Juha Kankkunen won the title after FIA annulled the results of the San Remo Rally, taking the title from fellow Finn Markku Alén.

Group A era

Group A Lancia Delta HF Integrale. Lancia is the manufacturer with the most wins in the WRC: 11 world Championship for Manufacturers, with 6 consecutives.
Group A Lancia Delta HF Integrale. Lancia is the manufacturer with the most wins in the WRC: 11 world Championship for Manufacturers, with 6 consecutives.

As the planned Group S was also cancelled, Group A regulations became the standard in the WRC until 1997. A separate Group A championship had been organized as part of the WRC already in 1986, with Sweden's Kenneth Eriksson taking the title with a Volkswagen Golf GTI 16V.[4] Lancia was quickest in adapting to the new regulations and controlled the world rally scene with Lancia Delta HF, winning the constructors' title six years in a row from 1987 to 1992 and remains the most successful marque in the history of the WRC. Kankkunen and Miki Biasion both took two drivers' titles with the Lancia Delta HF. The 1990s then saw the Japanese manufacturers, Toyota, Subaru and Mitsubishi, become title favourites. Spain's Carlos Sainz driving for Toyota Team Europe took the 1990 and 1992 titles with a Toyota Celica GT-Four. Kankkunen moved to Toyota for the 1993 season and won his record fourth title, with Toyota taking its first manufacturers' crown. Frenchman Didier Auriol brought the team further success in 1994, and soon Subaru and Mitsubishi continued the success of the Japanese constructors. Scotsman Colin McRae won the drivers' world championship in 1995 and Subaru took the manufacturers' title three years in a row. Finland's Tommi Mäkinen driving a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution won the drivers' championship four times in a row, from 1996 to 1999. Mitsubishi also won the manufacturers' title in 1998. Another notable car was the Ford Escort RS Cosworth, which was specifically designed for rallying. It was the first production car to produce downforce both at front and rear.

World Rally Car era

For the 1997 World Rally Championship, the World Rally Car regulations were introduced as an intended replacement for Group A (only successive works Mitsubishis still conforming to the latter formula; until they, too, homologated a Lancer Evolution WRC from the 2001 San Remo Rally). After the success of Mäkinen and the Japanese manufacturers, France's Peugeot made a very successful return to the World Rally Championship. Finn Marcus Grönholm took the drivers' title in his first full year in the series and Peugeot won the manufacturers' crown. England's Richard Burns won the 2001 title with a Subaru Impreza WRC, but Grönholm and Peugeot took back both titles in the 2002. 2003 saw Norway's Petter Solberg become drivers' champion for Subaru and Citroën continue the success of the French manufacturers. Citroën's Sébastien Loeb went on to control the following seasons with his Citroën Xsara WRC. Citroën took the constructors' title three times in a row and Loeb surpassed Mäkinen's record of four consecutive drivers' titles, earning his ninth consecutive championship in 2012. Volkswagen Motorsport entered the championship in 2013 and Sebastien Ogier dominated the series with six consecutive titles. New World Rally Car rules were introduced for 2017 which generated faster and more aggressive cars.

In 2018, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT won the World Rally Championship earning Toyota their first manufacturers' title since 1999.[5] With Tommi Mäkinen heading the team, he became the first person in the history of rally driving to win a Championship both as a driver and as a team principal.[6]

The championships

Any crew entering any rally on the calendar qualify for eligibility to score points in the overall World Rally Championships for Drivers and Co-Drivers. This is regardless of car technical class, number of rallies entered or if they are also entered into the support championships.

Manufacturers must register to be eligible to score in the World Rally Championship for Manufacturers and must compete in World Rally Car specification cars. As the manufacturers use the highest performance car and usually employ the best drivers it is usually the case that these crews and cars take the majority of drivers/co-drivers championship points. Thus, combined with the money invested by the manufacturer teams, promotion of the WRC only tends to include the manufacturer crews and privateers in the World Rally Car. These crews are given Priority 1 (P1) status on rallies and contest the stages before other crews. However it is not unusual for competitors in lower performance cars to take points in the drivers or co-driver's championships.

In 2021, the World Rally Championship for Teams was introduced although it only appears in the official sporting regulations as no promotion whatsoever is given to it elsewhere.[7]

Support championships

The World Rally Championship also features support championships called the World Rally Championship-2, the World Rally Championship-3 and the Junior World Rally Championship. These championships are contested on the same events and stages as the WRC calendar and have tighter restrictions on eligible car criteria - usually just one type.


WRC2 is contested using only Rally2 cars with championships for drivers, co-drivers and teams. Drivers and co-drivers can enter a maximum of 7 events and their best 6 results will count towards their championship tally. Teams must enter two cars into a maximum of 7 events, 1 of which must be outside of Europe and the best 6 results will count towards the championship tally. Power stage points are also awarded. Drivers, co-drivers and teams must all nominate if they wish to be eligible for championship points before a rally and can do so independently. For that reason the same crew pair in the same team may compete in all events in a season yet nominate and score points in different events. Crews competing in WRC2 are given Priority 2 status and run the stages immediately after P1 crews. WRC2 replaced SWRC when Group R was introduced in 2013 and the eligibility rules relaxed.


Like WRC2, WRC3 is contested using only Rally2 cars but with championships only for drivers and co-drivers. Designed for privateer drivers, WRC3 has lower entry costs than WRC2 and there are restrictions on who can enter, testing and professional support received. Drivers and co-drivers can enter up to 7 rallies with their best 5 scoring championship points, and scoring rounds must also be nominated beforehand. Power stage points are also awarded. Between 2013 and 2018, the championship was contested using two wheel drive cars from R1, R2 and R3 classes of Group R. No championship ran in 2019 but was reinstated in its current format in 2020. Crews competing in WRC3 are usually given Priority 3 status to run after the WRC2 crews, however some more experienced or higher profile crews may be given Priority 2 status.


JWRC is an FIA sanctioned championship run by M-Sport for drivers under 29. Ford Fiesta Rally4 cars are provided, maintained and serviced for each entrant. Championships are awarded to drivers, co-drivers and nations. Only 5 rounds of the WRC calendar are competed with the best 4 results counting towards championship points, although the final round is worth double points. The highest scoring driver from each country registers points for the nations championship. Uniquely for this series, points are also awarded for stage wins. Crews competing in J-WRC are given Priority 4 status and run on the stages after the WRC3/P3 crews.

Discontinued support championships

The World Rally Championship Ladies Cup ran from 1990 to 1995 and could be won by any class of car. Louise Aitken-Walker was the first winner.[8]

The Production car World Rally Championship (P-WRC) began in 1987 as the FIA Group N Cup before being renamed in 2002. Cars in the championship were production-based and homologated under Group N rules.[9] From 2013, the Production WRC was renamed WRC-3 including Group R cars with two-wheel drive (R3, R2 and R1).[10][11]

The 2-Litre World Rally Cup ran from 1993 to 1999 using front wheel drive cars with engine capacities up to 2000cc. With relaxed rules the cars could often outpace the Group A and World Rally Cars of the main category. The series was abandoned due to high costs and the Super 2000 and Super 1600 specification cars that the series inspired later became the origins for SWRC and JWRC.

The Super 2000 World Rally Championship (S-WRC) was started in 2010 using Super 2000 category cars.[12] There were competitions for drivers (known as the S-WRC) and another for teams (the World Rally Championship Cup). From 2013, WRC-2 replaced S-WRC and including cars with four-wheel drive (R5, R4 and S2000).[10][11]

World Rally Championship Academy (WRC Academy) was an alternative name for JWRC between 2011 and 2012, the first years the championship became a one-make series before reverting to the JWRC name.

The WRC Trophy was run in 2017 for privateers entering with older World Rally Cars when the new WRC+ was introduced.

World Rally Championship-2 Pro (WRC2PRO) ran only in 2019 and was open to manufacturer-supported teams entering cars complying with Group R5 regulations.[13] It was replaced in 2020 with the Rally2 based WRC3.

One-make series tournaments have also run on select rounds of the WRC calendar. They were privately administered rally tournaments but permitted to run on the rallies alongside the WRC. Examples include the Ford Fiesta Sporting Trophy (2006, 2007 and 2009) and DMACK Fiesta Trophy (2014–2016), both ran by M-Sport, and Citroën Top Driver (2013) ran by Citroën. Neither team held these tournaments in the years they had the rights to manage the JWRC on the FIA's behalf.

Evolution of the WRC Championships
1970 1980 1990 2000 2010 2020
3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1
Overall Championships Manufacturers
FIA Cup Drivers and co-drivers
Support Championships PWRC WRC 3 (2WD) WRC 3
2 Litre Cup SWRC WRC 2

Format and structure


Each WRC season consists of a number of rounds within the same calendar year and should ordinarily include rallies on a minimum of 3 continents.[14] Most recently there have been about 13 rallies though there have been as few as 8 such as in 1995. The rallies are typically driven on surfaces ranging from gravel and tarmac to snow and ice.


Škoda preparing their cars a day before the shakedown
Škoda preparing their cars a day before the shakedown

In the current era each rally usually consists of between fifteen and thirty special stages of distances ranging from under 2 km (1.2 mi) (known as super special stages) to over 50 kilometres (31 mi). These competitive stages are driven on closed roads which are linked by non-competitive road sections—open roads on which all road laws of that country must be adhered to. On average a day consists of a total of 400 kilometres (250 mi) of driving.[15] A WRC event begins with reconnaissance (recce) on Tuesday and Wednesday, allowing crews to drive through the stages and create or update their pace notes. On Thursday, teams can run through the shakedown stage to practice and test their set-ups. The competition typically begins on Friday and ends on Sunday, though some rallies—most notably the Monte Carlo Rally—may be run over four or five days. Cars start the stages at two-minute intervals in clear weather, or three-minute intervals if it is decided that visibility may be a problem for competitors. Each day, or leg, has a few designated service parks between the stages, where the teams can – within strict time limits – perform maintenance and repairs on their cars. The service park also allows spectators and the media to get close to the teams and their cars and drivers. Between the days, after a 45-minute end of day service, cars are locked away in parc fermé,[15] a quarantine environment where teams are not permitted to access or work on their cars.

Championship points

Points are awarded and contribute towards the world championships, and those with the most points at the end of the season are given the championship title. Points can be awarded derived from the overall final classification or from the Power Stage (below). The driver's championship and manufacturer's championship are separate but based on a similar point system. This means a driver can win the driver's championship driving one car yet a different manufacturer can win the manufacturer's championship which has occurred on several occasions, most recently in 2018, 2019 and 2020.

Points are awarded at the end of each rally to the top ten overall finishers under the following points structure for drivers and co-drivers:

Position  1st   2nd   3rd   4th   5th   6th   7th   8th   9th   10th 
Points 25 18 15 12 10 8 6 4 2 1

Manufacturers must nominate up to three crews to be eligible for manufacturer championship points before an event. The two fastest nominated crews from each manufacturer essentially form a new classification for the purpose of awarding manufacturer points in the same structure as above. Retired crews cannot score points and it is not unusual for a crew to finish way down the overall order, possibly after restarting, yet still score manufacturers points.

Power Stage

First introduced in 2011, the "Power Stage" is the final stage of the rally and is typically televised live and immediately followed by the rally's podium celebrations. Additional World Championship points are available to the five fastest drivers and co-drivers through the stage regardless of where they actually finish in the rally. The fastest team receiving five points, the second-fastest receiving four points, etc. and the fifth-fastest receiving one. In 2021 manufacturers began scoring power stage points following a similar system to the classification points, where only the top two nominated from each team can be eligible. Ordinary Special Stages are timed with an accuracy to the tenth of a second, the "Power Stage" timing is to the thousandth of a second.[16]

Restarting after retirement

Crews are permitted to restart the following day if they are forced to retire. For each stage not completed however, a ten-minute penalty plus the winning stage time in the same priority group is added to the overall time. Originally known as SuperRally when introduced and later renamed Rally 2, the rules allow for a better return on investment for competitors and more action for spectators. The Rally 2 name was dropped in 2019 as restarting became the norm, indeed crews are expected and assumed to be restarting unless they register a permanent retirement with the clerk of the course. The name was also dropped to avoid confusion with the new Rally2 group of car. Restarting is still at the discretion of the organisers, such as meeting safety standards after a heavy accident.


The rules surrounding which cars are used in WRC are governed and approved by the FIA. Cars have always followed a basic categorisation of being production, touring car or special grand touring cars with a minimum production requirement to achieve homologation by the FIA. The rules have changed over time to suit economic conditions, for safety reasons, to advance technology, to attract more manufacturer entrants or to better promote the series. Specifications of cars used can be for just one type, such as the World Rally Car, or a Group of similar specifications that differ in performance such as Group R. In 2014, the FIA introduced sporting classes to help further categorise the different classes and groups based on performance. RC1 has the highest performance cars whilst RC5 has the lowest permitted at WRC level.

To enter a WRC rally in 2021, cars must be homologated in one of the following groups or classes: World Rally Car 1.6L, any of the groups of the Rally Pyramid or either R3 or R-GT of Group R[7]

World Rally Car 1.6L

The highest performing of the current eligible cars with 1.6L direct injection turbo engines and four-wheel drive built to World Rally Car regulations. The power output is limited to around 280 kW (380 hp). Current cars in the championship include the Ford Fiesta WRC, Toyota Yaris WRC and the Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC. The Volkswagen Polo R WRC ended its run with the close of the 2016 season.[17] After Citroën pulled out at the end of 2019 its Citroën C3 WRC could not be used as the WRC rules state the manufacturer must maintain its own simultaneous entry.

2021 will be the final season of this specification at the top of the sport, being replaced by Rally1 in 2022 and bringing the main WRC championship in line with the aims of the Rally Pyramid.

Rally Pyramid / Groups Rally

Oliver Solberg and Aaron Johnston on Rally Sweden 2020 in a Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo
Oliver Solberg and Aaron Johnston on Rally Sweden 2020 in a Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo

The Rally Pyramid consists of six Groups of rally car specifications, five of which from Rally2 to Rally5 are currently eligible for WRC. Rally2 cars, formerly R5 of Group R, are the second highest performance cars and are the sole cars eligible for WRC-2 and WRC-3.

Rally2-Kit cars, previously known as R4-kit in Group R, are also eligible for overall entry. Rally2 and Rally2-Kit are within the same sporting category - RC2.

Rally3 cars will also be used in WRC-3 from 2022.

Rally4 cars, formerly R2 of Group R, are currently the sole-specification used in J-WRC, though from 2022 will not have a specific support championship.

Rally5 cars, formerly R1 of Group R, do not have a specific support championship.

Rally1 cars complete the Groups Rally and will be introduced in 2022 and will replace the World Rally Car as the highest performance car. They will introduce hybrid powertrains for the first time in rallying amongst cost-cutting initiatives such as centrally developed tubular safety structures and simpler suspension and transmissions.

Group R

Starting in 2008, a category of rally cars known as Group R were introduced as a rally only replacement to the Group A and Group N categories which were slowly phased out of eligibility. Cars were classified under one of six categories based on their engine capacity and type, wheelbase, and drivetrain. Group R cars still had to be homologated in Group A or N but have the relevant Group R extension approved in common with other rally formulae. As a result, older cars could reclassify under Group R subject to meeting criteria.

With R5, R4, R2 and R1 of Group R being renamed and absorbed by the new Rally Pyramid, as of the 2021 season R3 and R-GT cars are still currently eligible for overall entry. R3 cars however have been downgraded to RC4 sporting class from RC3, in line with Rally4 cars rather than superseding them.[7] Neither R3 or R-GT have specific WRC support championships.

Historically eligible cars

Fiat Grande Punto Abarth S2000

When the WRC began in 1973, FISA allowed cars from its Group 1 (series-production touring cars), Group 2 (touring cars), Group 3 (series-production grand touring cars) and Group 4 (modified grand touring cars) amongst national classes. These FISA classes were also used in circuit racing and other motorsport championships. The groups formed the basis of new groups in 1982, Group N replaced Group 1, Group A replaced Group 2, and Group B replaced Group 4. Due to the increasing power, lack of reliability and a series of fatal accidents during the 1986 season, Group B was permanently banned. In 1987 Group A became the highest performance car and the choice for manufacturers whilst privateers opted for the budget friendly Group N for use in the newly created Production Car World Rally Championship. A Group N car has won a WRC rally only once - a Renault 5 driven by Alain Oreille won the Rallye Côte d'Ivoire in 1989. Despite the PWRC ending in 2012, Group N cars were allowed to enter WRC2 until 2016 and overall rallies until the end of 2018.

In 1997, the World Rally Car specification was introduced to ease the development of new cars and bring new makes to the competition. An extension of Group A, the WRC cars were used in the manufacturer's championship, although Mitsubishi received special dispensation to run their Group A models into 1999, and won three drivers and one manufacturers championships whilst doing so. In 2011 changes were made to the World Rally Car, the engine capacity was restricted to 1.6L and the minimum length requirement removed to allow for smaller and cost-effective models. Further changes in 2017 allowed for more aero-dynamics, increased safety requirements and a larger air intake restrictor, which increased the effective power from 300 to 380 hp.

Super 2000 cars were allowed to enter the overall rallies from 2007 to 2018. They were eligible in the PWRC from 2007 to 2009 before the Super 2000 World Rally Championship was run between 2010 and 2012. They were also accepted in WRC2 from 2013 to 2016. Super 1600 cars were only allowed to enter in JWRC and on events that the championship was held on up to 2010 before the R2 became the sole championship car.

Evolution of Car Groups and Classes used in the WRC Manufacturers Championship.
1970 1980 1990 2000 2010 2020
3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2
Car Categories Group 4 Group B
Group 2 Group A World Rally Car 2.0L World Rally Car 1.6L Rally1
Group 1 Group N
Summary of Car Groups and Classes otherwise permitted to enter rallies or in support championships.[18]
1980 1990 2000 2010 2020
7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2
Group N N4 (>2.0L) PWRC WRC2
N1-N3 (<=2.0L) PWRC PWRC
2.0L Cup
Group A A8 (>2.0L)
A5-A7 (<=2.0L) 2.0L Cup JWRC
Super 1600 JWRC Only
Super 2000 PWRC SWRC WRC2
Group R
Groups Rally
R1 (Rally5) JWRC PWRC WRC3
R2 (Rally4) JWRC JWRC
R4 / (Rally2-Kit) SWRC
WRC2 Excl-Europe
R5 (Rally2) WRC2 WRC2
Rally3 WRC3

Teams and drivers

Mitsubishi service park at the 2005 Cyprus Rally
Mitsubishi service park at the 2005 Cyprus Rally

21 different manufacturers have won a World Rally Championship event: Citroën, Ford, Lancia, Toyota, Peugeot, Subaru, Volkswagen, Mitsubishi, Audi, Fiat, Hyundai, Datsun/Nissan, Opel, Renault, Renault-Alpine, Saab, Mazda, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche and Talbot.[19] With a further 11 having finished on the podium: Seat, Mini, Vauxhall, Alfa Romeo, Volvo, Ferrari, MG, Polski Fiat, Škoda, Triumph and Wartburg.[20] Lancia, with ten Manufacturers' Championships, has won more championships than any other marque.

Suzuki and Subaru pulled out of the WRC at the end of the 2008 championship, both citing the economic downturn then affecting the automotive industry for their withdrawal. Mini and Ford both pulled out of the WRC at the end of the 2012 championship, due to a similar economic downturn affecting the European market, although Ford continued to give technical support to M-Sport.

A typical WRC team will consist of about 40 people on the events, with a further 60–100 at the team base.[21]

Manufacturers and manufacturer-backed teams usually have two or three drivers participating in each rally who are eligible to score points. The total number of crews (driver and their co-driver) in the rallies varied from 47 (Monte Carlo and Mexico) to 108 (Great Britain) during the 2007.[22]

In 2012, the Ford World Rally Team and the Mini WRC Team both announced their departure from the World Rally Championships for the 2013 season. Volkswagen and Hyundai made their return to the championship in 2013 and 2014, respectively. Toyota announced it will return to the World Rally Championships for the 2017 season[23] with its Toyota Gazoo Racing team and its Toyota Yaris WRC car. Also Citroën will return to the sport in 2017 with a fully factory-supported team after competing part-time in 2016 to focus on the development of their 2017-generation brand-new car based on the Citroën C3.

Promotion and coverage

WRC Promoter GmbH owns the commercial rights to the WRC championships, responsible for all media coverage, sponsorship operations and encouraging of participants. WRC Promoter GmbH is jointly owned by Red Bull Media House and KW25 Beteiligungs GmbH.[24] Through the Red Bull Content Pool, WRC provides news, articles and images for professional news and media outlets free of charge.[25] The website and mobile apps provides news, live rally times and results, championship standings and information about the rallies and championships.

Internet video

Video coverage is provided in various forms at, mobile or smart TV apps. Brief highlights, clips on technology and documentary videos are free to watch, whilst a paid-for subscription is required to watch premium content via WRC+. This service features the same highlights and review videos as produced for TV, as well as onboard footage, live map tracking, and since 2018 WRC+ All Live, live coverage and commentary from every stage during each rally event.[26]

Brief and free video footage is also provided via social media platforms. In addition, the first running of Shakedown is often shown live on YouTube and Facebook though is not shown via WRC+.

Red Bull also produce feature-length programmes for Red Bull TV using stage footage from WRC TV combined with their own presenting team and insight from guest pundits. also provide some video content in a similar way, though usually not as long.


WRC TV produces previews, daily highlights and event reviews for each rally, as well as other magazine shows such as season reviews for broadcast television. Some TV stations also broadcast the power stage and select other stages live, usually two stages on a Saturday and the first run of what will be the power stage. Further, TV stations may broadcast the entire All Live live stream, typically via an interactive channel.[27]

The make up and format for these programmes can vary from country to country depending on the local broadcaster and prominence of local drivers. In 2016, the cumulative worldwide TV audience for WRC TV's programmes was more than 700 million, growing to 836 million in 2019. The programming is available in over 150 markets and more than 12,000 hours were screened globally in 2016, reducing to under 10,000 hours in 2019.[28][24]


Live radio coverage was provided in English by WRC Live via the Internet, featuring end of stage reports direct from the drivers and teams plus service park news. They also produced podcasts. It also featured contemporary music during breaks in rally coverage.[29] World Rally Radio ceased in 2018 when WRC+ All Live began.


An official podcast is frequently produced. The latest version Backstories has interviewed drivers and co-drivers since 2020.[30]


Sébastien Ogier at the 2016 Rally de Portugal with Volkswagen Polo R WRC
Sébastien Ogier at the 2016 Rally de Portugal with Volkswagen Polo R WRC
Season Championship for drivers Championship for manufacturers
Driver Car Manufacturer Car
2021 France Sébastien Ogier Toyota Yaris WRC Japan Toyota Toyota Yaris WRC
2020 France Sébastien Ogier Toyota Yaris WRC South Korea Hyundai Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC
2019 Estonia Ott Tänak Toyota Yaris WRC South Korea Hyundai Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC
2018 France Sébastien Ogier Ford Fiesta WRC Japan Toyota Toyota Yaris WRC
2017 France Sébastien Ogier Ford Fiesta WRC United Kingdom M-Sport (Ford)[a][b] Ford Fiesta WRC
2016 France Sébastien Ogier Volkswagen Polo R WRC Germany Volkswagen Volkswagen Polo R WRC
2015 France Sébastien Ogier Volkswagen Polo R WRC Germany Volkswagen Volkswagen Polo R WRC
2014 France Sébastien Ogier Volkswagen Polo R WRC Germany Volkswagen Volkswagen Polo R WRC
2013 France Sébastien Ogier Volkswagen Polo R WRC Germany Volkswagen Volkswagen Polo R WRC
2012 France Sébastien Loeb Citroën DS3 WRC France Citroën Citroën DS3 WRC
2011 France Sébastien Loeb Citroën DS3 WRC France Citroën Citroën DS3 WRC
2010 France Sébastien Loeb Citroën C4 WRC France Citroën Citroën C4 WRC
2009 France Sébastien Loeb Citroën C4 WRC France Citroën Citroën C4 WRC
2008 France Sébastien Loeb Citroën C4 WRC France Citroën Citroën C4 WRC
2007 France Sébastien Loeb Citroën C4 WRC United Kingdom Ford[b] Ford Focus RS WRC 06/07
2006 France Sébastien Loeb Citroën Xsara WRC United Kingdom Ford[b] Ford Focus RS WRC 06
2005 France Sébastien Loeb Citroën Xsara WRC France Citroën Citroën Xsara WRC
2004 France Sébastien Loeb Citroën Xsara WRC France Citroën Citroën Xsara WRC
2003 Norway Petter Solberg Subaru Impreza WRC 2003 France Citroën Citroën Xsara WRC
2002 Finland Marcus Grönholm Peugeot 206 WRC France Peugeot Peugeot 206 WRC
2001 United Kingdom Richard Burns Subaru Impreza WRC 2001 France Peugeot Peugeot 206 WRC
2000 Finland Marcus Grönholm Peugeot 206 WRC France Peugeot Peugeot 206 WRC
1999 Finland Tommi Mäkinen Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VI Japan Toyota Toyota Corolla WRC
1998 Finland Tommi Mäkinen Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution V Japan Mitsubishi Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution V
1997 Finland Tommi Mäkinen Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IV Japan Subaru Subaru Impreza WRC
1996 Finland Tommi Mäkinen Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution III Japan Subaru Subaru Impreza 555
1995 United Kingdom Colin McRae Subaru Impreza 555 Japan Subaru Subaru Impreza 555
1994 France Didier Auriol Toyota Celica Turbo 4WD Japan Toyota Toyota Celica Turbo 4WD
1993 Finland Juha Kankkunen Toyota Celica Turbo 4WD Japan Toyota Toyota Celica Turbo 4WD
1992 Spain Carlos Sainz Toyota Celica Turbo 4WD Italy Lancia Lancia Delta HF Integrale
1991 Finland Juha Kankkunen Lancia Delta Integrale 16V Italy Lancia Lancia Delta Integrale 16V
1990 Spain Carlos Sainz Toyota Celica GT-Four Italy Lancia Lancia Delta Integrale 16V
1989 Italy Miki Biasion Lancia Delta Integrale Italy Lancia Lancia Delta Integrale
1988 Italy Miki Biasion Lancia Delta Integrale Italy Lancia Lancia Delta Integrale
1987 Finland Juha Kankkunen Lancia Delta HF 4WD Italy Lancia Lancia Delta HF 4WD
1986 Finland Juha Kankkunen Peugeot 205 Turbo 16 E2 France Peugeot Peugeot 205 Turbo 16 E2
1985 Finland Timo Salonen Peugeot 205 Turbo 16 France Peugeot Peugeot 205 Turbo 16
1984 Sweden Stig Blomqvist Audi Quattro Germany Audi Audi Quattro
1983 Finland Hannu Mikkola Audi Quattro Italy Lancia Lancia Rally 037
1982 Germany Walter Röhrl Opel Ascona 400 Germany Audi Audi Quattro
1981 Finland Ari Vatanen Ford Escort RS1800 United Kingdom Talbot Talbot Sunbeam Lotus
1980 Germany Walter Röhrl Fiat 131 Abarth Italy Fiat Fiat 131 Abarth
1979 Sweden Björn Waldegård Ford Escort RS1800[c] United States Ford[b] Ford Escort RS1800
1978 Finland Markku Alén[d] Fiat 131 Abarth[e] Italy Fiat Fiat 131 Abarth
1977 Italy Sandro Munari[d] Lancia Stratos HF Italy Fiat Fiat 131 Abarth
1976 No drivers' championship[f] Italy Lancia Lancia Stratos HF
1975 Italy Lancia Lancia Stratos HF
1974 Italy Lancia Lancia Stratos HF
1973 France Alpine-Renault Alpine-Renault A110

Event wins

Updated after 2021 Rally Monza. Drivers and manufacturers who have participated in the 2021 World Rally Championship are in bold.

Evolution of the calendar

Legend Meaning
Yes Active events
Maybe Valid only for 2 Litres Cup
No Cancelled rallies

Video games and esports

There have been many video games based on the World Rally Championship, and due to lack of licenses, many more based on only certain cars, drivers or events. Sega Rally was released in 1995, V-Rally and Top Gear Rally in 1997 and the first game in the very popular Colin McRae Rally series in 1998. Rally Trophy, released in 2001 for Microsoft Windows by Bugbear, concentrated on historic cars such as Alpine A110 and Lancia Stratos. RalliSport Challenge, released in 2002 for Windows and Xbox by Digital Illusions CE, featured classic Group B cars and hillclimb models along with modern WRC cars.

Fully FIA licensed WRC: World Rally Championship was released in 2001 for PlayStation 2 by Evolution Studios. The video game series had its fifth game, WRC: Rally Evolved, in 2005. Racing simulator Richard Burns Rally, released in 2004 for several platforms, has gathered recognition for its realism. Recent top-selling games include Colin McRae: DiRT 2, Sega Rally Revo and Dirt 3. Gran Turismo 5 includes WRC licensed cars from manufacturers such as Subaru and Ford. In October 2010, Black Bean Games released WRC: FIA World Rally Championship which features the cars, drivers and events of the 2010 World Rally Championship, including those from the three support categories. A downloadable patch was produced allowing players to drive in Group B cars such as the Audi Quattro.[35] Various cars whose participated in the WRC such as Mitsubishi Lancer WRC and Ford Fiesta RS WRC have also appeared in the Facebook game Car Town. The WRC video game license was acquired by French game development studio Kylotonn from Milestone srl after the release of WRC 4: FIA World Rally Championship in 2013. The first WRC game by Kylotonn was WRC 5, released in 2015, with successive releases on a near-annual basis with WRC 10 due in 2021. The WRC license will pass to Codemasters for the period of 2023 to 2027.[36]

eSports WRC is an online championship run via the latest official video game. Beginning in 2016, the championship is free and open to anybody with a copy of the game. Each esports season ends with a Grand Finale with competitors gathering for an on-site event to race each other, usually in the service park of an actual rally event. Previous eSports WRC champion Jon Armstrong is also a physical rally driver, and racehouse Williams run a team.[37]

See also


  1. ^ M-Sport were not the official Ford World Rally Team between 2013-2017.
  2. ^ a b c d e Ford competed from 19731985 with a U.S. racing license, and has competed since 1986 with a British racing licence.[31]
  3. ^ Björn Waldegård drove a Mercedes 450 SLC in two rallies in 1979.
  4. ^ a b In 1977 and 1978, the drivers championship was the FIA Cup for Rally Drivers.
  5. ^ Markku Alén drove a Lancia Stratos HF in two rallies in 1978.
  6. ^ No drivers title 1973–1976.
  7. ^ From 1982 to 1992 valid only for driver championship.


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  26. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2017-02-11. Retrieved 2020-12-16.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  27. ^ "Motorsport | Latest Motorsport News | BT Sport". Retrieved 2021-04-26.
  28. ^ "WRC Factbook 16-17". Archived from the original on 2018-02-01. Retrieved 2018-02-01.
  29. ^ "Popular Rally Radio service to end after Tour de Corse". 6 April 2018. Archived from the original on 2018-09-05. Retrieved 2018-09-04.
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External links

News and information
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