World Rally Cars: 2017 - 2021
The 2017 season marked the 45th anniversary of the FIA World Rally Championship, kicking off once again with the classic Rallye Monte Carlo. Revised technical regulations meant that the new generation of World Rally Cars boasted increased levels of engine power, more aggressive aerodynamics, and electronically controlled differentials.
Of course, more power results in faster cars, but the improved aerodynamics and suspension make a current generation World Rally Car much safer to drive than a Group B equivalent from the 1980s.
The biggest news, aside from the newly-implemented technical changes, was that Sébastien Ogier and co-driver Julien Ingrassia signed a new contract with M-Sport Ford World Rally Team. The French pair teamed up with Estonia’s Ott Tänak and Welsh wizard Elfyn Evans in the new Ford Fiesta.
Hyundai entered its New Generation i20 Coupe model at the hands of title favourite Thierry Neuville, the ever-reliable Dani Sordo and Hayden Paddon, whilst Toyota made a welcome return to the championship after an 18-year sabbatical. Under the Tommi Mäkinen managed Toyota Gazoo Racing banner, it fielded Jari-Matti Latvala, Juha Hänninen and Esapekka Lappi in its Yaris.
Citroën also opted for a full championship assault following a part-time campaign the previous year. Kris Meeke, Craig Breen, Stefane Lefebvre and Andreas Mikkelsen throughout the year in their C3 model.
Ogier and Ingrassia immediately picked up from where they left off at Volkswagen, taking another world title and scoring another Manufacturers’ victory for the M-Sport outfit. Tänak was third and moved to Toyota for 2018.
An intense battle in 2018 saw Ogier, Neuville and Tänak head to the final round in Australia with a mathematical chance of championship victory.
Neuville’s hopes were dashed when his Hyundai clipped a bank on the final day and lost a wheel. Elsewhere, Tänak’s Toyota succumbed to transmission failure which inevitably handed Ogier and the M-Sport Ford Team yet another World Championship victory.
So, as the 2019 season kicked off, the World Rally Championship had yet to see a non-French driver lift the coveted title in over a decade.
Despite a successful two years at M-Sport, Sébastien Ogier’s contract with the team had run out. Citroën were quick to snap him up with hopes of taking back the Manufacturers’ title once again. Esapekka Lappi drove the second C3 for the French team.
However, Citroën’s dreams of success didn’t come to fruition. Whilst Ogier was able to bring home victories in Monte Carlo, Mexico and Turkey, the reigning champ struggled throughout the year with the handling characteristics of his C3.
Neuville topped the timesheets in Corsica, Argentina and Spain in his Hyundai, but there was one man that nobody could catch.
Tänak was unassailable in his Toyota Yaris, taking 73 stage wins throughout the year and six rally victories across all surfaces. He and Martin Järveoja sealed the deal in Spain and finally took their maiden World Rally Championship title - ending the ‘Seb’ domination. Neuville was a distant second and Ogier had to settle for the final step on the podium.
But it wasn't long before Ogier was back on top. The Frenchman came out on top of a season-long battle with his Yaris team-mate Elfyn Evans to clinch his seventh title in 2020. The following year, Ogier repeated his success by adding an eighth championship victory to his name.
|2017||Sébastien Ogier (FRA)||Ford Fiesta||M-Sport Ford|
|2018||Sébastien Ogier (FRA)||Ford Fiesta||Toyota|
|2019||Ott Tänak (EST)||Toyota Yaris||Hyundai|