The WRC is evolving. And from 2017, new technical regulations will usher in a fresh and exciting breed of World Rally Cars that are more powerful, distinctive and dramatic.
Next year’s regulations have been designed to deliver more of what rally fans want to see, with Citroën, Hyundai, M-Sport, Toyota and Volkswagen each creating brand new rally weapons for the stages of the sport’s premier series. Their arrival will mark the start of an exciting new era for the sport.
In a new series on wrc.com, we explore the story behind these new cars. We’ll bring you the lowdown from leading figures in the sport including the WRC promoter, the FIA and the car manufacturers themselves.
Up first, WRC Promoter managing director Oliver Ciesla explains the rationale behind the 2017 regulations and how he expects they will impact the championship.
Q: What was the starting point for these new regulations?
“The trigger was a questionnaire we proposed to WRC fans in 2014 which brought us the feedback that the dramatic look and feel of cars, their sound and the exciting experience of watching them were the most important elements for us to deliver. We sat together with the teams and FIA and discussed the way forward to make cars look more dynamic, to give them increased performance and a more aggressive sound and that led to the decision to go ahead with the new regulations. We listened to our fans and wanted to react.”
Q: How did the collaboration work out with the teams and the FIA?
“Once the strategy was agreed, it was embraced whole-heartedly by all parties and a lot of positive energy has gone into the development of the new cars from all sides. It was a very constructive process with major contributions from the FIA and especially from the teams. As you can imagine, it’s a big investment for teams to develop these new cars. There have been many hours of work for engineers and a lot of testing, but it’s extremely satisfying to see how enthusiastically the teams have responded.”
Q: How will new regulations help promote the WRC?
“We’re extremely confident that these regulations are the way forward. We’ve already seen from testing that the 2017 World Rally Cars look extremely dynamic. Add this look to additional power and increased performance, and it will create a real ‘wow’ effect, bringing the wide-eyed response we want to generate from the fans and also on television.”
Q: Do you think this new era might attract more manufacturers to the WRC?
“There’s a hugely positive feeling towards WRC from manufacturers in general. In 2017 we’ll have five of the 10 biggest car manufacturers in the world choosing WRC for their global motorsport activities, and that’s a big compliment to the development of our sport. They recognise the sport is moving forward quickly, and that WRC gives them a great opportunity to showcase the power, strength and qualities of their production-based cars in an environment that gives them global visibility from January to November. Will that attract new entrants? I don’t know, but we’re talking to other car manufacturers and we’ve had a lot of encouraging feedback and genuine enthusiasm from the recent developments.”
Q: How do the teams feel about starting afresh in 2017?
“We’re all excited and you can sense that excitement among the teams and in the service park. Everyone is talking about the 2017 World Rally Car and these new regulations could be a way forward to balance the sport at the beginning of a new era. New and returning manufacturers and established teams alike are all building new cars and must start from pretty much the same point. So maybe this will balance the sporting results and make WRC even more exciting.”