Dynamic new-look rally cars have provided the most gripping and unpredictable opening to the FIA World Rally Championship for more than 30 years.
The introduction of more powerful and aggressive World Rally Cars for 2017 has been rewarded with four thrilling opening encounters which have provided drama and excitement aplenty.
Four different drivers representing four manufacturers and four nationalities claimed the winner’s laurels in those opening four fixtures.
Sébastien Ogier made a dream start to his M-Sport career with victory in Monte-Carlo before Jari-Matti Latvala provided Toyota Gazoo Racing with victory in Sweden on only its second rally back in the WRC after a 17-year absence.
Citroën’s Kris Meeke ended a miserable start to his season with victory in Mexico, despite almost throwing it away when he crashed into a spectator car park 750 metres from the finish. Then Thierry Neuville ended his victory curse, after twice crashing out of the lead in previous rounds, by mastering Corsica’s mountain asphalt roads for Hyundai Motorsport.
It was 1986 when the WRC enjoyed a similarly unpredictable start to a season and sets up one of the most open title fights for many years.
The four winners gathered in Villa Carlos Paz on Wednesday afternoon to celebrate the landmark ahead of YPF Rally Argentina, round five of 13, which starts in the resort town on Thursday evening.
WRC Promoter managing director Oliver Ciesla said the new cars, developed to upgraded regulations from a blank sheet of paper, had made a huge impact in a short space of time.
“We knew these cars would be exciting. Their macho appearance and increased performance are bringing smiles to fans’ faces, whether they’re watching stage side or on television,” he said.
“Pre-season there was a great feeling of unpredictability because nobody knew which teams, cars or drivers would set the pace.
“What we have witnessed so far has been exceptional with drama seemingly awaiting around every turn. The only thing I can advise fans for the rest of the season is to expect the unexpected!” he added.