Each new WRC season is accompanied by updates to the rules and regulations that govern the sport. This year is no exception, so here's our summary of the FIA-sanctioned changes that will be introduced in 2017.
1) Start order reshuffle
Arguably the most important change concerns the order in which drivers will tackle stages in 2017.
In 2016, leading drivers started in championship order for days one and two before switching to a reverse event classification on day three.
This year, drivers will start in championship order for day one only.
On days two and three, P1 drivers [see below] will start in the reverse order of rally classification at the end of the previous day. This group will be followed by any P1 drivers re-starting under Rally 2 regulations, and then the rest of the field in straight classification order.
The day one start order of the season-opening Rallye Monte-Carlo will be based on the 2016 championship classification.
2) A more valuable Power Stage
First introduced in 2011, the Power Stage offers bonus championship points to the fastest drivers through Sunday lunchtime’s rally-closing live TV stage.
Up to now, the three fastest drivers have been awarded points on a 3-2-1 basis. This year there's more to play for. The stage winner will be rewarded with five points, with the five fastest drivers taking points on a 5-4-3-2-1 basis.
3) Manufacturer nominations
Manufacturers previously nominated two drivers per rally to score points. In 2017 they will instead nominate three, with the top two finishers scoring manufacturer points.
Also, manufacturers are no longer required to nominate one lead driver at the start of the season.
4) New driver definitions
The FIA has changed some of the priority class definitions that apply to championship drivers. You'll see these on every rally entry list. Here's what they mean in 2017:
P1: Drivers of World Rally Cars either entered by a manufacturer [i.e 2017-spec] or entered in the WRC Trophy [for earlier-spec cars]
P2: Drivers entered by a competitor eligible to score points in the WRC 2 Championship
P3: Drivers entered by a competitor eligible to score points in the WRC 3 and/or Junior WRC Championships