WRC ORLEN 80th Rally Poland
Poland
Starts: Thursday, June 27, 2024 at 8:00:00 AM
ERC Bauhaus Royal Rally of Scandinavia
Sweden
Starts: Thursday, June 13, 2024 at 12:00:00 PM
Ferratum World RX of Sweden 1
Sweden
Starts: Saturday, July 6, 2024 at 6:00:00 AM

Wed 10 Jan 2024

When WRC drivers switched teams - and won!

WRC.com recaps some remarkable victories after drivers changed teams, including memorable triumphs by Auriol, Sainz, Mäkinen, Grönholm, and Loeb.

Didier Auriol: Monte-Carlo 1993

Didier Auriol took 11 wins for Lancia between 1989 and 1992, but it wasn’t enough to stop him leaving for Toyota, which had just won the drivers’ title with Carloz Sainz. Auriol replaced the Spaniard in the team for 1993, essentially swapping places with ‘El Matador’.

 

Auriol headed to the season's first round in Monaco as one of the favourites, despite limited time spent in his Celica before the first stage got under way.

 

The Frenchman held the lead over François Delecour’s Ford Escort Cosworth by just two seconds heading into the final stage, but a storming drive saw him win it by 13 seconds and claim his third Monte Carlo victory.

© McKlein

Carlos Sainz: Monte-Carlo 1998
Carloz Sainz returned to Toyota having previously celebrated two championship titles with the team at the start of the decade. For 1998, the Japanese outfit debuted its new Corolla in Monte Carlo ahead of another title push.

 

The Spaniard’s consistency saw him take his third win in the principality, and despite winning just only one stage on his way to maximum points, he claimed a comfortable 40-second victory over team-mate Juha Kankkunen.

 

Harri Rovanperä: Sweden 2001
Harri Rovanperä struggled for opportunities in his early WRC Career. Time at SEAT and privateer outings yielded only two podiums in seven seasons, but in 2001 Peugeot gave the Finn an opportunity to share a season with Gilles Panizzi.

 

Rovanperä drove with skill and precision to master the icy roads of Rally Sweden, taking two stage wins - and the victory – by nearly half a minute on his Peugeot debut. Despite taking 15 career podiums, this was his one and only time on the top step of the rostrum.

© McKlein


Tommi Mäkinen: Monte-Carlo 2002
Tommi Mäkinen won four world championships with Mitsubishi, a partnership which delivered 22 wins over seven seasons. But, after a tougher 2001, the Finn switched allegiance to Subaru.

 

Mäkinen claimed two stage wins and was on course to finish Rally Monte Carlo in second position behind Sebastien Loeb’s Citroën. However, the Frenchman’s win was taken from him four days after the rally finished, when he received a two-minute time penalty for an improper tyre change.

 

Loeb’s loss was Mäkinen’s gain, winning on debut for his new team and making him, at the time, the most successful WRC driver in history. It would ultimately be his 24th and final triumph at the sports’ top-level, cementing an incredible career.

 

Marcus Grönholm: Monte-Carlo 2006
Marcus Grönholm enjoyed huge success over seven seasons with Peugeot, including two world championship titles at the start of the new millennium. But after winning just twice in 2005, the Finn made the decision to join the rejuvenated Ford World Rally Team.

 

And he and co-driver ​​Timo Rautiainen took a commanding win to start their season in style, beating Sébastien Loeb to victory in Monte-Carlo by over a minute to mark Ford’s first win for more than two years and Gronholm’s maiden victory on asphalt.

© McKlein


Sébastien Ogier: Monte-Carlo 2017
Already a four-time world champion, Sébastien Ogier was looking for a drive following Volkswagen’s departure from the sport in 2016.

 

Four consecutive titles gave the Frenchman the pick of the field, where he settled on a new relationship with Malcolm Wilson’s M-Sport Ford squad - a team that had not won a rally since 2012.

 

Ogier, as usual, was on fire throughout the season-opening Rallye Monte Carlo. He took three stage wins in a Fiesta en-route to an emotional victory.

 

Sébastien Loeb: Monte-Carlo 2022
Nine-time world champion Sebastien Loeb returned to the WRC in 2022 with M-Sport on a selected schedule.

 

The team had struggled for success since his great rival Ogier left in 2018, but despite more than a year away from the sport and having turned 47 years old, Loeb was on fine form in the brand-new Ford Puma.

 

Six stage wins saw him heading into the Wolf Power Stage with Ogier less than 10 seconds behind, but he and co-driver Isabelle Galmiche held on to win - her first WRC victory, and Loeb’s 80th – making the Frenchman the oldest driver in history to win at rallying’s the top level.