World rally cars that ruled the dirt roads

World rally cars that ruled the dirt roads

Citroen DS3, Picture credit: Tiago Fernandes

Rallying is considered by many as the true form of motorsport. This is so because, unlike in track racing, the surface conditions can change because rallying is mostly run on mud or loose gravel.

Normal road cars are modified to technical regulations that are laid down by the International Automobile Federation (FIA). Humble road cars are transformed into mean rallying machines and they have brought glory to man, machine and the manufacturer too.

DH looks at some famous cars that did well in the World Rally Championship.

Citroen Xsara, C4 and DS3
One of the most successful teams to ever take part in the World Rally Championship when it comes to a combination of driver and manufacturer world championships won over the years. Frenchman Sebastien Loeb won a total of nine driver titles from the 2004 to 2012 seasons and with various Citroen models. He is the most successful driver in WRC history. For three seasons from 2004, he won the driver title in a Xsara (2 litre turbocharged) car, from 2007-10 in a C4 (2 litre naturally aspirated) and in 2011 and 2012 in a DS3 (1.6 litre turbocharged engine).

In addition to this, Citroen won eight manufacturer titles between 2003 and 2012.

Lancia Delta and Stratos

Lancia Delta, Picture credit: tomislav medak

This Italian manufacturer won 10 manufacturers’ titles between 1974 and 1992. Lancia drivers have won five titles in the WRC. Italian Sandro Munari (Lancia Stratos, 2.5 litre engine) won the driver title in 1977, Finn Juha Kankunnen (Lancia Delta, 2.5 litre engine) won in 1987 and 91, while Italian Miki Biasion won titles in a Delta in 88 and 89.  

Volkswagen Polo

Volkswagen Polo WRC, Picture credit: Volkswagen Motorsport

The German manufacturer entered the World Rally Championship in 2013 and with the Polo (1.6 litre turbocharged engine), broke the highly successful run of the Citroen factory team. Their driver Sebastien Ogier (France) won four driver titles from 2013 and Volkswagen won the manufacturer titles in the same years.  

Peugeot 206 WRC

Peugeot 206, Picture credit: Christopher Batt

Finn Marcus Gronholm won driver titles in 2000 and 2002 in this 2 litre car. Peugeot won the manufacturer title in 2001, 02 and 03.

Toyota Celica GT-4

Toyota Celica 4WD, Picture credit: Brian Snelson

This car, with a 2 litre turbocharged engine, was the first non-European car that entered the WRC with an all-wheel driven system and was successful. Toyota won their driver titles through Spaniard Carlos Sainz (90 and 92), while Kankunnen won in 93 and Frenchman Didier Auriol in 94. Toyota’s manufacturer titles were in 93 and 94 with the Celica and 99 with the Corolla. Toyota returned to WRC in 2018 and won the manufacturer title with the Yaris car.

Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution

Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX, Picture credit: Bob Bob

Though this Japanese manufacturer won only one manufacturer title in 1998, Finn Tommi Makinen won four driver titles for the team in the Evolution from 96 to 99 in this 2 litre engine. After that, they have not seen much success except in the Asia-Pacific Rally Championship.

Ford Escort, Focus and Fiesta

Ford Fiesta, Picture credit: M-Sport Ford World Rally Team

Ford have had recent success and Ogier won driver titles in 2017 and 18 in the Fiesta WRC (1.6 litre turbocharged engine) and through the M-Sport Ford World Rally Team. Their only two other driver titles were with the Ford Escort (1.8 litre engine) in 79 through Finn Bjorn Waldegard and Finn Ari Vatanen in 81. Their manufacturer title successes were in 79 (Ford Escort), 2006 and 07 (Ford Focus) and 2017 (Fiesta).

Subaru Impreza

Subaru Impreza, Picture credit: Brian Snelson

This was another famous Japanese 2 litre rally cars that had a bit of success in the WRC. Scotsman Colin McRae won the driver title in 95, while Englishman Richard Burns won in 2001 and Norwegian Petter Solberg won in 2003. Subaru World Rally Team won manufacturer titles from 95-97.

Audi Quattro

Audi Quattro, Picture credit: Tony Harrison

Audi created a sensation when they came into the WRC with a four-wheel drive car that had a 2.1 litre turbocharged engine. Finn Hannu Mikola and Swede Stig Blomqvist won the driver titles in 83 and 84 respectively. Audi won the manufacturer title in 82 and 84.

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