Wild new look for WRC cars in 2017

Published: 13 July 2015

New WRC technical regs for 2017
Cars to get wider bodies, more power
Artist’s impression suggests wild looks

Front-running World Rally Championship (WRC) cars could be set for a dramatic new look in 2017. The WRC will get a shiny new set of technical regulations for 2017, and the sport’s organisers have released this artist’s impression suggesting that the new regs could result in far more flamboyant-looking machinery taking to the stages.  

Big wings, big vents and roof scoops? It’s the ’80s all over again

The admittedly rather exaggerated illustration, which takes a Ford Fiesta as its (loose) starting point, suggests an enormously wide track, with the wheels housed in bodywork extensions standing far proud of the main shell, and outsized rear wing.

The new regulations were approved in a meeting of the FIA world motor sport council in Mexico City on Friday 10 July. They include a new aerodynamic package which allows a much bigger rear spoiler, longer front and rear overhangs, and a 55mm increase in the permitted width. The illustration perhaps uses a little artistic licence in its interpretation of the latter.

So the cars will look faster. Will they go faster too?

They will. Power will jump from the current cars’ 315bhp or thereabouts to around 380bhp courtesy of an increase in turbo restrictor size and there’ll be a 25kg reduction in minimum weight.

Electronically controlled differentials will no longer be outlawed (sophisticated mechanical diffs are nearly as expensive to make, and cause similar damage to stage surfaces).

Why the new regs?

According to FIA technical director Bernard Niclot, for three main reasons:

‘[To] make the car spectacular, be mindful of costs, and maintain, if not increase safety. The cars will be striking, there is no doubt about that, and there are small but always significant improvements in relation to safety’ he says.

The current breed of WRC cars are nimble and devastatingly effective but have come under criticism from some quarters for rewarding drivers with the neatest, tidiest, and, essentially, less dramatic styles, and viewing figures are far lower than the FIA – and competing manufacturers – would like to see.

Current world champ Sébastien Ogier believes the new-generation cars will be more spectacular to watch:

‘As a racing driver you are always looking for more performance. I think the larger wing and new aerodynamics will give the car a bit more downforce, more grip and more speed going into the corners.

‘This is also good for the show, because the extra power will definitely make the driving more spectacular for the fans. And it will also make the car look a bit more aggressive with a wider body,” he says.

One of the new teams on the block in 2017 will be Toyota, making a return to the WRC with a car based on the Yaris. Click here to read more about Toyota’s WRC return.

By James Taylor

CAR's deputy features editor, occasional racer

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