For fans of professional rally racing, the heyday of insane rally cars were the legendary monsters that emerged from the downright dangerous era of Group B of the 1980’s. Those cars were bulgy, mustachioed, firebreathing turbo terrors where power figures north of 500 hp was the norm. Sadly, tighter rules were imposed after the ever-faster cars began to cause more crashes, injuring both drivers and spectators. As a result, World Rally Championship (WRC) cars are now much closer to their factory counterparts more and more, with power currently capped at 315 hp. Now, new regulations from the World Motorsport Council open the field up to wilder and more powerful cars for the 2017 season.
For the 2017 season, WRC cars are permitted to wear a more expansive aerodynamic package, including a much larger rear spoiler, longer front and rear overhangs, and an increase in overall car length, which is now at a maximum of 153.5 inches. The maximum allowable rear track has been increased by 2.1 inches, with wheels enclosed by ridiculously large box flares that can extend out to an overall width of 73 inches.
Better yet, the 1.6-liter turbo-four engines get a power boost as well, from 315 hp up to around 380 hp in top trim thanks to smaller turbo restrictors. The WRC cars get faster still, with a 55-lb reduction in the minimum weight. Maximum allowable turbo pressure is unchanged at around 36 psi.
The result of all these changes? 2017 WRC cars will be faster, wider, better looking, and more fun to watch. As World Rally Champion Sébastien Ogier said in a statement, “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.”