The last round of the 2016 World Rally Championship season took place at the weekend, with Volkswagen’s Andreas Mikkelsen claiming his second win of the season from his team-mate and World Champion Sebastien Ogier. It was an eventful season and here are some of the main talking points from the season.
Volkswagen Ends Reign with Title – But What Now?
News broke earlier in the season that Volkswagen, who had dominated for the past four seasons they have been in the WRC, would be withdrawing the Polo R WRC programme for 2017 and instead would focus on building a new R5 specification car. It has definitely been a successful era for the German team, with 42 wins from 53 events. However, their quick withdrawal from the sport has left their three drivers: Ogier, Mikkelsen and Jari-Matti Latvala, without drives for next season. Given that the majority of the top teams have already confirmed their lineups, could we see any of the three sitting out of the top tier of rallying for 2017?
Hyundai Impress as M-Sport Struggle
The 2016 season has been the most successful ever for the Hyundai team, with the new i20 second only to the Volkswagen Polo. Thierry Neuville finished as runner-up ahead of Mikkelsen, whilst Haydon Paddon won his maiden WRC event en route to 4th with Dani Sordo claiming 5th. Citroen also had a considerably good season despite only taking part in a handful of events. Kris Meeke won twice in 2016 but inconsistency kept him from finishing higher than 9th and Craig Breen and Stephane Lefebvre impressed too. On the other side of the spectrum, M-Sport had a largely disappointing season. The Ford wasn’t fast enough to keep pace with the other cars and Mads Ostberg took only two podiums and 7th overall. Eric Camilli showed some pace when he wasn’t crashing, but the team will hope for better fortunes in 2017.
Cancellations Give Organisers Headache
The season didn’t come without its dramas though, some of which affected the itinerary of events. Rally Sweden had to be shortened drastically due to the snow and ice surface melting to reveal gravel roads, whilst dust worries cancelled some stages of Rally Australia. The biggest casualty though was Rally China, which was meant to be back for the first time since 1999, but had to be cancelled entirely due to the summer floods that destroyed parts of the country. Next season’s provisional calendar sees 12 of the 14 2016 rounds included, with the exception of Poland and China. However a couple of rallies are under consideration, including Turkey and a new rally in the UAE.
Support Categories Report
In the WRC-2 category, Esapekka Lappi snatched the title from countryman Teemu Suninen with a victory on Rally Australia. Four wins from seven events he took part in meant he won the class by 10 points, with Welshman Elfyn Evans finishing on the same number of points as Suninen but missing out on the runner-up spot on count back. WRC-3 was even tighter; Michel Fabre technically finished as winner of the category but after dropping an 8th place finish, Simone Tempestini took a sensational victory by just a single point. Tempestini also won the Junior WRC category in the process. Finally, there was a win in the Drive DMACK Fiesta Trophy for R2-spec Fiestas for Osian Pryce.
WRC Drivers’ Standings
|1||Sebastien Ogier||Volkswagen Polo R WRC||268|
|2||Thierry Neuville||Hyundai i20 WRC||160|
|3||Andreas Mikkelsen||Volkswagen Polo R WRC||154|
|4||Hayden Paddon||Hyundai i20 WRC||138|
|5||Dani Sordo||Hyundai i20 WRC||130|
|6||Jari-Matti Latvala||Volkswagen Polo R WRC||112|
|7||Mads Ostberg||Ford Fiesta WRC||102|
|8||Ott Tanak||Ford Fiesta WRC||88|
|9||Kris Meeke||Citroen DS3 WRC||64|
|10||Craig Breen||Citroen DS3 WRC||36|
WRC Manufacturers’ Standings
|3||Volkswagen Motorsport II||163|
|4||M-Sport World Rally Team||162|
|5||Hyundai Motorsport N||146|
|6||DMACK World Rally Team||98|
|7||Jipocar Czech National Team||18|