WRC post Loeb - what hope?
Wednesday 17th October 2012
Mini and Ford out, Hyundai and VW in but what does Loeb's legacy really mean?
sheer brilliance that formed their basis. That seems unfair, but close competition is what makes any sporting pursuit captivating. In the short term, then, Loeb’s period of rule over the WRC will absolutely do harm to the series, but you hope that in years and decades to come we can look back at this era with nostalgia and a sense of romance, some degree of satisfaction that we were fortunate enough to witness something that will likely never be bettered as long as the WRC survives, in whatever shape or form that may be.
Hopefully we can eventually look back on Loeb’s success with the same fondness we do the spectacle of Group B.
handful of rallies at least we’ll still have a benchmark by which to judge all other competitors.
But if Loeb wins all the rallies he enters next season it’ll be hard to believe that the eventual World Champion is the best rally driver in the world. Regardless, the WRC will have a new champion in 2013 and for some that’ll be akin to progress.
Hyundai’s commitment to the series from 2014 is also extremely positive. Far Eastern manufacturers have historically invested much in the series – think Toyota, Mitsubishi and Subaru – to the immeasurable benefit of the sport’s fans, but the WRC has lacked an Eastern entrant since Subaru quit in 2008. We can expect a whole new demographic of fans to be attracted to the series once Hyundai’s i20 WRC hits the stages.
So Loeb is on his way out, the promotion of the series seems to be in trustworthy hands and new manufacturers are taking an interest. On the flip side, both Mini and Ford have canned their involvement as factory entrants; a huge blow given that things really were looking up, but such is the state of the European new car market. We can find some solace in the knowledge that Prodrive and M-Sport will at least continue to run privately funded Mini and Ford Fiesta World Rally Cars in 2014.
VW and Hyundai fielding works cars, leaving us with a series contested by two manufacturers – just as it has been for the last four seasons.
These remain uncertain times for the World Rally Championship, but there have been many meaningful changes of late and change is inarguably better than stagnation.