Why no one cares about the WRC anymore

How the most exciting of motorsports won the world.. and then lost it

44w ago

2.4K

Motorsport is an integral part of the automotive world. Think of all the memorable moments we still talk about. James Hunt's F1 championship, Dale Earnheardt's crash at the final lap of the Daytona 500 in 2001, Jason Plato flipping Matt Neal off at Rockingham. Okay, maybe not the last one but you get the idea. And which sport provided some of the greatest spectacles, and on every surface for that matter? Yes, rallying, one of the most impressive acts of motorsport, consistently offered us memorable moments. Who can forget the battles of such great drivers as Carlos Sainz, Ari Vatanen or Walter Röhrl in machines that could go flat out on every surface? The WRC was always the go-to place for breath taking highlights and then... everything stopped. For the better part of fifteen years rallying has been losing its appeal and its audience. In other words, the WRC has fallen from the top, and the worst bit about that is that no one has really noticed.

Take a look at 2003, in what some consider the last great year of rallying. You have many manufacturer's with mostly equal opportunities (unless you're Hyundai or Skoda) of winning the Manufacturer's title and of course you have highly charismatic drivers with bucket loads of raw talent and with personalities almost as loud as the cars they're driving. Think Colin McRae, Marcus Grönholm or Gilles Panizzi; think "bigger than life". And then to top it all off you have memorable rallies and locations with fans that love the sport as much as they love seeing the cars blast through mud and rocks. Who can say that rallies like the one in Monte Carlo or the Acropolis aren't iconic? Then think of what is happening today...

2003 World Champion, Petter Solberg

2003 World Champion, Petter Solberg

After 2004 things changed though. Sebastian Loeb's domination that lasted till the early 2010s played a huge part in the drop of interest and like that wasn't enough car makers were abandoning the ship one after the other. In 2005 Peugeot and Mitsubishi left and in 2008 Subaru shockingly said goobye too. Yes, Suzuki might have joined in 2008 but I'm sure you barely remembered that to begin with. In what was the lowest point of the sport, sometime in 2009, Citroen and Peugeot were the only two manufacturer's on the championship.

But that on its own didn't kill the interest of fans. What ultimately managed that was the lack of drivers with personalities and rallies in locations that had no actual fans, like in Turkey or Indonesia. Opening up to new markets is one thing. Completely giving up on established locations in favor of new ones is a different one though and it can only be described as a foolish business decision at best. And the drivers? Tell me if you'll remember anything Dani Sordo did in 10 years time or if Ott Tänak's title reign will be as memorable as anything Richard Burns or Tommi Mäkinen ever did..

The WRC Hyundai i20 used in 2019

The WRC Hyundai i20 used in 2019

And that only leaves one variable. The cars. The new crop of gravel beasts is indeed better than ever, with hints of the long lost Group B cars. They have the grip and the looks to match their ridiculous speeds and it's a great shame their drivers, while extremely talented and capable, are just so... well... bland. I know that times are moving on but if there's one reason people are still interested in Formula 1 it's because of people like Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel; people with both presence and tremendous talent.

If we want to be honest, WRC has all the tools to be something great. More interesting characters might join the sport and the new locations will eventually create a new generation of fans, but the true question is whether the fans want to return to the WRC after such a long time of sheer blandness and of constant disappointments. Only time will tell but so far things are not looking good..

What do you think? Is the WRC still interesting or does it desperately need some deep changes? Share your opinion in the comments!

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Comments (39)

  • When you follow the individual drivers on instagram you do see their personalities. Which leads me straight to the main problem. You have to go digging for it. WRC's media management is ancient and horrible. Say what you will about liberty media but they've made F1 available and accessible for everyone to see. Meanwhile at WRC most stuff is locked behind a pay-wall. The cars are the fastest they've ever been. They're properly insane. We just cant see them the same way we can watch F1 races, highlights, paddock interviews, behind the scenes, etc...

      10 months ago
    • Dude its ridiculous, all the (actually good, not the rushed out Youtube videos) highlights, BTS, and interviews are locked behind the paywall, and even so they're only about the WRC class and MAYBE sometimes WRC2 Pro. Besides making that...

      Read more
        10 months ago
  • Improve the media coverage - can’t find it at all in the US

      10 months ago
  • I think the type of car may be a reason. Think Group B . You had Audi Quattro Lancia Stratos, Ford RS 200.

    Now you have Toyota Yaris ,

    Hyundai i20 and Ford Festiva.

    I know they are fast, but they are based on cars that have never excited anyone, anywhere, anytime.

    Just a theory.

      10 months ago
    • I don't think it's the cars really. If you look back at the mid to late 90s and early 00s the Ford Escort or the Peugeot 206 weren't the most exciting cars yet they created some of the best moments out there.

        10 months ago
  • I think the current Gen 3 WRC cars very cool , but to see the WRC's from the C segment . Make a fix place in the calender for the heritage Rallys . I think it to Monaco , UK , Sweden , Italy , Germany , Spain , France , Finland . I'm happy about to Kenya come back but we don't need a 'rubish events' like Chile & Turkey . Bring back the Acropolis Rally , Rajd Polski or make a WRC round in Estonia ( the stages have a same caracteristic like Finland ) .

      10 months ago
    • Exactly my points. They just have "new" events and don't even bother covering them well. It's a shame and they don't seem to listen. But the cars really are cool. The coolest since Group B in my opinion

        10 months ago
    • Like a modern Gr.B but the current regulations don't have a technical freedome . I'm very intereseted about how the Hybrid Powertrains suits for this machines .

        10 months ago
  • WRC stopped existing in the US when the Speed Channel went away. Their coverage was awesome.

      10 months ago
    • Their media coverage can be described as poor at the very best. Just follow the format of F1 or Formula E and you would have a killer product since rallying is indeed fun to watch if done properly

        10 months ago

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