Consequences of the increased rally car performance of the new 2017 World Rally Car are starting to become apparent.
The most spectacular was the disappearance of the complete rear wing assembly on Mads Ostberg’s Fiesta, demonstrating that the new aero rules have subjected WRC cars to much greater forces than before.
This was confirmed by M-Sport who confirmed: “This is the first time we’ve seen anything like this and the engineers are looking into it. We’re still continuing with the investigation”.
Then there were indications that the 2017 cars are now far more sensitive to conditions than 2016 cars, notably the way that several drivers, including both the Citroen C3 drivers and M-Sport driver Ott Tanak, reported handling problems when conditions became even slightly warmer on the final morning.
M-Sport suggested, however, this may not be new, adding that: “Already last year we saw this with a number of drivers across a number of teams when, on some stages, they just ‘don’t have the feeling’.”
This is the suggested reason why Tanak did not make his expected late challenge for victory.
Then comes the official concern about the inevitable increase in speeds on the stages, evidenced at Monte Carlo Rally first by the dramatic off road moment for Dani Sordo, when his Hyundai i20 Coupe’s power steering failed in a high speed bend.
Then in Sweden the matter of average stage speeds arose again, this time with the reaction of the FIA officials who ordered the cancellation of the second run through stage 9 after Ott Tanak’s Fiesta averaged 137.8km/h.
Three years ago the FIA took no action in Poland when the stage in which the fastest driver recorded an average of 133.2km/h, and the second time through the stage the speed was 136.9km/h.
- Martin Holmes