WRC

2002 season preview

2002 FIA World Rally Championship Welcome to a new season of world rallying. The official launch of the 2002 World Rally Championship was held in Monte Carlo today and announced some major changes in the promotion of rallying. You can certainly...

2002 FIA World Rally Championship
Welcome to a new season of world rallying.

The official launch of the 2002 World Rally Championship was held in Monte Carlo today and announced some major changes in the promotion of rallying. You can certainly expect to see more rallying on TV where-ever you are in the world.

The first event of the season, the Rallye Monte Carlo starts this Friday.

LATEST NEWS

Seven manufacturers' teams have been registered, six of them engaged to enter every event and the seventh (Citroen, who were new to the series in 2001 and entitled to a progressively bigger programme) will enter seven. Taking into account the manufacturers active in the FIA Junior World Rally Championship, no fewer than twelve manufacturers will be involved in the 2002 FIA World Rally Championship, with three of them in both the full and the Junior Championship.

Several important changes have been introduced into the FIA World Championship for 2002:

- Every team must nominate two drivers who are committed to competing on all fourteen events, with the possibility of entering a third car for a specialist additional driver from event to event. Thus manufacturers can enter either two or three cars to be eligible for manufacturers points on each event, but only the best two crews from each team will score points for manufacturers championship purposes. A third entry to finish however will gain points in the driver's championship.

- Six of the 14 events will also be the qualifying rounds for the FIA Junior World Rally Championship for Super 1600 cars (results from all six events to count) and the other eight will be for the FIA Production Car World Rally Championship for Drivers (Group N cars). Entrants for this championship had to nominate in advance the six events on which they wish to score points. As previously announced the Teams Cup series will not take place.

- Major technological advances are planned regarding safety measures as well as tracking and timing systems, aimed at more immediate results feedback.

- For promotional as well as logistical reasons, a maximum number of 90 crews is planned for events. This number is to be broken down into 30 championship crews with World Rally Cars, 5 invited drivers, 30 with the Junior World Rally, or Production Championship cars and the others at the discretion of the organisers.

No new FIA World Rally car designs are expected in 2002. The most important debuts will be the FIA Junior Rally Championship cars from Rover-MG and Opel. Suzuki are entering FIA World Championship events for the first time. The only team expected to introduce 2002 evolution versions of their FIA World Rally cars at the start of the season is Ford. In an interesting move, Volvo are to be officially represented in the FIA World Rally Championship as suppliers of the registered reconnaissance and gravel note cars for the M-Sport Ford team.

NEWS FROM THE TEAMS

TEAM PEUGEOT TOTAL
(2001 FIA World Rally Champions, regular drivers in 2002: Richard Burns and Marcus Gronholm. Additional drivers include Gilles Panizzi and Harri Rovanpera)

No new evolution version is due to appear during the season, and there will be few changes of major significance. Changes are to be based on chassis strengthening.

FORD MOTOR COMPANY
(2nd in 2001: Carlos Sainz and Colin McRae. Regular third driver Markko Martin, additional driver Francois Duval)

The 2002 version will feature many changes including revised engine and turbocharger pieces. Main corporate change: new chief engineer is Christian Loriaux (ex Subaru) Ford are due to announce a major new additional sponsor on the 10th January.

TEAM MALBORO MITSUBISHI RALLIART
(3rd in 2001: Francois Delecour and Alister McRae. Additional drivers to include Jani Paasonen)

No date has yet been announced for the debut of 2002 version which will feature revised engine installation and necessary revised transmission casing.

SUBARU WORLD RALLY TEAM
(4th in 2001, Tommi Makinen and Petter Solberg. No additional drivers yet announced)

Corsica is expected to see the debut of the 2002 version, mainly for the engine and turbo while more radical changes are expected for 2003. Corporate move: new chief engineer, Pierre-Yves Genon, replaces Loriaux.

SKODA MOTORSPORT
(5th in 2001, Kenneth Eriksson and Toni Gardemeister. Additional drivers alternate between Stig Blomqvist and Roman Kresta. A supporting fourth car to be run on nine events by David Sutton Cars for Gabriel Pozzo)

Most urgent design changes are expected to concern the engine while active rear differential design is under active consideration. No date has yet been given for debut of 2002 evolution.

HYUNDAI CASTROL WORLD RALLY TEAM
(6th in 2001, Armin Schwarz and Freddy Loix. Additional driver Juha Kankkunen)

Third evolution Accent expected to appear in Corsica with engine changes and active rear differential. The 2002 version is also expected to feature revised suspension geometry. Semi-automatic gearshifts are being considered.

AUTOMOBILES CITROEN
(not classified in 2001, Thomas Radstrom and Sebastien Loeb. Additional driver Philippe Bugalski)

Electronic improvements expected to be the most significant changes to the design of their cars. No 2002 evolution version is anticipated.

JUNIOR AND PRODUCTION CAR NEWS
28 and 26 drivers respectively have been registered for competition in their categories in 2002. In neither series is it necessary to nominate the type of car to be used, but it is known that cars from eight different manufacturers will be active in the FIA Junior Championship. In addition to Citroen, Fiat, Ford and Peugeot used in 2001, there will also be Suzuki (the car as used in the FIA Asia Pacific Championship in 2001), Volkswagen (homologated at the end of 2001 in time for a non-championship appearance on the Network Q) and newly homologated cars from Rover-MG and Opel.

The Peugeot 106 Maxi was homologated retrospectively for the purposes of the British championship, but is still not accepted as an eligible car for use under 2002 rules. The Citroen Saxo however has been homologated with a new flywheel and clutch so as to be fully compliant with the 2002 rules. The next Super 1600 car due to be homologated is the Renault Clio. Mitsubishi cars are to be used by a very high majority of Group N drivers.

-www.worldrallychampionship.com-

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Series WRC
Teams Citroën World Rally Team , M-Sport