2021 World Rally Championship

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Sébastien Ogier won his eighth drivers' championship title.
Julien Ingrassia won his eighth co-drivers' championship title.
Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT (Yaris WRC pictured) claimed the manufacturers' title.

The 2021 FIA World Rally Championship was the forty-ninth season of the World Rally Championship, an auto racing competition recognised by the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) as the highest class of international rallying. Teams and crews are competing in twelve rallies for the World Rally Championships for Drivers, Co-drivers and Manufacturers. Crews were free to compete in cars complying with World Rally Car, Rally Pyramid and some Group R regulations; however, only manufacturers competing with World Rally Cars homologated under regulations introduced in 2017 were eligible to score points in the Manufacturers' championship.[1] The championship began in January 2021 with the Rallye Monte-Carlo and concluded in November 2021 with Rally Monza. The series was supported by the World Rally Championship-2 and World Rally Championship-3 categories at every round of the championship and by the Junior World Rally Championship at selected events.[2]

Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia were the defending drivers' and co-drivers' champions, having secured their seventh championship titles at the 2020 Rally Monza. Hyundai were the defending manufacturers' champions and were defending their manufacturers' title for the second consecutive year.

At the conclusion of the championship, Ogier and Ingrassia won their eighth world titles after winning the 2021 Rally Monza. Elfyn Evans and Scott Martin finished second, trailing by twenty-three points. Thierry Neuville and Martijn Wydaeghe were third, a further thirty-one points behind. In the manufacturers' championship, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT clinched the title, a massive fifty-nine-point lead over the defending manufacturer champion Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT, with M-Sport Ford WRT in third.

Calendar[edit]

A map showing the locations of the rallies in the 2021 championship. Scheduled events are in green, while cancelled events are in blue. Event headquarters are marked with a black dot.

The 2021 championship was contested over twelve rounds in Europe and Africa:

Round Start date Finish date Rally Rally headquarters Surface Stages Distance Ref.
1 21 January 24 January Monaco Rallye Automobile Monte Carlo Gap, Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur[a] Mixed[b] 14 257.64 km [3]
2 26 February 28 February Finland Arctic Rally Finland Rovaniemi, Lapland Snow 10 251.08 km [4]
3 22 April 25 April Croatia Croatia Rally Zagreb Tarmac 20 300.32 km [5]
4 20 May 23 May Portugal Rally de Portugal Matosinhos, Porto Gravel 20 337.51 km [6]
5 3 June 6 June Italy Rally Italia Sardegna Alghero, Sardinia Gravel 20 303.10 km [7]
6 24 June 27 June Kenya Safari Rally Kenya Nairobi Gravel 18 320.19 km [8]
7 15 July 18 July Estonia Rally Estonia Tartu, Tartu County Gravel 24 314.16 km [9]
8 13 August 15 August Belgium Ypres Rally Belgium Ypres, West Flanders Tarmac 20 295.78 km [10]
9 9 September 12 September Greece Acropolis Rally Greece Lamia, Central Greece Gravel 15 292.19 km [11]
10 1 October 3 October Finland Rally Finland Jyväskylä, Central Finland Gravel 19 287.11 km [12]
11 14 October 17 October Spain RACC Rally Catalunya de España Salou, Catalonia Tarmac 17 280.46 km [13]
12 18 November 21 November Italy ACI Rally Monza Monza, Lombardy Tarmac 16 253.18 km [14]
Sources:[15][16][17][18][19]

The following rounds were included on the original calendar published by WRC Promoter GmbH, but were later cancelled:

Start date Finish date Rally Rally headquarters Surface Stages Distance Cancellation reason Ref.
11 February 14 February Sweden Rally Sweden Torsby, Värmland Snow 19 313.81 km COVID-19 pandemic [20][21]
9 September 12 September Chile Rally Chile Concepción, Biobío Gravel N/A N/A COVID-19 pandemic [22]
19 August 22 August United Kingdom Rally GB N/A N/A N/A N/A Financial issues [23]
11 November 14 November Japan Rally Japan Nagoya, Chūbu Tarmac 20 300.11 km COVID-19 pandemic [24][25]

Calendar changes[edit]

With the addition of Rally Chile to the calendar in 2019, the FIA opened the tender process for new events to join the championship in 2020.[26] Three events were successful,[c] but the championship was affected by a series of cancellations in 2019 and 2020 that necessitated changes to the 2021 calendar:

  • Rally Catalunya returned to the championship. The rally was removed from the 2020 schedule as part of an event-sharing agreement that would see it removed from the calendar for one year, but was guaranteed a spot on the calendar for the next two.[15] The rally returned to running exclusively on tarmac roads for the first time since 2009.[28][d]
The Acropolis Rally of Greece returned to the championship for the first time since 2013.
The Ypres Rally's debut made Belgium the 35th nation to hold a World Rally Championship event.
  • Rally GB was replaced by the Ypres Rally in Belgium.[23] Rally GB had originally planned to move from Wales to Northern Ireland, but the event was replaced when organisers were unable to come to an agreement with the government of Northern Ireland to support the rally.
  • Rally Japan was scheduled to return to the calendar for the first time since 2010,[15] but it was ultimately called off due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[25] The rally was also originally included on the 2020 calendar, but was also cancelled because of the pandemic.[35] Rally Monza was confirmed to hold the season finale for the second year in a row.[19]
  • The Safari Rally was run as a World Championship event for the first time since 2002. The event was based in the Kenyan capital Nairobi and featured stages around Lake Naivasha.[36] The event had been planned to make its return to the championship in 2020, but was cancelled in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.[37]
The Arctic Rally became the first World Rally Championship round to be held inside the Arctic Circle.
  • Rally Sweden was included on the first draft of the calendar with its traditional February date,[38] but was cancelled before the start of the season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[39][21] The Arctic Rally in northern Finland was chosen as a replacement to ensure that a winter rally was included on the calendar.[40][e]

In light of the disruption caused by the pandemic in 2020 and in anticipation of further delays, the calendar included an additional six reserve rounds that could be included in the event of rallies being cancelled. These events include rallies in Turkey, Argentina and Latvia.[15][42] The Ypres Rally had also been included on this reserve list before it replaced Rally GB,[23] so as the Acropolis Rally and Rally Monza.[22][19]

Entries[edit]

Four teams from three manufacturers are under contract to contest the 2021 World Rally Championship for Manufacturers, enlisting the following crews for each round as detailed. All crews use tyres provided by Pirelli.[43]

World Rally Car entries eligible to score manufacturer points
Manufacturer Entrant Car No. Driver name Co-driver name Rounds
Ford United Kingdom M-Sport Ford WRT Ford Fiesta WRC 3 Finland Teemu Suninen Finland Mikko Markkula 1–2, 5, 7
16 France Adrien Fourmaux Belgium Renaud Jamoul 3–4, 6, 8–9
France Alexandre Coria 10–12
44 United Kingdom Gus Greensmith United Kingdom Elliott Edmondson 1–2
Republic of Ireland Chris Patterson 3–4, 6–11
United Kingdom Stuart Loudon 5
Sweden Jonas Andersson 12
Hyundai South Korea Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC 3 Finland Teemu Suninen Finland Mikko Markkula 12
6 Spain Dani Sordo Spain Carlos del Barrio 1
Spain Borja Rozada 4–6
Spain Cándido Carrera 9, 11–12
8 Estonia Ott Tänak Estonia Martin Järveoja 1–11
11 Belgium Thierry Neuville Belgium Martijn Wydaeghe All
42 Republic of Ireland Craig Breen Republic of Ireland Paul Nagle 2–3, 7–8, 10
France Hyundai 2C Competition Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC 2 Sweden Oliver Solberg United Kingdom Sebastian Marshall 2
Republic of Ireland Aaron Johnston 5–6
United Kingdom Craig Drew 11
United Kingdom Elliott Edmondson 12
7 France Pierre-Louis Loubet France Vincent Landais 1–3
France Florian Haut-Labourdette 4–9
14 Spain Nil Solans Spain Marc Martí 11
Toyota Japan Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota Yaris WRC 1 France Sébastien Ogier France Julien Ingrassia All
33 United Kingdom Elfyn Evans United Kingdom Scott Martin All
69 Finland Kalle Rovanperä Finland Jonne Halttunen All
Source:[44][45][46][47][48][49][50][51][52][53][54][55]

The below crews are not entered to score manufacturer points and are entered in World Rally Cars as privateers or under arrangement with the manufacturers.

World Rally Car entries ineligible to score manufacturer points
Manufacturer Entrant Car No. Driver name Co-driver name Rounds
Citroën France Cyrille Féraud Citroën DS3 WRC [f] France Cyrille Féraud France Benoît Manzo 4–5
Ford Finland JanPro Ford Fiesta WRC 12 Finland Janne Tuohino Finland Reeta Hämäläinen 2
United Kingdom M-Sport Ford WRT Ford Fiesta WRC 9 Greece Jourdan Serderidis Belgium Frédéric Miclotte 9
37 Italy Lorenzo Bertelli Italy Simone Scattolin 2, 6
Croatia Niko Pulić Ford Fiesta WRC 54 Croatia Niko Pulić Croatia Aleksandra Kovačić 3
France Armando Pereira Ford Fiesta WRC [g] France Armando Pereira France Rémi Tutélaire 3, 11
Toyota Finland RTE-Motorsport Toyota Yaris WRC 4 Finland Esapekka Lappi Finland Janne Ferm 10
Japan Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota Yaris WRC 18 Japan Takamoto Katsuta United Kingdom Daniel Barritt 1–7
United Kingdom Keaton Williams 8–9
Republic of Ireland Aaron Johnston 10–12
Source:[44][45][46][47][48][49][50][51][52][53][54][55]

In detail[edit]

Esapekka Lappi (left) moved to the World Rally Championship-2, allowing Adrien Fourmaux (right) to make his début with M-Sport Ford WRT.

M-Sport Ford WRT only entered two full-time entries in 2021.[56] The first was crewed by Gus Greensmith and Elliott Edmondson, who contested selected rallies for the team in 2019 and 2020. Edmondson was later replaced by Chris Patterson.[57] Stuart Loudon became Greensmith's third co-driver of the season, when Patterson was absent in Sardinia due to personal reasons.[58] Greensmith and Patterson parted away after Rally de Catalunya as Patterson decided to retire from competition.[59] Jonas Andersson is confirmed to co-drive with Greensmith in the season finale.[60] The second car was shared by two crews; one made up of World Rally Championship-2 graduates Adrien Fourmaux and Renaud Jamoul, while the other was led by Teemu Suninen, who was partnered by Mikko Markkula.[56] However, Suninen announced that he quited from the team by mid season.[61] Fourmaux split away with Jamoul during the season.[62] Alexandre Coria became Fourmaux's new co-driver.[63] Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm, who drove for M-Sport in 2020, left the team.[56] The two later joined World Rally Championship-2 team Movisport.[64]

Thierry Neuville (left) parted away with co-driver Nicolas Gilsoul (right) before the season started.

Hyundai retained the line-up of Ott Tänak and Martin Järveoja.[65] Thierry Neuville also retained with the team, but he ended his ten-year partnership with Nicolas Gilsoul.[66] Martijn Wydaeghe became Neuville's new co-driver.[67] The team's third entry was shared between crews led by Dani Sordo and Craig Breen.[68] Sordo formed a new partnership with new co-driver Borja Rozada after the Monte Carlo Rally as Carlos del Barrio moved to co-drive with Fabrizio Zaldívar in the WRC-3 category.[69][70] However, their partnership only lasted three rounds, with Cándido Carrera replaced Rozada.[71] Nine-time World Champion Sébastien Loeb left Hyundai to join Bahrain Raid Xtreme team in the 2021 Dakar Rally and Team X44 in the Extreme E electric rally raid series.[72][73] Tänak is confirmed to miss the season's finale for family reasons.[74] Suninen, who left M-Sport and competed for Hyundai in the WRC-2 category in Spain, replaced the Estonian in Monza.[75]

Hyundai's second team, Hyundai 2C Competition, entered an i20 Coupe WRC for Pierre-Louis Loubet and Vincent Landais at every round of the championship. Loubet and Landais had previously contested three events with the team in 2020.[76] Florian Haut-Labourdette later replaced Landais to co-drive with Loubet since Portugal.[77] However, Loubet's full-season programme was brought to an early end as he suffered a hip injury after being involving in a car accident.[78] 2017 Junior World Rally Champion Nil Solans made his top-tier debut in Spain as a replacement to the injured Loubet with Marc Martí.[79] Oliver Solberg and Aaron Johnston made their World Rally Car debut at the Arctic Rally.[80] However, Johnston was replaced by Sebastian Marshall at the weekend after testing positive for COVID-19 pandemic.[81] Solberg announced later in the season that the partnership with Johnston ended.[82] American Rally Association champion Craig Drew took over the seat in Catalunya,[83] before Edmondson cooperated with Solberg in Monza.[84]

Jari-Matti Latvala (left) replaced Tommi Mäkinen (right) to become the team principal of Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT.

Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT was planned to introduce a new car based on the Toyota GR Yaris,[85] an "homologation special", or road-going version of a car specifically designed for competition and with production limited to the minimum number required to meet homologation requirements.[86] However, the team later announced that it had abandoned development the GR Yaris, citing the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on the automotive industry and the costs of developing the car when new regulations were due to be introduced in 2022.[87] Tommi Mäkinen stepped down from Toyota's team principal to become the company's motorsport advisor.[88] Former driver Jari-Matti Latvala was named to succeed Mäkinen's role.[89]

Reigning World Drivers' Champion Sébastien Ogier announced that he would retire from full-time competition at the end of the 2020 championship,[90] but his retirement was delayed when he renewed a one-year deal with Toyota.[91] Ogier explained that his decision to stay in the sport was because the shortened 2020 championship was not how he wanted his career to end.[92] The team retained the pairings of Elfyn Evans and Scott Martin and of Kalle Rovanperä and Jonne Halttunen.[93] Takamoto Katsuta and Daniel Barritt also remained with the team to contest a full-time campaign in a fourth car.[94] Barritt missed several events following back and neck injuries suffered in Estonia.[95] Keaton Williams joined Katsuta as substitute co-driver in Greece before a family emergency forced him to withdraw from in the next two events.[96] Johnston became Katsuta's third co-driver following the departure with Solberg,[97] but soon succeeded by Edmondson in the following round.[84]

Changes[edit]

Technical regulations[edit]

Pirelli became the official tyre supplier.

Pirelli has become the championships' sole nominated tyre supplier with the removal of Michelin and Yokohama.[43] Under the terms of the agreement, Pirelli will supply tyres to all entrants of four-wheel drive cars.[1]

Sporting regulations[edit]

As the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic meant that only seven of the thirteen events planned for the 2020 championship took place, the World Motorsport Council passed a resolution declaring that for the drivers', co-drivers' and manufacturers' championship titles to be awarded a minimum of six rallies must be held.[42]

Manufacturers are awarded Power Stage bonus points for the first time. The scoring system remains the same as that used by drivers and co-drivers, with five points awarded for the fastest manufacturer car down to one point for the fifth quickest. Only the two fastest drivers from a single manufacturer are eligible to score.[98]

Season report[edit]

Opening rounds[edit]

The 2021 FIA World Rally Championship went underway in Monaco. The Hyundai crew of Ott Tänak and Martin Järveoja took an early lead,[99] but their lead was wiped out when they were compromised by the loss of power in hairpins.[100] The Estonian pair's rally was further hampered by two punctures, which meant that they did not have enough rubber on one of their wheels for the car to be considered road legal. Unable to complete the liaison between special stages, Tänak and Järveoja were ruled out for the second consecutive year in Monte-Carlo.[101] The M-Sport crew of Teemu Suninen and Mikko Markkula also retired from the rally when they crashed out on the very first stage of the event.[102] Local heroes Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia were the favourites for the weekend. Despite a flat tire that lost the lead to their teammates Elfyn Evans and Scott Martin,[103] the reigning world champions set fastest stage time after fastest stage time to regain the top spot and eventually won their eighth Monte Carlo victory, a new record for wins in Monte Carlo.[104] They also became the first crew to win the rally with five different manufacturers. Evans and Martin finished second to complete a Toyota one-two. The Japanese manufacturer's party was further flourished by the dominance at the Power Stage, which saw them build a twenty-two-point lead over the reigning manufacturers' champions Hyundai.[104] Last year victor Thierry Neuville joined them on the podium with his new co-driver Martijn Wydaeghe, whose first ever podium in the championship.[104]

The Arctic Rally Finland saw the championship first visiting inside the Arctic Circle, where local favourites Kalle Rovanperä and Jonne Halttunen was determined to win their first WRC event.[105] However, their ambition was spoiled by Tänak and Järveoja, who benefited from a greater road position. The former world champions demonstrated brilliant pace throughout the weekend, leading the event from start to finish to win their first rally of the season.[106] Unable to match the speed of Tänak and Järveoja, Rovanperä and Halttunen were threatened by Neuville and Wydaeghe going onto the final day.[107] The battle for the runner-up spot would decide the championship leads. Eventually, the Finnish crew managed to edge the Belgian pair by 2.3 seconds as well as winning the Power Stage.[108] This was enough to ensure the twenty-year-old Rovanperä to become the youngest driver to lead the championship in the forty-nine-year history of the WRC.[108] 2003 World Rally Champion Petter Solberg's son Oliver Solberg also had a phenomenal weekend. Despite a spin on the final stage, which lost sixth place to Takamoto Katsuta and Daniel Barritt, the 2001-born driver showed some incredible speed, recording six top-five stage times out of ten.[109] Not to mention a late co-driver change and the first time in a World Rally Car.[110][111] Reigning world champions Ogier and Ingrassia had a weekend to forget. The French crew went into the snowbank 200 meters from the flying finish on Saturday's final test, which took them twenty minutes to unstuck.[112] They eventually limped home twentieth but did collect one consolation point form the Power Stage.[108]

The third round of the season saw the championship held in Croatia, the thirty-fourth country to host a WRC event.[113] Rovanperä and Halttunen entered the rally as championship leaders, but they crashed out on the very first stage of the rally.[114] This gave Neuville and Wydaeghe a clean road, leading the rally onto Saturday.[115] However, an incorrect tyre choice of hard and soft compound mixture plus brake issues on Saturday's morning loop saw them dropped down to third.[116] Ogier and Ingrassia became the new rally leaders, but a puncture meant their lead was limited at single-digit.[117] The reigning world champions' rally was further compromised when they were involved in a road accident with a BMW 1 Series on the road section.[118] The collision affected their speed and lost the lead to teammates Evans and Martin, but still trailing by seconds.[119] The final showdown went onto the Power Stage, where Evans and Martin started with a slim 3.9-second advantage.[120] Ogier and Ingrassia pushed hard to set the benchmark before Evans and Martin went wide near the finish, and with that, Ogier and Ingrassia snatched the victory and reclaimed the championship leads.[120] 0.6 second was the winning margin, making the rally the third closest win in history after the 2011 Jordan Rally and the 2007 Rally New Zealand.[121] In addition to a full thirty championship points haul, the French pair also reached their 600th stage win milestone.[122] With two 1–2 finishes in three rounds, Toyota held an early lead in the manufacturers' standings, twenty-seven points cleared of Hyundai.[120] Adrien Fourmaux and Renaud Jamoul made their World Rally Car debut with M-Sport Ford this weekend.[123] They posted several top-five stage times to record a remarkable fifth place.[124]

Mid-season gravel events[edit]

Rally Portugal marked the championship returned to the gravel surface in over 200 days.[125] Hyundai dominated the early stage of the rally, holding 1–2–3 after Friday's morning loop.[126] Situations were looking good for the South Korea manufacturer until Neuville and Wydaeghe damaged their rear-right suspension in a tight left-hander following a over-optimistic pacenote in the afternoon.[127] More bad news coming on Saturday, when the same suspension damage to Tänak and Järveoja's Hyundai meant the Estonian crew could hardly go any further.[128] They eventually retired from the lead just one stage after Tänak's 250th stage win.[129] Benefited from main rivals' retirements and a relative late road position, Evans and Martin won the rally, their first of the season.[130] Dani Sordo and new co-driver Borja Rozada completed the event second overall to bring their team valuable points after a disaster weekend for Hyundai, with Ogier and Ingrassia rounded out of the podium.[130] Katsuta drove a clean and consistent rally, ensuring the Japanese driver a career-high fourth place.[131] Gus Greensmith and Chris Patterson overcame a puncture and a throttle issue to lead teammate Fourmaux and Jamoul home fifth and sixth.[131] Rovanperä and Halttunen suffered a mechanical issue before the final stage of Saturday, meaning a second straight incomplete rally for the Finnish crew.[132] Pierre-Louis Loubet's trouble-started season did not go any better. He and his new co-driver Florian Haut-Labourdette's rally was over just two stages into the rally, where they crashed their i20, meaning a fourth consecutive no scores for the French driver.[133]

The Sardinia island witnessed Hyundai's another catastrophic weekend. Despite the dominate performance on Friday, the crew of Tänak and Järveoja and of Sordo and Rozada successively retired from Saturday due to rear suspension damage.[134][135] Following Hyundai's double disasters, Ogier and Ingrassia took over the rally, with Evans and Martin covered second.[136] They eventually cruised home although their Yaris' engines were both ingested water after driving through a water splash in the Power Stage.[137] With another 1–2 finish, Toyota's lead over Hyundai extended to massive forty-nine points.[138] Neuville and Wydaeghe were the only hope of Hyundai. The Belgian crew was struggling throughout the event and could only managed to finish third.[139] The highlight of their trouble-some weekend was the Power Stage, where they posted the fastest stage time to score five bonus points.[140] The only the fourth World Rally Car crew to finish the event without retirement was Katsuta and Barritt, who completed the rally in fourth.[139] Both M-Sports Ford crews were unable to finish all the twenty stages,[141] so were Rovanperä and Halttunen.[142] Loubet and Haut-Labourdette also retired from the rally on Saturday after reporting a burning smell in their i20.[136] Oliver Solberg was set to make his second out in a World Rally Car at Sardegna, but he had to withdraw form the rally following COVID-19 protocols as his father was tested COVID-19 positive.[143] Solberg later contested Rally di Alba as makeup.[144]

A right-rear suspension failure denied Thierry Neuville and Martijn Wydaeghe's victory in Kenya.

The Safari Rally in Kenya, Africa is renowned for impassable, hard to traverse, open, soft, bumpy, rocky and gravel roads.[145] When the World Rally Championship returned to Kenya after nineteen years, nothing changed.[146] First to comprehend the toughness of the event was the crew of Evans and Martin. On the second stage of Friday, the British crew hit a rock that was hidden inside of a fast right bend and damaged to his right-front suspension, meaning they had to retire from the day.[147] Sordo and Rozada joined them soon after when they oversteered sideways off-road and ploughed in a ditch.[148] Oliver Solberg and Aaron Johnston replaced Loubet and Haut-Labourdette to compete the rally for Hyundai 2C Competition.[149] However, they hit the bank whilst going through a dip on Friday's first stage. Despite some emergency repairs, they were forced to retire from the rally at the end of the loop due to the roll cage damage sustained by the impact of 19G.[150] Championship leaders Ogier and Ingrassia also faced a damper issue caused by an shed oil canister from the rear suspension in the morning loop of Friday. The seven-time world champions had to nurse through the final test of the loop, which dropped them over two minutes.[151] Rovanperä and Halttunen briefly led the rally before they benched their Yaris on the final stage of the Friday, which meant they also retired from the day.[152] Neuville and Wydaeghe suffered three punctures on Friday, while teammates Tänak and Järveoja also had one.[153] Saturday saw a relative drama-free run from every crew until the last stage of day, where a storm soaked the thirty-one-kilometer Sleeping Warrior stage.[154] This heavily affected the pace of the crews who ran further down on the road position, especially for the Hyundai crew of Tänak and Järveoja, who had to stop in the stage and manually wipe out their i20's misted up windscreen due to a defogger failure.[155] Their time loss was over two minutes, which was enough to drop off the podium place.[156] The biggest drama of the weekend occurred on the opening stage of Sunday, when rally leaders Neuville and Wydaeghe came up with the same suspension-collapsed issue as their teammates Tänak and Järveoja in the last two events.[157] Although they crarried their wounded i20 through the stage and kept their lead,[158] the damage was too much to fix.[159] The Belgian crew had to retire from the lead, meaning for the third consecutive rally, a Hyundai retired from the top spot.[160] Following Neuville and Wydaeghe's demise, Japanese driver Takamoto Katsuta led a WRC event for the first in his career,[161] but he and his co-driver Barritt were soon overhauled by a charging Ogier and Ingrassia, who were once down in seventh overall.[162] The French crew eventually won the eventful rally to wrap up their fourth victory of the season, and held a commanding lead of thirty-four points in the drivers' and co-drivers' championships heading into the second half of the season.[163] Throwing away three victories in a row, Hyundai's title defend campaign looked in serious shatter as they were a massive fifty-nine points off the lead.[164] Katsuta secured his WRC podium alongside Barritt, with Tänak and Järveoja rounded out of the podium.[165] Fourmaux and Jamoul could've finished a careers-high fourth place, but they were given a ten-second time penalty for not following the defined roadway on Sunday's opening stage. This demoted them to fifth, handing British driver Gus Greensmith a career-best finish with Patterson alongside. The two M-sport crews were eventually separated by just 0.1 second.[166] However, Fourmaux and Jamoul did win their first special stage on SS16.[167]

Ott Tänak and Martin Järveoja retired from Friday at their home event.

Halfway through the season, the championship's next stop was Rally Estonia.[168] Ahead of home crowds, local favourites Tänak and Järveoja were keen to repeat their success one year ago.[169] It wasn't long until they led the rally,[170] but double puncture happened in two consecutive stages on Friday's morning loop put them from heroes to zeroes as they run out of spare wheel to change, meaning they could not go any further on Friday.[171][172] Following Tänak and Järveoja's issue, Rovanperä and Halttunen put them in advantage for the victory contention.[173] Having fended off the pursuit of Craig Breen and Paul Nagle,[174] they increasingly extend their lead to the eventual shy off one minute to claim their maiden WRC win.[175] At 20 years and 290 days, Rovanperä became the youngest driver to win a WRC event, breaking the previous record of 22 years and 313 days held by Jari-Matti Latvala.[176] Breen and Nagle achieved their first podium of the season by finishing second, with teammates Neuville and Wydaeghe rounded out of the podium with their fifth third place.[177] Katsuta was only major retirement on the list as his co-driver Barritt suffered a back injury.[178] Loubet and Haut-Labourdette, who jumped Safari in order to mentally reset, enjoyed a trouble-free weekend. The French crew finally scored their first points of the season by finishing seventh overall.[179]

New and return rallies[edit]

The Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps was featured in Sunday's route of the rally.

The debut of Ypres Rally on the calendar meant Belgium became the thirty-fifth country to host a WRC event.[180] The combination of bridle path and the famous Spa-Francorchamps circuit prove to be relentless for competitors.[181] Local experience was the key to success, which was why local heroes Neuville and Wydaeghe were out in front.[182] They transferred the knowledge they owned into the winning style to bag an emotional home triumph.[183] This was also the first career victory for Wydaeghe.[184] The only crew who can match their blistering pace was their teammates Breen and Nagle, only the second crew who have contested the event in the previous years.[185] The Irish crew completed the weekend with another second place.[186] Tänak and Järveoja's trouble-some 2021 campaign still continued as a forced tyre change following a puncture dropped over three minutes from third to sixth.[187] Three Toyota crews were in a no man's land, with Rovanperä and Halttunen stood out to cover the final podium position.[188] Keaton Williams sat alongside Katsuta to replace the injured Barritt at the weekend, but they retired from the rally when they crashed out on Saturday.[189] Fourmaux and Jamoul joined them on the retiring list following a heavy accident.[190]

Greece gave the championship a warmly welcome as the Acropolis Rally returned to the calendar after eight years.[191] Winning their home event, Neuville and Wydaeghe were ambitious to further close the gap to the championship leaders until the power steering of their i20 failed.[192] The luck was not with Evans and Martin neither when their Yaris' gearbox stuck.[193] Following both title rivals stumbled, the third-place finish was enough for Ogier and Ingrassia to extend their championship leads.[194] The crew of the event belonged to Rovanperä and Halttunen, who steered out of trouble and bagged their second victory of the season.[195] The result also saw Toyota extend their championship lead to a mighty fifty-seven points. With only three rounds to go, things were looking really promising for their championship bid.[196] A family emergency for Williams forced Katsuta to withdraw from the rally.[197]

Rally Finland went ahead with the twenty-first birthday of Rovanperä, who was keen to win his home event.[198] He and Halttunen were running in the front field until they hit with a large pile of gravel on Saturday morning.[199] This caused significant damage to their Yaris, which led to the retirement from the day.[200] Katsuta and new co-driver Aaron Johnston also retired from the day when they ran too deep into a quick left-hander and clouted the bank on the right.[201] Neuville and Wydaeghe's slim title hopes were completely shattered when they stopped halfway through the second test of the Patajoki stage following a compression broke the radiator and caused a water leak.[202] Championship leaders Ogier and Ingrassia were struggled for pace all the weekend, and a one-minute time penalty for not fastening crash helmet strap meant they were in a no men's land.[203] Meanwhile, teammates Evans and Martin were out in front and ultimately won the rally as well as the Power Stage.[204] The result saw Evans and Martin slashed the championship gap by a massive twenty points, trailing Ogier and Ingrassia by twenty-four points after the event.[205]

Closing rounds[edit]

Although Neuville and Wydaeghe lost any chance to clinch the world titles coming into the event, they completely dominated the Spain tarmac, winning a total of ten special stages to grab their second victory of the season after overcoming a late starter motor problem.[206] Evans and Martin kept their title hopes alive as they outscored championship leaders Ogier and Ingrassia.[207] The French crew was looking good to achieve a podium finish till an engine stall at Saturday's final test erased their gap over local heros Sordo and Cándido Carrera and eventually got overhauled on Sunday morning.[208][209] Katsuta and Johnston's hope of a good result was gone at the very first stage when their Yaris understeered into the barrier at the opening stage of Friday.[210] Tänak and Järveoja's dreadful season did not go any better as crashed out on Friday morning, retiring from the event following a chasis damage.[211] Nil Solans made his top-tier debut with veteran co-driver Marc Martí, who enjoyed a trouble-free weekend as well as Oliver Solberg and Craig Drew, completing a double-point score for Hyundai 2C Competition.[212]

The championship was down to the wire as the season finale was again held at Monza.[213] Holding a healthy lead in the championship standings, championship leaders Ogier and Ingrassia immediately boosted to the lead.[214] Title rivals Evans and Martin overhauled Ogier and Ingrassia by the end of the first day, but soon lost it back to the French crew in the following morning loop.[215] The top spot swang left and right throughout the event like so.[216] Eventually, Ogier and Ingrassia came out on top, winning their fifth rally of the season to bag their eighth world titles.[217] Sordo and Carrera rounded out of the podium after teammates Neuville and Wydaeghe spun into traffic barrier on Saturday.[218] Manufacturer-wise, Toyota won a total of nine victories out of twelve in comparison to Hyundai's three, which was enough for the Japanese team to clinch the title.[219]

Results and standings[edit]

Season summary[edit]

Round Event Winning driver Winning co-driver Winning entrant Winning time Report Ref.
1 Monaco Rallye Automobile Monte Carlo France Sébastien Ogier France Julien Ingrassia Japan Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT 2:56:33.7 Report [220][221]
2 Finland Arctic Rally Finland Estonia Ott Tänak Estonia Martin Järveoja South Korea Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT 2:03:49.6 Report [222][223]
3 Croatia Croatia Rally France Sébastien Ogier France Julien Ingrassia Japan Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT 2:51:22.9 Report [224][225]
4 Portugal Rally de Portugal United Kingdom Elfyn Evans United Kingdom Scott Martin Japan Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT 3:38:26.2 Report [226][227]
5 Italy Rally Italia Sardegna France Sébastien Ogier France Julien Ingrassia Japan Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT 3:19:26.4 Report [228][229]
6 Kenya Safari Rally Kenya France Sébastien Ogier France Julien Ingrassia Japan Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT 3:18:11.3 Report [230][231]
7 Estonia Rally Estonia Finland Kalle Rovanperä Finland Jonne Halttunen Japan Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT 2:51:29.1 Report [232][233]
8 Belgium Ypres Rally Belgium Belgium Thierry Neuville Belgium Martijn Wydaeghe South Korea Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT 2:30:24.2 Report [234][235]
9 Greece Acropolis Rally Greece Finland Kalle Rovanperä Finland Jonne Halttunen Japan Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT 3:28:24.6 Report [236][237]
10 Finland Rally Finland United Kingdom Elfyn Evans United Kingdom Scott Martin Japan Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT 2:19:13.7 Report [238][239]
11 Spain RACC Rally Catalunya de España Belgium Thierry Neuville Belgium Martijn Wydaeghe South Korea Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT 2:34:11.8 Report [240][241]
12 Italy Rally Monza France Sébastien Ogier France Julien Ingrassia Japan Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT 2:39:08.6 Report [242][243]

Scoring system[edit]

Points were awarded to the top ten classified finishers in each event. In the manufacturers' championship, teams were eligible to nominate three crews to score points, but these points were only awarded to the top two classified finishers representing a manufacturer and driving a 2017-specification World Rally Car. There were also five bonus points awarded to the winners of the Power Stage, four points for second place, three for third, two for fourth and one for fifth. Power Stage points were awarded in the drivers', co-drivers' championships and manufacturers'.[98][244]

Position 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th
Points 25 18 15 12 10 8 6 4 2 1

FIA World Rally Championship for Drivers[edit]

The driver who records a top-ten finish is taken into account for the championship regardless of the categories.

Pos. Driver MON
Monaco
ARC
Finland
CRO
Croatia
POR
Portugal
ITA
Italy
KEN
Kenya
EST
Estonia
BEL
Belgium
GRE
Greece
FIN
Finland
ESP
Spain
MNZ
Italy
Points
1 France Sébastien Ogier 11 205 11 33 14 14 43 52 33 5 44 15 230
2 United Kingdom Elfyn Evans 23 5 24 15 2 103 54 45 62 11 23 24 207
3 Belgium Thierry Neuville 34 33 33 362 31 Ret 32 13 84 Ret 12 41 176
4 Finland Kalle Rovanperä 42 21 Ret 224 253 62 15 34 11 34 55 9 142
5 Estonia Ott Tänak Ret 14 45 211 242 31 311 61 25 22 Ret 128
6 Spain Dani Sordo 55 2 175 125 4 31 33 81
7 Japan Takamoto Katsuta 6 6 6 4 4 2 Ret Ret WD 374 39 72 78
8 Republic of Ireland Craig Breen 42 82 2 2 35 76
9 United Kingdom Gus Greensmith 8 9 7 5 26 4 32 47 5 6 6 8 64
10 France Adrien Fourmaux 9 48 5 6 30 5 12 Ret 7 7 16 55 42
11 Finland Teemu Suninen Ret 8 10 8 31 WD 6 Ret WD 8 11 6 29
12 Finland Esapekka Lappi 10 7 43 22
13 Sweden Oliver Solberg Ret 7 11 WD Ret Ret Ret Ret Ret 7 5 22
14 Norway Mads Østberg 9 9 6 10 31 9 15 15
15 France Yohan Rossel 11 14 14 7 7 DSQ 11 12
16 Finland Jari Huttunen Ret 5 Ret 19 11 Ret 14 10
17 Norway Andreas Mikkelsen 7 11 39 WD Ret WD 9 9 16 10
18 France Pierre-Louis Loubet 16 39 29 Ret Ret WD 7 68 Ret WD 6
19 Kenya Onkar Rai 7 6
20 Spain Pepe López Ret 8 15 WD 14 Ret 4
21 Belgium Pieter Jan Michiel Cracco 50 8 4
22 Kenya Karan Patel 8 4
23 Russian Automobile Federation flag.svg Aleksey Lukyanuk[h] 8 4
24 Spain Nil Solans 8 4
25 France Eric Camilli 10 39 9 3
26 Spain Jan Solans Ret 9 Ret 2
27 Germany Fabian Kreim 9 Ret 2
28 Kenya Carl Tundo 9 2
29 Bolivia Marco Bulacia Wilkinson 15 12 12 10 WD 11 10 Ret 58 2
30 Russian Automobile Federation flag.svg Nikolay Gryazin[i] 12 12 Ret 10 Ret Ret 59 13 36 10 13 2
31 Finland Emil Lindholm Ret 13 27 Ret Ret 14 10 1
32 Belgium Vincent Verschueren 10 1
33 Italy Andrea Crugnola WD 10 1
Pos. Driver MON
Monaco
ARC
Finland
CRO
Croatia
POR
Portugal
ITA
Italy
KEN
Kenya
EST
Estonia
BEL
Belgium
GRE
Greece
FIN
Finland
ESP
Spain
MNZ
Italy
Points
Sources:[246][247]
Key
Colour Result
Gold Winner
Silver 2nd place
Bronze 3rd place
Green Points finish
Blue Non-points finish
Non-classified finish (NC)
Purple Did not finish (Ret)
Black Excluded (EX)
Disqualified (DSQ)
White Did not start (DNS)
Cancelled (C)
Blank Withdrew entry from
the event (WD)

Notes:
1 2 3 4 5 – Power Stage position

FIA World Rally Championship for Co-Drivers[edit]

The co-driver who records a top-ten finish is taken into account for the championship regardless of the categories.

Pos. Co-Driver MON
Monaco
ARC
Finland
CRO
Croatia
POR
Portugal
ITA
Italy
KEN
Kenya
EST
Estonia
BEL
Belgium
GRE
Greece
FIN
Finland
ESP
Spain
MNZ
Italy
Points
1 France Julien Ingrassia 11 205 11 33 14 14 43 52 33 5 44 15 230
2 United Kingdom Scott Martin 23 5 24 15 2 103 54 45 62 11 23 24 207
3 Belgium Martijn Wydaeghe 34 33 33 362 31 Ret 32 13 84 Ret 12 41 176
4 Finland Jonne Halttunen 42 21 Ret 224 253 62 15 34 11 34 55 9 142
5 Estonia Martin Järveoja Ret 14 45 211 242 31 311 61 25 22 Ret 128
6 Republic of Ireland Paul Nagle 42 82 2 2 35 76
7 United Kingdom Daniel Barritt 6 6 6 4 4 2 Ret 66
8 Republic of Ireland Chris Patterson 7 5 WD 4 32 47 5 6 6 54
9 Spain Cándido Carrera 4 31 33 50
10 Belgium Renaud Jamoul 9 48 5 6 30 5 12 Ret 7 36
11 Finland Mikko Markkula Ret 8 10 8 31 WD 6 Ret WD 8 11 6 29
12 Finland Janne Ferm 10 7 43 22
13 Spain Borja Rozada 2 175 125 Ret 20
14 United Kingdom Elliott Edmondson 8 9 9 5 18
15 France Alexandre Coria 22 14 14 7 7 DSQ 7 16 55 18
16 Norway Torstein Eriksen 9 9 6 10 31 9 15 15
17 Republic of Ireland Aaron Johnston Ret WD 11 Ret Ret Ret Ret 374 39 72 12
18 Spain Carlos del Barrio 55 33 17 18 11 20 33 23 11
19 Finland Mikko Lukka Ret 34 5 Ret 19 11 Ret 14 10
20 Norway Ola Fløene 7 11 39 WD Ret WD 9 8
21 United Kingdom Sebastian Marshall 7 Ret Ret 20 6
22 France Florian Haut-Labourdette Ret Ret WD 7 68 Ret WD 6
23 United Kingdom Craig Drew Ret 7 6
24 United Kingdom Drew Sturrock 7 6
25 Sweden Jonas Andersson 16 DNS WD 8 4
26 Spain Marc Martí 28 Ret 8 4
27 Belgium Jasper Vermeulen 50 8 4
28 Spain Diego Vallejo Ret 8 4
29 Kenya Tauseef Khan 8 4
30 Russian Automobile Federation flag.svg Yaroslav Fedorov[j] 8 4
31 Spain Rodrigo Sanjuan de Eusebio 47 Ret 9 Ret 2
32 Kenya Tim Jessop 9 2
33 Germany Frank Christian 9 2
34 France Maxime Vilmot 9 2
35 Argentina Marcelo Der Ohannesian 15 12 12 10 WD 11 10 Ret 58 2
36 Russian Automobile Federation flag.svg Konstantin Aleksandrov[k] 12 12 Ret 10 Ret Ret 59 13 36 10 13 2
37 Finland Reeta Hämäläinen Ret 27 Ret Ret 14 10 1
38 France François-Xavier Buresi 10 WD 1
39 Belgium Filip Cuvelier 10 1
40 Italy Pietro Ometto WD 10 1
Pos. Co-Driver MON
Monaco
ARC
Finland
CRO
Croatia
POR
Portugal
ITA
Italy
KEN
Kenya
EST
Estonia
BEL
Belgium
GRE
Greece
FIN
Finland
ESP
Spain
MNZ
Italy
Points
Sources:[246][247]
Key
Colour Result
Gold Winner
Silver 2nd place
Bronze 3rd place
Green Points finish
Blue Non-points finish
Non-classified finish (NC)
Purple Did not finish (Ret)
Black Excluded (EX)
Disqualified (DSQ)
White Did not start (DNS)
Cancelled (C)
Blank Withdrew entry from
the event (WD)

Notes:
1 2 3 4 5 – Power Stage position

FIA World Rally Championship for Manufacturers[edit]

Only the best two results of each manufacturer in the respective overall classification and Power Stage at each rally are taken into account for the championship.

Pos. Manufacturer MON
Monaco
ARC
Finland
CRO
Croatia
POR
Portugal
ITA
Italy
KEN
Kenya
EST
Estonia
BEL
Belgium
GRE
Greece
FIN
Finland
ESP
Spain
MNZ
Italy
Points
1 Japan Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT 11 21 11 1 13 1 1 34 11 11 23 15 520
2 4 24 33 2 52 43 4 3 44 44 24
NC2 NC5 Ret NC4 NC4 NC3 NC4 NC2 NC2 NC NC NC
2 South Korea Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT 34 1 33 2 31 21 2 13 25 22 12 33 462
45 33 4 61 4 65 32 2 4 33 31 41
Ret NC2 NC2 NC2 NC2 Ret NC1 NC1 NC4 Ret Ret NC
3 United Kingdom M-Sport Ford WRT 5 6 5 4 5 3 5 5 5 55 5 6 199
Ret 7 6 5 6 4 7 Ret 6 6 8 7
4 France Hyundai 2C Competition 6 5 7 Ret Ret Ret 6 6 Ret 6 5 68
8 WD WD 7
Pos. Manufacturer MON
Monaco
ARC
Finland
CRO
Croatia
POR
Portugal
ITA
Italy
KEN
Kenya
EST
Estonia
BEL
Belgium
GRE
Greece
FIN
Finland
ESP
Spain
MNZ
Italy
Points
Sources:[246][247]
Key
Colour Result
Gold Winner
Silver 2nd place
Bronze 3rd place
Green Points finish
Blue Non-points finish
Non-classified finish (NC)
Purple Did not finish (Ret)
Black Excluded (EX)
Disqualified (DSQ)
White Did not start (DNS)
Cancelled (C)
Blank Withdrew entry from
the event (WD)

Notes:
1 2 3 4 5 – Power Stage position

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ The rally base of the Monte Carlo Rally was located in France.
  2. ^ The Monte Carlo Rally was run on a tarmac and snow surface.
  3. ^ Rally New Zealand was successful in its bid to join the championship, but was cancelled because of the pandemic.[27] It was not included on the 2021 calendar, but a separate, later bid from Rally Croatia was also successful.[15]
  4. ^ Rally Catalunya had previously been run as a mixed surface rally, with the first leg of the event held on gravel roads and the final two legs on tarmac.[29]
  5. ^ The Arctic Rally was held twice during the 2021 calendar year. The first running in January was part of the Finnish Rally Championship and the second running in February was the World Championship round.[41]
  6. ^ The crew of Cyrille Féraud and Benoît Manzo competed with multiple numbers throughout the championship.[47][48]
  7. ^ The crew of Armando Pereira and Rémi Tutélaire competed with multiple numbers throughout the championship.[46][54]
  8. ^ Aleksey Lukyanuk is Russian, but he competes as a neutral competitor using the designation RAF (Russian Automobile Federation), as the Court of Arbitration for Sport upheld a ban on Russia competing at World Championships. The ban was implemented by the World Anti-Doping Agency in response to state-sponsored doping program of Russian athletes.[245]
  9. ^ Nikolay Gryazin is Russian, but he competes as a neutral competitor using the designation RAF (Russian Automobile Federation), as the Court of Arbitration for Sport upheld a ban on Russia competing at World Championships. The ban was implemented by the World Anti-Doping Agency in response to state-sponsored doping program of Russian athletes.[245]
  10. ^ Yaroslav Fedorov is Russian, but he competes as a neutral competitor using the designation RAF (Russian Automobile Federation), as the Court of Arbitration for Sport upheld a ban on Russia competing at World Championships. The ban was implemented by the World Anti-Doping Agency in response to state-sponsored doping program of Russian athletes.[245]
  11. ^ Konstantin Aleksandrov is Russian, but he competes as a neutral competitor using the designation RAF (Russian Automobile Federation), as the Court of Arbitration for Sport upheld a ban on Russia competing at World Championships. The ban was implemented by the World Anti-Doping Agency in response to state-sponsored doping program of Russian athletes.[245]

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External links[edit]