The World Rally Championship has struggled in recent years, despite incredibly scenic locations, impressive cars, and some of the best drivers the world has ever seen.
Starting from 2017, though, we may see a resurgence in the sport’s popularity, as both the cars and competition will be heating up.
New, more lenient regulations are being introduced to make the cars look and perform better. Compared to current WRC cars, 2017-spec cars will be wider and feature bodies designed with greater freedom in regards to aerodynamics, with comparisons to the legendary Group B cars of the 1980s already being made. The cars will also be more powerful, with up to 380 horsepower allowed.
The 2017 season will also see Toyota make its return, with a new car based on its Yaris subcompact. The Japanese automaker together with its official motorsport partner Gazoo unveiled the 2017 Yaris WRC on Thursday at the 2016 Paris auto show.
Helping Toyota with its WRC comeback is Finnish rally legend Tommi Mäkinen, as well as Microsoft, which is serving as the team’s technical partner. They will be going up against other top automakers Citroën, Ford Motor Company [NYSE:F], Hyundai and the reigning world champion, Volkswagen. Hyundai also used the Paris auto show to unveil its 2017 WRC car, which once again is based on its i20 subcompact sold overseas.
The 2017 WRC season’s first round is the Monte Carlo Rally in January.