1973 WRC Season Commentary

1973 WRC Summary by Chris Biewer :

It seemed a small step to start the WRC, yet it turned out to be the start of a new era. Before the WRC there was the ERC for many, many years. But in Africa there was a massively interesting event, the Safari Rally, that was already visited by manufacturer teams since many years. For 1970 the Safari Rally was then added as an ERC scoring round. And for 1971 & 1972 the less unique but easier to reach Moroccan Rally joined the Safari as an ERC scoring round. This of course is then not a real European Championship any more and was dubbed the IRC = International Rally Championship from 1970-1972, not to be mistaken for the IRC = Intercontinental Rally Challenge from 2007. The start of the WRC in 1973 such was basically just an overdue name change to an already existing baby.

However in this constellation it is interesting that the Safari is no more considered for the WRC calendar. You can name Monte Carlo, Tour de Corse, San Remo, RAC all as the most classic WRC events that have always been there, but it was the Safari that got the WRC started! One can’t predict history, but without the Safari the ERC would probably still be the premier rally series.

The pre-WRC era ends with mega entry fields in the Tour de Corse and the RAC 1972. Therefore the WRC really is the start of a new era as that Tour de Corse by total coincidence celebrates the farewell of many exciting cars, such as Simca CG, Ligier JS2, Ford GT70, Ford Capri RS2600 and Peugeot 304 SLS - see our pre-WRC/database introduction write ups. The same event sees the debut of the Lancia Stratos. However the WRC starts with another mega entry field. In Monte Carlo 1973 there are nearly 300 cars, many racing drivers.

On the 1973 season action, the first WRC season really is an affair between Renault-Alpine and the Fiat/Lancia Group. And Renault-Alpine is really dominating the results sheets. Their drivers are already legendarily referred to as "the three musketeers". Just who exactly these three musketeers are was never really settled. If it was the regular French drivers of the French team, you can pick from a choice of Bernard Darniche, Jean-Claude Andruet, Jean-Luc Thérier & Jean-Pierre Nicolas = four of them. Many fans regard Swede Ove Andersson as one of the musketeers. Ove never did a complete season with Alpine-Renault, but he is famous with this team maybe because a Nordic driver in a Latin team is unusual, plus he won the Rallye Monte Carlo 1971 in a works Alpine, an important win for the team as it was the first time the Alpine beat the Porsches at the prestigeous Monte.

Strange then in comparison that Fiat Group's Nordic drivers didn't stand out for the same reason. Fiat and Lancia employed mainly Italian drivers the same way as Renault-Alpine had French drivers. But during 1973 Haakan Lindberg, Björn Waldegaard and Rauno Aaltonen were all occasionally spotted in works Fiats, while for Lancia Simo Lampinen and Harry Kallström were nearly regulars.

BMW had deals with Rauno Aaltonen, Björn Waldegaard & Achim Warmbold, however their program was trimmed while working on a new car.

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However only Renault and the Fiat/Lancia Group seem to take the new WRC serious. Most other traditional makes keep concentrating on marathon programs. On the Polish Rally, WRC round7, entries are so slim that only 3 cars make it to the finish.

The WRC also has its first crisis already in its first season. The Austrian Alpine Rallye, one of the most traditional ERC events in the pre-WRC era, is surprisingly hit by massive organisational problems, including time controls in wrong places, road blockages, Green Party fanatics protesting. Not surprising then that this was the first and last time this until that point traditional and famous event was included in the WRC.

As a new formed WORLD championship, the series includes 2 of the 3 traditional African rallies and also a round in Northern America.

Only best 8 results score. Points are given for each make's first car's accurate position in a points system that later is adopted to the drivers WRC for many years (20-15-12-10-8-6-4-3-2-1).
 

1973 WRC Factory Team and Driver Line Ups :
 

Renault Renault, 1973 - Alpine-Renault : 1st on 147 points.
 

 

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Fiat Fiat, 1973 - Fiat Abarth : 2nd on 84 points.
 

 

No

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Ford Ford, 1973 - Ford RS Rallye Sport Team : 3rd on 76 points.
 

 

No

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Volvo Volvo, 1973 - Volvo : 4th on 44 points.
 

 

No

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Saab Saab, 1973 - Saab : 5th on 42 points.
 

 

No

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Nissan Nissan, 1973 - Nismo Datsun : 6th on 34 points.
 

 

No

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Citroën Citroën, 1973 - Citroën Sport : 7th on 33 points.
 

 

No

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BMW BMW, 1973 - BMW Motorsport GmbH : 8th on 28 points.
 

 

No

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Porsche Porsche, 1973 - Porsche AG : 9th on 27 points.
 

 

No

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Toyota Toyota, 1973 - Andersson Motorsport : 10th on 25 points.
 

 

No

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Opel Opel, 1973 - Opel Euro Händler : 11th on 25 points.
 

 

No

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Lancia Lancia, 1973 - Lancia Abarth : 12th on 17 points.
 

 

No

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Volkswagen Volkswagen, 1973 - Porsche Austria : 14th on 15 points.
 

 

No

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Peugeot Peugeot, 1973 - Peugeot Sport : 15th on 13 points.
 

 

No

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Mitsubishi Mitsubishi, 1973 - Singh/Cowan : 16th on 4 points.
 

 

No

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Skoda Skoda, 1973 - Skoda Fabric : 17th on 3 points.
 

 

No

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