1981 WRC Season Commentary

1981 WRC Summary by Chris Biewer :

For 1981 the Rally do Brasil replaces the Rally New Zealand, Tour de Corse is for the first time moved from its traditional (near) end of season date to early May. With now Tour de Corse following right after Safari, this move makes a most perfect and exciting showcase of the huge variety of events that the sport of rallying has to offer.

Sweden and Brasil count to the drivers WRChampionship only and best 7 results are counted.


The Rally Sweden is an event to write history. Two years after the first turbo victory, also in Sweden, the Audi Quattro becomes the first 4x4 car to win a WRC event. However for the rest of the season the Quattro seems to have a tricky handling and complicated technical glitches, including an embarrassing disqualification at the Acropolis. For now opinions on 4x4 in WRC remain mixed. But a beautiful record is when Michèle Mouton becomes the first lady to win a WRC event. This was in San Remo driving a Quattro.

But the biggest news for the 1981 season probably come from Mercedes creating controversy. Mercedes had thrown a lot of money and resources at only a small selection of events so far and now want to do a full season. They sign Walter Röhrl and Ari Vatanen for a full WRC program. But only days before the first event they completely change mind and pull the plug on the WRC altogether.

Ari Vatanen eventually can stay at David Sutton's team, but Walter Röhrl, even though he is the reigning WRChampion, fails to secure a program at this short notice! Interestingly, the David Sutton team being a private outfit have 3 future WRC key managers on board their 3-car-team: Ari Vatanen/David Richards, Pentti Airikkala/Phil Short & Malcolm Wilson/Terry Harryman.

Despite the appearence of supercars as Audi Quattro and R5 Turbo, both World titles go to virtually private teams. Drivers champ Ari Vatanen drives for David Sutton's Rothmans team. Makes champ Peugeot-Talbot is a works effort, but not from Peugeot's main base but from Talbot UK, virtually an importers team. The team is somewhat taken by surprise with their early season performances and travel to the South American rounds with 1 car, 5 staff and borrow staff and service cars from Peugeot's Argentinian Sevel factory - and return with 1st & 2nd places!

1981 WRC Factory Team and Driver Line Ups :

  There are no records for this championship yet, please check back.