1993 WRC Season Commentary

1993 WRC Summary by Chris Biewer :

The WRC event calendar saw a major shake up. First impression is that only NZ has been moved back by 1 month, after Argentina. But at long last the FIA got rid of not counting all driver WRC events to the manufacturer WRC. From 1993 onwards the driver and manufacturer WRC calendar will be absolutely identical. Connected to this is to dump the Bandama Rallye from the WRC, reducing the calendar to 13 rounds again.

Now the best 8 rather than 7 results score (for drivers best 8 too, as opposed to 9 previously).

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Three of the four main challengers to Lancia come up with more compact versions of their 4x4 turbo rally cars. Ford launches the Escort Cosworth with the start of the season. The car looks a winner and pretty soon turns a winner. Mitsubishi launches the Lancer Evo as well with the start of the season. However for Mitsubishi it is the 4th season in succession without winning any makes WRC round. Subaru debuts the Impreza during the second half of the season and than runs very much a mix of both cars. Subaru wins in NZ, Subaru's first ever win in their 4th season (not counting the many years of competing with Leone models) is as well Colin McRae's first win.

At Subaru the reasons for the one-off drivers employed was first Ari Vatanen being injured during his Citroen Paris-Dakar run and such having to miss Sweden and Portugal, than after his many 1992 Finland offs, Subaru felt better not having Colin to debut the Impreza in Finland. However Markku Alen seemed a worthy Colin replacement, crashing out of the rally 300yards into SS1!

An all new rally project seems on the cards from GM. However the Opel/Vauxhall Calibra Turbo 4x4 has its turbo right inside the manifold (i.e. the idea being better turbo response, the result being turbo/induction air flow in the hottest place possible) already on the road car and as a result there is no cure for the engine being hopelessly unreliable and underpowered. With the exception of maybe the Ford Escort RS1700 Turbo, this group A Calibra must have been the shortest living rally car of all time. BTW don't mistake it for the car Bruno Thiry used in 1992, as Bruno used a non-turbo, FWD version Calibra. The Calibra Turbo 4x4 may have been an unloved project, put would you remember that this was the first 4x4 rally car using active differentials?!

Another new car has a bad fate for different reasons, certainly not because it was not capable: What a shame that SMS (Schmidt Motorsport) Audi Coupé S2 Quattro has no proper works support. At long last Audi has an adequate base car for groupA, however it is all privately engineered, developped, tested and run, not even driven by front line drivers, and look at its results!

1993 as well is a bad year for navigators. Rodger Freeth, the long term navigator of Subaru's Possum Bourne, loses his life in an accident during the Rally Australia. For a cars and car registrations database it is sad that Rodger's death is linked to one of the funniest reg plates in history, their car displaying a well humourful link between driver and sponsor: PO555UM. It is as well the year when Juha Kankkunen's regular navigator, Juha Piironen suffers a brain haemorrhage before Rally Argentina. Juha turns WRChampion using 3 navigators, Juha Piironen, Nicky Grist and Denis Giraudet, while the inofficial "navigator WRChampion" is Ford's/Francois Delecour's Daniel Grataloup.

However the main attention for 1993 circles around a huge driver swap between Lancia and Toyota. Juha Kankkunen and Didier Auriol move from Lancia to Toyota while Carlos Sainz moves vice versa (with Toyota’s Armin Schwarz replacing Salonen at Mitsubishi). This should have been the best comparison yet, giving us answers like "how far ahead of the opposition is Lancia really?" or "how much of Toyota's successes was down to that specific driver Carlos Sainz?", but instead it underlines a main, unique feature of rallying: "how different style driver, car & event combinations just may get on better or not at all!" In this case you combine the reigning WRChampion driver with the reigning WRChampion car - or indeed the dominating driver of the past 3 years with the dominating car of the past 6 years. Would you ever have thought that such combination would end in maximum disaster for both, driver and team, just as it did?!

Sure, 1993 was as well the end of Lancia's involvement in the WRC, but the Jolly Club and Abarth cooperated just as they did before. Plus there has been a major upgrade to the Delta just before the 1993 season: a power increase for new engine management and for the first time ever the Delta shows a sidepipe exhaust system on the asphalt events.

Yet this driver team swap was a big surprise. While the new drivers at Toyota settled in quick, they got their lifes made easy. Sainz in the Lancia Delta crashed out early and spectacularly with violent rolls on both his first starts in the car and never seemed to find back to form for the rest of the season. The icing on the cake of a rotten season was when the FIA robbed Lancia/Sainz of their best result of the season for apparently using illegal fuel, 2nd at home in San Remo. For me this was the most curious, if not to say stupid disqualification in WRC history except Ford in Monte Carlo 1987. This time not the cause was stupid, but the fact that the FIA decided so in February 1994! That meant the 1993 championship results were changed half a year later, when the 1994 championship was long under way and when nobody even remembered any more there was a problem in the San Remo 93 results!
 

1993 WRC Factory Team and Driver Line Ups :
 

Toyota Toyota, 1993 - TTE - Castrol Team Toyota Europe : 1st on 157 points.
 

 

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Ford Ford, 1993 - Ford RS Rallye Sport Team : 2nd on 151 points.
 

 

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Lancia Lancia, 1993 - Jolly Club Lancia : 3rd on 118 points.
 

 

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Subaru Subaru, 1993 - 555 Subaru Rally Team : 4th on 110 points.
 

 

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Mitsubishi Mitsubishi, 1993 - Mitsubishi Ralli Art Europe : 5th on 86 points.
 

 

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Mazda Mazda, 1993 - Mazda R. T. Italia / Dealer Sweden : 6th on 33 points.
 

 

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Audi Audi, 1993 - SMS Schmidt Motorsport : 7th on 26 points.
 

 

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Opel Opel, 1993 - GM Euro Dealers : 8th on 20 points.
 

 

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Renault Renault, 1993 - Régie Renault avec Diac : 9th on 8 points.
 

 

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Peugeot Peugeot, 1993 - Peugeot Sport : 10th on 5 points.
 

 

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