1996 WRC Season Commentary

1996 WRC Summary by Chris Biewer :

In the last season of the rota system, we are missing out on some real classics, Monte Carlo, Portugal, Corsica, New Zealand and GB. These are the only rounds that haven't missed out in the previous 2 years and so the rota has at least been fair to the events. There is one new event, Indonesia, added as well, exploring into the so far largely ignored Asian continent. This extends the 1996 calendar to 9 events.

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There was little change in the car specifications as major rule changes are expected after the season. There were some major events in the driver line up, tho. The Toyota ban leaves all 3 Toyota works drivers from 1995 without a works drive. Armin Schwarz does the ERC instead and becomes European Rally Champion in a Toyota. Juha Kankkunen has a few WRC drives in privately entered Toyotas. Didier Auriol appears as a guest driver at Subaru and Mitsubishi. Mitsubishi concentrates very much on Tommi Mäkinen only, sometimes even entering only one car. Richard Burns does the Asia-Pacific Championship for the Mitsubishi works team and therefore does the WRC events in the APC region as well as Catalunya. Mitsubishi's Kenneth Eriksson moves to Subaru where he replaces Carlos Sainz, who returns to Ford.

At Ford however there is confusion. With Carlos Sainz new (back) to the team, they start the year without Bruno Thiry but with Ford's long term driver Francois Delecour. Francois doesn't even have a Ford contract when he starts for the team in Sweden and after the event he is told that he won't get a contract! Francois returns to Peugeot who can only offer him outings in an F2 rocket and mainly in the French Championship. When asphalt ace Delecour competed in Sweden, Swedish youngtimer Stig Blomqvist was then Ford's #2 for the Safari - very clever, not! In Indonesia Gwyndaf Evans then is the #2 driver and from round 4 that position is given to Bruno Thiry, who had been sacked before the season. Now if this is no confused management, nothing is!

In titles, Tommi Mäkinen surprisingly dominates the drivers title bit, while reigning champ Colin McRae has a troubled season. In the makes all the above already shows where it had to go. Mitsubishi concentrating on one driver only, Toyota banned and Ford in a massive management mess, if Subaru didn’t win that one it would have been a miracle!
 

1996 WRC Factory Team and Driver Line Ups :
 

Subaru Subaru, 1996 - 555 Subaru Rally Team : 1st on 401 points.
 

 

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Mitsubishi Mitsubishi, 1996 - Mitsubishi Ralli Art Europe : 2nd on 322 points.
 

 

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Ford Ford, 1996 - Ford RS Rallye Sport Team : 3rd on 299 points.
 

 

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