2002 WRC Season Commentary

2002 WRC Summary by Chris Biewer :

The regulations stayed largly stable for the 2002 season, the only noteworthy change from 2001 is a return to teams being able to nominate 3 cars for manufacturer WRC points, of which the best 2 would score. This is in acknowledgement of the number of teams and the number of team drivers, including many youngsters being employed by the teams on more or less regular basis. The 2002 season calendar saw a few changes again. Most notably, the traditional Rally Portugal has been dropped in favour of the new Rallye Deutschland. The Tour de Corse has been moved forward again to a spring date, while the Rally NZ moved closer to the Rally Australia to help logistical matters.

.

Since 1999 the driver market has been relatively calm. This might have contributed to one of the most active driver market and driver changes ever leading the 2002 season. The most spectacular change was that of Richard Burns moving to Peugeot. Burns was unhappy with Subaru's performance, reliability and team atmosphere and signed a Peugeot contract already halfway through 2001 – only to carry on and become the 2001 WRChampion. Now Subaru took legal action against Burns, despite having already signed 4 times WRChampion Tommi Mäkinen as Burns' replacement. Such Subaru had the 'success' of preventing Burns from carrying out any tests with his new team and car all winter, effectively spoiling his early season performances.

Not only Mäkinen left Mitsubishi despite - or because of - the team having just replaced their group A car by a Lancer built according to the freer WRCar regulations. Freddy Loix moved to Hyundai, such Mitsubishi was in need of an all new driver line up. They employed Francois Delecour, who fell out with Ford and Alister McRae from Hyundai. Delecour was at Ford replaced by Markko Märtin, who only had one unhappy season at Subaru, while at Hyundai Kenneth Eriksson moved away for Skoda. This meant alongside Mitsubishi also Hyundai was in need of an all new driver line up, employing Armin Schwarz from Skoda alongside Loix. To close the circle, Burns replaced Didier Auriol at Peugeot, who then was without a drive.

Citroën surprised everyone with their choice of events. Corsica was their home event and clearly the car was an asphalt ace. So how come Citroën never planned doing their strong or home events but sent cars to Sweden, Acropolis, Safari, Finland, Australia. Simple, for Citroën 2002 was not about looking good but about learning for their full attempt in 2003!

Peugeot had a most amazing season. Memories of the legendary Peugeot 205 T16 came up again. Peugeot was hunting records and indeed topped Lancia's team record of 7 1-2 double-victories in one season by 2! Yes, amazing dominance, 9 times full scores, this is in a 14 rounds calendar only 5 events in which another car but Peugeot got into the top2. Further remarkable, Lancia's record dates back to the early group A days and there is not the slightest doubt that to beat that record, Peugeot had far stronger opposition in quantity as well as quality than Lancia had at the time of setting the previous benchmark.
 

2002 WRC Factory Team and Driver Line Ups :
 

Peugeot Peugeot, 2002 - Peugeot Sport with Total : 1st on 165 points.
 

 

No

Team Driver

Commentary
Ford Ford, 2002 - Martini Ford RS Rallye Sport Team : 2nd on 104 points.
 

 

No

Team Driver

Commentary
Subaru Subaru, 2002 - 555 Subaru World Rally Team : 3rd on 67 points.
 

 

No

Team Driver

Commentary
Hyundai Hyundai, 2002 - Hyundai Castrol World Rally Team : 4th on 10 points.
 

 

No

Team Driver

Commentary
Skoda Skoda, 2002 - Skoda Motorsport World Rally Team : 5th on 9 points.
 

 

No

Team Driver

Commentary
Mitsubishi Mitsubishi, 2002 - Marlboro Mitsubishi Ralli Art Eur. : 6th on 9 points.
 

 

No

Team Driver

Commentary