World Rally Championship (WRC) is a rallying series organised by the FIA, culminating with a champion driver and manufacturer. The driver’s championship and manufacturer’s championship are separate championships, but based on the same point system. This means, for example, that Petter Solberg driving for Subaru can win the driver’s championship but Citroën can win the manufacturer’s championship, which is what happened in 2003. The competition first received the designation of WRC in 1973. The sport’s commercial rights are administered by International Sportsworld Communicators.
The Championship currently features 16 rallies and production-based 2.0 L turbocharged four-wheel drive cars built to World Rally Car regulations racing across tarmac, gravel and snow. The power output has been limited to around 300 bhp (225 kW). Current cars in the championship include the Citroën Xsara, Ford Focus RS, Peugeot 307, Škoda Fabia, Subaru Impreza, and Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution. Citroën, Peugeot, Škoda and Mitsubishi have pulled out of the championship for 2006 and those cars, although in use by privateers, are not in further development. Citroën will be returning to WRC in 2007 using the C4. Suzuki plan to take part in 2008 using the SX4.
The WRC was formerly held for Group A and Group B rallycars. However, due to the increasing power, lack of reliability and the fatal accidents on the 1986 season, Group B was permanently banned. Later, in 1997, the Group A cars evolved into the WRC car spec, to ease the development of new cars and bring new makes to the competition.
The World Rally Championship also features classes called the Production World Rally Championship and the Junior World Rally Championship.
The 2006 rallies were, in order, Monte Carlo, Sweden, Mexico, Spain, France, Argentina, Italy, Greece, Germany, Finland, Japan, Cyprus, Turkey, Australia, New Zealand and Great Britain.
2007 will see several new rounds introduced to the championship. These will include Norway, Portugal and Ireland. Cyprus & Turkey are the rounds to be replaced for the 2007 season. Also in 2007 the Australian rally will not be run, but will return in 2008 and will be relocated to the state of Queensland, reportedly through to 2011, after previously being held in the state of Western Australia since 1988.