The reliability of new aerodynamic appendices was one of the main concerns the designers of new cars had in mind at the beginning of the 2017 season. Tom Fowler (Toyota), Laurent Fregosi (Citroen), Chris Williams (M-Sport), Michael Nandan (Hyundai) or even François Xavier Demaison (VW), all coincided in their pursuit of a balance between performance and durability during the design process.
Now that the season is over, and M-Sport and Sebastian Ogier have been crowned as Team and Driver Champions, it’s time to evaluate who did best in terms of durability.
M-Sport World Rally Team
The British team has proven to be the most affected by the poor durability of their aero appendices. And, what is worse, due to problems with fixation system, rather than driving incidents. Loss of rear diffuser by Evans and Østberg in Argentina, Ogier in Wales and multiple losses of Ogier and Tänak in Australia proved that the fixing system of the diffuser should be improved.
S.Ogier/J.Ingrassia, Ford Fiesta WRC, 2017 Wales Rally, 3rd – Picture from plus.wrc.com
E.Evans/D.Barritt, Ford Fiesta WRC, Rally Argentina 2017, 2nd
Also, the sudden loss of rear wing by Østberg in Sweden or Tänak in Poland caused these drivers to find a sudden lack of downforce in the rear of the car, which forced them to reduce their pace, although fortunately with no other incidents associated.
M.Østberg/O.Floene, Ford Fiesta WRC, Rally Sweden 2017, 15th.
O.Tänak/M.Järveoja, Ford Fiesta WRC, Rally Poland 2017, ret. – Picture by Tomasz Kalinski
Sebastien Ogier also suffered from losing front bumper and splitter in Poland and Australia, some of the most demanding rallies of the year in terms of durability.
S.Ogier/J.Ingrassia, Ford Fiesta WRC, Rally of Australia 2017, 4th
Many incidents also involved Hyundai drivers, although most of them caused by their too optimistic driving attitude, rather than to poor fixing. Front and rear wheel arches have been the most commonly affected areas of the car.
A.Mikkelsen/A.Jaeger, Hyundai i20 Coupé WRC, Rally Australia 2017, 13th
T.Neuville/N.Gilsoul, Hyundai i20 Coupé WRC, Rally Argentina 2017, 1st.
Dani Sordo suffered in México the only incident involving rear wing, when he suddenly lost part of it, probably because of a side collision.
D.Sordo/M.Martí, Hyundai i20 Coupé WRC, Rally of México 2017, 8th
Coincidence or not, Hyundai spent one of his jokers in Catalunya by introducing a new rear wing with stronger supports.
Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT
The French team has suffered multiple losses of aero appendices, most of them by Kris Meeke. Up to three times (Argentina, Sardegna and Wales) he has lost partly or completely his rear wing, while in three other occasions (Argentina, Finland and Australia) has he damaged his front bumper and splitter, and also has damaged his rear diffuser twice (Sardegna and Wales).
K.Meeke/P.Nagle, Citroën C3 WRC, 2017 Wales Rally, 7th. – Picture by Autosport
The picture above corresponds to 2017 Wales Rally. After losing part of his rear wing, Meeke declared: “No offense to the engineers but I don’t think the downforce is having much effect as the times are similar but it’s a bit more exciting!”
Front splitter has been put in question as also Breen, Lefebvre and Mikkelsen suffered from losing it in Argentina, Monte Carlo or Poland.
S.Lefebvre/G.Moreau, Citroën C3 WRC, Rallye Monte Carlo 2017, 9th. – picture by Zbyszek Bury – ewrc-results.com
A.Mikkelsen/A.Jaeger, Citroën C3 WRC, Rally Poland 2017, 9th – picture by David Bogumil – ewrc-results.com
Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT
The cars of the Japanese manufacturer have rarely suffered from losing aerodynamic appendices all over the year. Main incidents involved front wheel arches and slight damage of side skirts. But no big issues have been reported about the rear wing or rear diffuser, and rarely they lost their front splitter, such as Hänninen in Argentina.
J.Hänninen/K.Lindströom, Toyota Yaris WRC, Rally Argentina 2017, 7th – picture by Michelin
Also in Argentina Jari Matti Latvala lost one of his rear wheel arches.
J.M.Latvala/M.Anttila, Toyota Yaris WRC, Rally Argentina 2017, 5th. – picture by Rodrigo Montecinos – ewrc-results.com
However, Toyota aero appendices have proven to be resistant to collisions and fire.
J.Hänninen/K.Lindström, Toyota Yaris WRC, Rallye Deutschland 2017, 4th.
For such a great performance on durability, we give Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT the 2017 World Aero reliability Trophy. Although Jari Matti accident in the very last stage of the year almost changes this classification…..
J.M.Latvala/M.Anttila, Toyota Yaris WRC, Rally Australia 2017, ret.
On the other hand, Kris Meeke obtains the Trophy for the 2017 Best aero appendices enemy, due to the higher number of incidents the British driver had during all year. As a single example, the way he left his car after one of his incidents in Rally Argentina, as shown below.
K.Meeke/P.Nagle, Citroën C3 WRC, Rally Argentina 2017, ret.
Rally Argentina also obtains this Trophy, as the rally with the higher number of incidents related to aerodynamics, closely followed by Poland and Australia.