The WRC turns 50 in 2022!
To celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the World Rally Championship in 2022, we offer you a retrospective of events and best drivers of the last 50 years, followed with some development insight from our Level Design team
Throwback in time
Acropolis 1973 – By the 1960s, car manufacturers realized how much it was in their interests to advance the discipline. By developing cars adapted to these events, their role quickly became predominant and the WRC was initially the International Brands Championship (CIM). In 1973, for this very first season of the World Rally Championship, the Alpine A110 “berlinette” seemed to be the best equipped to offer the title to its manufacturer, Renault Alpine.
Sanremo 81 – Alongside the constructors’ championship, in 1979 the International Sports Commission (CSI) set up a real championship dedicated to pilots. In 1981, Michèle Mouton won the San Remo driving the Audi quattro Sport, thus becoming the first (and only) woman in history to win a round of the World Rally Championship. At the start of the fifth and final stage, Michèle Mouton and Ari Vatanen are neck to neck: Although equipped with 4-wheel drive, the Audi Quattro is less agile than the Ford Escort on steep and asphalt roads. Vatanen took the lead 8 seconds ahead of his rival, when the front of his car brushed against the parapet and struck a protruding stone. He was forced to finish the stage at a slower pace, while Michèle Mouton soared to victory.
Kenya 93 – When you think of Rally Kenya in1993, you almost immediately imagine the stunning shot of Reinhard Klein. Ian Duncan and his Toyota Celica GT-Four ST185 take off against the backdrop of Kilimanjaro, admired by two Maasai who have come to enjoy the show. This photo was taken during testing, not the actual rally. Reinhard Klein, in an interview with franceracing, explains to them:
“The ultimate challenge was to get the Maasai to the side of the road. Of course, they wanted to be paid, but the problem was that they were afraid when the car came at full speed. Normally they are used to vehicles traveling at 50 km/h. It was reaching 170 km/h as the jump approached… And they ran away! We told them we didn’t have the photo yet because they were gone, but they told us we only paid for a snapshot.
We therefore had to renegotiate, take a few photos and pay for them on each visit. They had to get used to the speed, stand in the right place and not run away. It took a few tries, but eventually all the pieces came together. The Maasai were used to speed, they stayed put, they knew they were safe, the car jumped out correctly and Kilimanjaro was in bright sunshine. ”
The 90s were also the scene of crazy races: The Rally Argentina in 1994 goes down in history with a difference of 6s at the finish between the duos Auriol-Occelli and Sainz-Moya. Rally Argentina follows Rally Sanremo 1976 (4s gap) as the rally with the smallest gap at the finish. In the end, Didier Auriol wins this stage, driving his Toyota Celica 4WD.
Germany 2002 – ADAC Rallye Deutschland became a round of the world rally championship in 2002 replacing that of Portugal. A round that particularly smiles on Sébastien Loeb, since he will remain the sole winner of the event for 9 years in a row after a first victory in 2002. The Arena Panzerplatte of Rally Germany reproduced on a 1:1 scale is moreover the most played special of WRC 9!
The turn of the century marked the dawn of the many titles won by Sébastien Loeb: He won his first title of world constructor champion in the Argentina rally in 2004, alongside his co-driver Daniel Elena.
And on the development side? Patrick Chastel, Lead Level Designer on WRC 10, explains:
One of the difficulties that may have been faced is the referrals. Some rallies are very old, and we have very few videos and photos. Fortunately, WRC Promoter provided us with a lot of images, which allowed us to soak up the vibe of the time.
Today the atmosphere is a little different, depending on the era, there were a little less rules surrounding the competitions. There have been significant changes in the disposition and safety of the public, for example. And we put emphasis on it! This is something rally players are not used to seeing. We compromised on the vibe of the time, without putting the audience in too dangerous situations. We try to convey a “sympathetic” and benevolent side that can be found in the world of rallying. One of the perks of working in car games is that there is no violence!
Another very nice point was to find old rallies, notably San Remo and Acropolis (before it appears in the official calendar again this year). Recreating legendary rallies, which have thrilled fans, immersing themselves in the history of the WRC by taking the reins of a vintage car, with a vintage driver is fantastic! Sanremo, for example, is an iconic place; not being able to play this special in the WRC games would have been a real shame! ”.
How is a special created? Elodie Jean, WRC and Environment Artist Referent, explains:
“Acropolis and Sanremo were the first two new countries and historic rallies to be born for WRC 10. First and foremost, it’s the Level Designers and Graphic Designers who choose an interesting location. Then, the graphic designers produce a relief terrain with the help of geo-location tools. Level Designers lay the groundwork, then it’s the designers’ turn to make everything look pretty, while telling stories around level design. The production period is quite short, so the challenge is to offer visually interesting spots such as the village of Sanremo or the Acropolis monastery, while respecting time constraints. Time pushes us to get to the point, but that’s also how good ideas are born. ”
WRC 10 is available on PlayStation®4, PlayStation®5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PC and on Nintendo Switch™ at a later date.
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