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  Home > Seasons > Season 2006
Loebs third
At the start of the season, championship was on a verge of dying. Peugeot, Mitsubishi and Skoda had all pulled out, Citroen had taken a year off and only Subaru and Ford remained as full works teams. Two-times world champion Loeb had a full WRC programme at Kronos but how good would the team be and could aging Xsara stay on the pace with newer cars? Doubts about the season eased soon as FIA's new rule about Manufacturer 2 teams attracted three private teams that pledged to almost full campaigns each.

When title fight was over and Loeb had clinched his third consecutive drivers' title, he became only second man to do so alongside Tommi Makinen. Season had been two-horse race really, in two senses. In drivers' championship, Gronholm took an early lead but got soon passed by Loeb and frenchman's consistency (he scored nothing but 1st and 2nd places!) triumphed even though Sebastien broke his arm and had to rest for the four final rallies of the season. In makes' championship, Ford and Kronos Citroen were engaged in similar battle but in the end Ford won their first manufacturers' title since 1979.

Subaru never got into swing, missing wins completely and were almost outscored by one of the new private teams - the OMV Peugeot Norway, run by Bozian Racing. For veteran privateer Manfred Stohl, season 2006 was a tremendous success.

Besides the changes in teams described above and some rule changes, not much changed.

One of the curiosities of the season was the exceptionally low number of retirements. With the introduction of super-rally rules, retirement ratio had shrunk much already in 2005 but the drop was again drastic. In comparison, the lowest retirement ratio in a single rally of 2005 season had been 25% at Cyprus, in 2006 only three rallies had more than that!

New cars
In the top formula of the sport, World Rally Cars, the only really new car of the season was Subaru's new-look Impreza WRC2006. Sadly for Prodrive, it became the first Subaru rally car that had not won a single WRC event. In fact, it never even was in position to do so. Ford's championship winning Focus RS 06 WRC had debuted already in 2005 so there was very little new in the rally car front. Other manufacturers only made the necessary adjustments to their cars following the ban on active front and rear differentials.

The only exception was the surge of interest in Super 2000 cars, two of which even ran in WRC events. Fiat Punto Abarth S2000 in Turkey and Toyota Corolla S2000 in Rally GB.

2006 champions
(Click picture to see larger version in a pop-up window)
2006 FIA World Rally Champions, Sebastien Loeb and Daniel Elena Click picture to see larger version in a pop-up window
Drivers scoring their
first win
  M. Hirvonen (Australia)
first drivers' point
  D. Sordo Castillo (Monte Carlo)
  K. Katajamaki (Sweden)
  G. MacHale (Mexico)
  M. Wilson (Argentina)
  K. Sohlberg (Sardinia)
  A. Aigner (Deutschland)
  F. Nutahara (Japan)
  D. Herridge (Australia)
  M. Baldacci (Australia)
  J. Latvala (Australia)
first stage win
  M. Stohl (Monte Carlo)
  D. Sordo Castillo (Catalunya)
  X. Pons (Argentina)
  H. Solberg (Argentina)
  M. Wilson (Argentina)
  J. Kopecky (Sardinia)