Looks like things are hotting up at the World Rally Championship (WRC)! We’ve seen Mini make a reasonable return to rallying recently, and we’ve also received confirmation that Volkswagen (VW) are to return to the WRC in 2013 with the VW Polo R. Now we’re hearing rumors that Fiat’s resurrection of the Abarth badge will be more than just a performance badge with the Fiat Grande Punto Abarth also slated to enter the WRC in 2013 or 2014! Not that the Fiat Grande Punto Abarth has shied away from the dirt tracks; in fact the Fiat Grande Punto Abarth has been having a very successful campaign in the European Rally Championship (ERC), having won the Driver’s Championship in 2006, 2009 and 2010! It will also mark the return of the Fiat Abarth to the WRC since the early 1980s when the Fiat Group switched from the Fiat 131 Abarth to the Lancia Delta.
Fiat recently resurrected the legendary Abarth badge when they displayed the Fiat Grande Punto Abarth at the Geneva Motor Show earlier this year. As you probably know, the Abarth badge has been synonymous with Fiat’s endeavors in the field of motorsport since the 1970s when it became part of the Fiat group. Previously, Abarth had been one of the most successful tuners in Italy. After its acquisition by Fiat, Abarth became the car manufacturer’s racing department and were responsible for Fiat’s rally cars, of which the Fiat 124 Abarth and the iconic Fiat 131 Abarth were most prominent. In fact the Fiat 131 Abarth won the Manufacturer’s World Rally Championship in 1977, 1978 and 1980, and won the Driver’s Championship with Markku Alén in 1978 and Walter Röhrl in 1980. In the 1980s Abarth became a performance badge for cars such as the like Fiat Ritmo Abarth 130 TC before disappearing in the 1990s.