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  Home > Seasons > Season 1999
If 1998 was season of thawing, 1999 was almost boiling. Strong teams of old; Ford, Mitsubishi, Subaru and Toyota were joined by several newcomers. Seat had not very strong season but was steadily scoring points and making progress. Skoda had somewhat shaky start for the season but given their humble beginnings, team was a welcome addition. But the big news was Peugeot who moved to top formula with a bang.

Unfortunately Toyota decided to quit the WRC at the end of season, quoting that "all that can be achieved has been achieved". TTE's departure left huge void which, as is seen in next season, was more than amply filled by Peugeot. Revelation of the season was Richard Burns who had stepped out from shadow of Tommi and immediately finished as runner-up in the championship.

A historical curiosity of the 1999 season is Citroen's two wins with F2 Xsara Kit Car.

Tommi equals Juha
Fourth consecutive championship title elevated Tommi equal with Juha Kankkunen in number of titles. Title was hard fought between Tommi and Didier Auriol through-out the seasons, two competitors having been on equal points twice during the season (after rallies of Argentina and China). Despite the tight fight, title was decided already in Australia after Auriol's retirement and Tommi's third place.

In manufacturers Toyota lifted the title and bowed out. In the light of season's statistics, Toyota's title was somewhat unlikely. With only one win against five for Subaru, Toyota made up this deficit by superior podium and points finishing record. Subaru lost the title by four points and had their early season been only a bit better the story could have been different.

New cars
Two very exciting new cars made debut in 1999. First was Ford Focus which replaced long-serving Escort and coupled with mega star McRae, team scored wins in only car's third and fourth outings. Unfortunately for them, these remained just about their only bright moments of the season as mechanical failures and driver errors wrecked the rest of the season.

Another new blockbuster was Peugeot 206WRC. Beforehand it was expected that level of Peugeot's professionalism would be very high and competition would make a leap with their involvement. And when french lion entered the arena, they indeed were very competitive. Car did not win, yet, but was on pace immediately. Unfortunately, it also turned out to be somewhat fragile.

Mitsubishi and Subaru also had new cars but these were evolutions of existing cars than completely new ones and same applied to new Seat Cordoba Evo2. Skoda Octavia WRC is a different story though it was partly based on old Octavia kit-car.

(Click picture to see larger version in a pop-up window)
Makinen and Mannisenmaki, 1999 FIA World Rally Champions Click picture to see larger version in a pop-up window
Drivers scoring their
first win
  P. Bugalski (Catalunya)
first drivers' point
  P. Solberg (Safari)
  M. Martin (Acropolis)
  L. Kirkos (Acropolis)
  T. Gardemeister (New Zealand)
  V. Isik (China)
first stage win
  H. Rovanpera (Monte Carlo)
  T. Gardemeister (Finland)