Hyundai’s 2022 World Rally Championship campaign ended up being a record breaking one. Not in terms of championship trophies, instead because of how many individual rallies it won.
Thanks to Thierry Neuville and Ott Tänak, it won five rallies across the season – surpassing its old personal best of four.
But Hyundai still has some work to do if it wants to muscle its way to the top of the record books as the manufacturer with the most WRC wins in a single season.
Here’s where its current effort stacks up against other manufacturers in the all-time list, thanks as always to the industry-leading eWRC-results database.
Teams that won just one rally in a season, like Mercedes-Benz, Renault and Talbot, haven’t been included:
Datsun – 2 wins
Datsun’s forte in the WRC was often the long, tough and gruelling African events. But it did taste success elsewhere.
Take 1980 for example, where Timo Salonen guided his 160J to victory in New Zealand to complement Shekhar Mehta’s Safari Rally win earlier in the year.
The following season in 1981, Datsun matched its record with two WRC wins in a season and claimed them with the same two drivers. Mehta again won the Safari while Salonen took victory in the Ivory Coast.
Both 1981 wins were claimed in a Violet GT.
Opel – 2 wins
Although Opel was massively outgunned throughout the 1982 season by its four-wheel-drive rival Audi, it was Ascona pilot Walter Röhrl that walked away with the drivers’ title.
As he so often did, the clinical and comporsed Röhrl won the Monte, but wouldn’t win again until the Ivory Coast where title rival Michèle Mouton faltered.
Opel would win six rallies throughout its time as a manufacturer in the WRC, but 1982 was the only time it ever grabbed more than one victory in a season. It stands as its only world title too.
Mazda – 2 wins
Up against the mite of Lancia and the rising Toyota at the dawn of the Group A era, Mazda’s 323 4WD is often remembered as a cult classic but not necessarily a winner.
But in the hands of 1985 world champion Timo Salonen and Ingvar Carlsson, it did prove capable of beating the best of the best.
Carlsson is the driver responsible for earning Mazda its place on this list with his brace of victories in 1989 – at home in Sweden and then later in a Mazda 1-2 ahead of Rod Millen in New Zealand.
Mazda’s only other WRC victory came on Rally Sweden 1987 with Salonen.
Fiat – 5 wins
After three years of Lancia domination with the Stratos, Fiat got the better of its Italian rival through 1977 and ’78 with two consecutive manufacturers’ titles.
And in both of those years, the 131 Abarth hit the top step of the podium five times.
1978 is perhaps the more famous of the two years as Markku Alén, known as the only World Rally champion to then lose the title, won the Cup for Rally Drivers – ultimately the closest he would come to the world title.
Alén was one of several drivers to give Fiat five wins in a season though, along with Walter Röhrl, Bernard Darniche, Fulvio Bacchelli, Jean-Claude Andruet and Timo Salonen.
Hyundai – 5 wins
The team of the moment.
Hyundai had scored four wins (all courtesy of Thierry Neuville) in 2017 and another four in ’19 as a joint effort between Neuville and Dani Sordo.
But Neuville’s victory on Rally Japan to close out the 2022 season earned it its fifth win of the season – a remarkable feat given how desperate things looked on round one.
However Hyundai’s presence this far down the list does confirm that it lags behind its two rivals, Toyota and Ford, in these historical stakes.
Alpine – 6 wins
When the WRC was first created, with a championship for manufacturers’ only, in 1973, Alpine was the clear team to beat as it roared to the inaugural world title.
But it didn’t just win, it dominated with its A110 to win almost half of the season’s 13 events.
Jean-Luc Thérier delivered three of them in Portugal, Greece and Sanremo, while fellow Frenchmen Jean-Claude Andruet, Bernard Darniche and Jean-Pierre Nicolas all ensured Alpine a unique slice of history as the only manufacturer to have drivers win for it that were all of the same nationality as the manufacturer.
Remarkably, despite this success in 1973 Alpine would never win in the WRC again beyond the end of the year.
Audi – 7 wins
As the pioneer of four-wheel-drive in rallying, the second quarter of the 1980s undoubtedly belonged to Audi (even if it was beaten to the 1983 manufacturers’ title by Lancia).
With a well-sorted chassis and the undisputed benefit of better traction, Audi won seven rallies in 1982 and impressively repeated the feat two years later in 1984 when the opposition had strengthened.
Stig Blomqvist, Hannu Mikkola and Michèle Mouton were the winners across ’82 while Walter Röhrl joined in 1984 to form something of a super team – as proved by Audi locking out the podium on both of the first two rounds in Monte Carlo and Sweden.
Audi won both year’s manufacturers’ title, but Mikkola (1983) and Blomqvist (1984) were the only drivers to win championships with the marque.
Subaru – 7 wins
Think of Subaru and success, and for most the immediate image that will spring to mind is the Group A Impreza in 1995 where Colin McRae and Carlos Sainz won 62.5% of the rallies between them.
But in terms of rallies won, 1997 – the third and final of Subaru’s consecutive manufacturers’ championship winning seasons – stands as its best.
And it wasn’t just McRae doing the winning, although he was unequivocally the team’s number one driver. In fact, both of his team-mates Piero Liatti and Kenneth Eriksson actually won before McRae did, but regardless the new World Rally Car version of the Impreza won all three of the opening rounds in ’97.
McRae won Corsica, Sanremo, Australia and GB to add to his Safari Rally success but reliability woes meant he lost out on the drivers’ title to Mitsubishi’s Tommi Mäkinen by just one point.
Mitsubishi – 7 wins
For all of Tommi Mäkinen’s success at the end of the 1990s, Mitsubishi’s most successful season was ironically the year where Mäkinen’s drivers’ world title looked the most under threat: 1998.
That was partly down to Mäkinen who took a career-best five wins in a season that year, but also down to a more competitive team-mate in Richard Burns who really hit his stride.
Victories on the Safari Rally and Rally GB for Burns, added to Mäkinen’s haul from Sweden, Argentina, Finland, Sanremo and Australia gave Mitsubishi seven wins in a single season – matching arch rival Subaru’s record.
It meant that 1998 was the only season it ever won the manufacturers’ title.
Peugeot – 8 wins
Peugeot had two spells of dominance in the WRC – first in the 1980s with the Group B 205 T16 and then two decades later with the 206 WRC.
It managed seven wins in a season in ’85 with two victories for Ari Vatanen and five for world champion Timo Salonen – who became the first driver to win four on the bounce in WRC history – but surpassed that in 2002 thanks to Gilles Panizzi and world champion Marcus Grönholm.
The 206 WRC was simply irresistible 20 years ago. Panizzi was undefeated on pure asphalt with wins in Corsica, Spain and Sanremo while Grönholm proved to be the class of the field en route to his second world title – winning in Sweden, Cyprus, Finland, New Zealand and Australia.
Ford – 8 wins
Tying with Peugeot is Ford, which also secured its season-best win record with Marcus Grönholm as part of its driver lineup.
In fact, both seasons Ford had Grönholm, it secured eight wins over the season.
The winning was more one sided in 2006 as Grönholm won seven (including both of the first two), aided by title rival Sébastien Loeb’s absence from the back end of the season through injury. But team-mate Mikko Hirvonen did grab one in Australia.
In 2007 Grönholm’s haul was slimmed to five as Hirvonen grabbed three for himself – most impressively after a big fight in GB. Ford never got a drivers’ title throughout this period, but did win the manufacturers’ title in both seasons.
M-Sport’s record without official manufacturer backing was five in 2017 when Sébastien Ogier and Ott Tänak both won twice and Elfyn Evans netted one victory too.
Toyota – 9 wins
In some respects it’s rather ironic that Toyota’s highest ever win tally for a season came in 2021 when it used a car it didn’t really want to. The Yaris WRC was supposed to be retired and replaced by the GR Yaris WRC, but that never materialized owing to COVID-19.
As it was, it was a season dominated by Toyota as it won the manufacturers’ championship and scored first and second in the drivers’ championship for a second year running with Sébastien Ogier and Elfyn Evans.
Ogier did the lion’s share of the winning with five victories, but Evans grabbed a couple as did Kalle Rovanperä. Toyota’s chief rival, Hyundai, had the pace to win several more than the three events than it did, but suspension problems ruined those bids and made it simpler for Toyota to romp clear.
Toyota has consistently been a high scorer in terms of rally wins – winning seven rallies in both 1993 and this year in 2022.
Lancia – 10 wins
Lancia has enjoyed plenty of periods of sustained success in the WRC, firstly with the Stratos but mostly with the Group A Delta HF and later Integrale.
As Group B was scrapped and Group A was ushered in, Lancia was utterly dominant – winning six manufacturers titles on the trot and four drivers’ titles throughout that period too.
1988 was the tip of the iceberg though. Lancia won a frankly silly nine rallies in 1987 but went one better in ’88 when its drivers cleaned up on 10 events. That means there were only three occasions all year where a Delta didn’t win.
Miki Biasion, Markku Alén, Bruno Saby and Jorge Recalde were the drivers responsible, and held that record for some 17 years until some bloke called Sébastien Loeb came along…
Citroën – 11 wins
What makes this particular record of 11 wins so remarkable is, both times it achieved the milestone in a season, Sébastien Loeb was the only driver responsible for it. From 2005-2009, he was the only driver to win in a Citroën.
Loeb’s 2005 campaign was especially dominant, and off the back of his maiden world title in 2004 it was the first real sign that he was about to rewrite the WRC’s history books.
There were 16 rallies that year, but Loeb’s Xsara WRC topped 11 of them – shrugging off strong competition from Petter Solberg and Marcus Grönholm.
What Loeb managed in 2008 with a C4 was arguably more impressive though, as the season was just 15 rallies long. Both were truly special achievements, but weirdly for Loeb, don’t stand as a WRC record.
Volkswagen – 12 wins
That’s because Volkswagen managed to win 12 events (of a 13-round season); and not just once. But twice.
Frustratingly, the one event VW didn’t win in 2014 was its home rally in Germany. Sébastien Ogier crashed twice and Jari-Matti Latvala binned it on the final day.
But Ogier and Latvala won all 12 of the remaining rallies, while Andreas Mikkelsen got in on the action in 2015 for another near clean sweep too.
While it was Thierry Neuville and Hyundai that denied VW in 2014, it was Kris Meeke and Citroën in 2015 with victory on Rally Argentina – a rally where all three Polo Rs suffered fuel supply problems.
Knowing how professional and motivated to win the entire VW team was, it probably still annoys team members to this day to have missed out on a full 13.