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Wayne Cunningham/CNET

New WRC generation at the Paris Motor Show

Ford, Citroen, and Mini all displayed WRC challengers at the 2010 Paris Motor Show.

Citroen DS3
Citroen showed off its DS3 WRC competitor at the Paris Motor Show. Wayne Cunningham/CNET

The World Rally Car competition has made cars such as the Subaru STI and Mitsubishi Evo famous, but the race, and the competitors have changed substantially over the years. Some of the newest competitors, set for a 2011 season with revised rules, were on display at the Paris Motor Show.

Through 2010, the Ford Focus and Citroen C4 had been dominating this series of races over gravel and snow-covered roads, but the 2011 rules have made those cars ineligible, with engine displacement reduced to 1.6-liters. These changed rules are intended to make the series more affordable for teams.

As such, carmakers are trotting out their economy models, fitting them with new gearboxes, as specified by the ruling body, modifying the chassis, and tuning their turbocharged 1.6-liter engines to the maximum 300 horsepower.

Ford and Citroen are back, this time with new models that fit the new regulations. Mini also announced an entrant, the new rules coinciding perfectly with its all-wheel-drive Countryman model.