Peugeot 307 WRC - The Only Cabriolet-based World Rally Car
The Peugeot 307 WRC is a rally car which competed in the World Rally Championship for only two seasons (2004 and 2005) as a factory entry, replacing the championship-winning Peugeot 206 WRC.
The 307 WRC scored three WRC wins in a hands of Marcus Gronholm, before Peugeot left the world championship at the end of 2005. After that, the car was used by private teams since 2010.
Marketing department wanted a coupe-cabrio as a rally car
After running with 206 WRC from 1999 to 2003, and winning three manufacturers’ and two drivers’ titles in that period, Peugeot decided to replace a successful car with a bigger model. Because of marketing reason’s, Peugeot’s new World Rally Car was based on 307 CC, a cabriolet with a retractable hard top which was launched in August 2003.
The rally version of 307 CC was extensively modified. A retractable hard top has been welded and fixed, to accommodate a safety roll cage inside a car. The 2.0-litre 4-cylinder turbo engine, which produced 180 hp in a road-legal car, was pumped up to 300 hp.
In the 307 WRC, Peugeot was using a 5-speed Hewland sequential gearbox, which was located at the rear of the engine in a transverse position, contrary to the one on the 206 WRC, which was in a longitudinal position. The power was transferred to all four wheels. All three differentials – front, centre and rear – were electronically managed.
Six drivers were driving 307 WRC in a debut season
With Marcus Gronholm in the #5 car and Freddy Loix in the #6 car, Peugeot 307 WRC had a competitive debut at 2004 Rallye Monte Carlo. A debut was pretty satisfying, as Gronholm finished fourth and Loix was fifth.
Gronholm and his navigator Timo Rautianinen spent a full season in a red-coloured Marlboro Total #5 Peugeot, while the #6 was driven by Freddy Loix (3 events), Harri Rovanpera (11 events) and Cedric Robert (2 events). The team also fielded additional cars for Sebastian Lindholm and Daniel Carlsson in one event for each.
Maiden podium in Sweden, maiden victory in Finland
Marcus Gronholm scored a maiden podium in the second championship round, the Swedish Rally, where he finished second behind Sebastien Loeb. Two more second-place finishes followed at Rally New Zealand and Rally of Turkey before Gronholm scored a maiden win for 307 WRC at his home event, the Rally Finland.
Until the end of the season, Gronholm added one more podium to his account, finishing fifth in the final standings. Of other drivers, Harri Rovanpera scored two podiums, finishing third in Greece and second in Australia, to end a season in the 8th place. In the Manufacturers’ championship, Peugeot finished fourth in the points.
Michael Park’s death overshadowed the 2005 season
In the 2005 WRC season, Marcus Gronholm and Timo Rautianinen stayed with the team in the #7 Peugeot 307 WRC, being joined by Markko Märtin and Michael ‘Beef’ Park in the #8 car. Gronholm reached five podiums before scoring the second victory for 307 WRC, again winning his home event in Finland. Märtin added four podiums to Peugeot’s account.
And then, one of darkest days in a history of Peugeot’s WRC participation followed. On September 18, 2005, at Wales Rally GB, during the special stage 15, Märtin ‘s car went sideways and hit a tree. Michael Park was killed instantly, Markko Märtin was uninjured. The rest of event was cancelled.
Gronholm scored three WRC wins with 307
In the next event, the Rally Japan, Gronholm scored the third and final WRC victory for Peugeot 307 WRC. After an accident in Wales, Markko Märtin withdrew from the championship, being replaced by Daniel Carlsson and Nicolas Bernardi in the #8 car.
At the end of the season, Gronholm finished third in the standings, tied in the points with Petter Solberg. The team finished in the second place among six teams, being beaten only by Citroen.
At the end of the season, both Citroen and Peugeot withdrew their factory teams from the WRC. Citroen continued to compete through a semi-factory team Kronos Racing while Peugeot was represented by OMV Peugeot Norway World Rally Team. Two cars, prepared by Bozian Racing, were driven by Manfred Stohl and Henning Solberg. Nicolas Bernardi replaced Solberg in one event.
Seven podiums by privateers in 2006
Manfred Stohl managed to score four podiums with #7 Peugeot 307 WRC, finishing fourth in the final standings. Henning Solberg was on the podium one time, finishing 8th in the points. The team was fourth among six teams which participated in the 2006 WRC season.
Some other privateers were running with 307 WRC in 2006. Toni Gardemeister participated in three events with that car, while Gigi Galli was using a car in four events. Both of them reached one podium, Gardemeister in the season-opening Rallye Monte-Carlo, Galli at Rally Argentina. Two French drivers, Alexandre Bengue and Nicolas Vouilloz, were also using 307 WRC in a couple of rallies.
Peugeot 307 had the last WRC appearance in 2010
In 2007, two 307 WRCs appeared at Rallye Monte-Carlo, driven by Jean-Marie Cuoq and Philippe Roux. That year, Cuoq won the French Gravel Rally Championship with 307 WRC. He returned one more time to Monte Carlo Rally with 307 WRC in 2008 and participated two years later at Rally Portugal. In 2010, Hungarian driver Frigyes Turan participated in three WRC events with Peugeot 307 WRC and it were the last entries of 307 WRC in the World Rally Championship.
Peugeot 307 WRC concluded its WRC career with three wins and 23 podiums. It was the last Peugeot’s car in a top class of world rallying as the French factory never returned to the championship with a World Rally Car. Currently, Peugeot has R2 and R5 rally versions of 208 model.
|Chassis||Unitary steel body|
|Engine||1,997 ccm, 4-cylinder, turbo charged|
|Power/torque||300 hp/580 Nm|
|Transmission||all-wheel drive, electronically controlled diffs|
|Gearbox||Hewland 5-speed sequential|
|Suspension||McPherson struts, shock absorbers|
|Brakes||ventilated discs front, solids rear|