Friday 19th January 1973
The inaugural World Rally Championship season began with the 42ème Rallye Automobile de Monte-Carlo. At this time, the Monte-Carlo rally was structured as a concentration rally, with teams beginning competition in some nine different cities, with the first objective of the rally being to reach Monte Carlo, followed by two legs of competitive special stages around Monaco and southeastern France. Traditionally run on tarmac roads commonly covered in snow and ice, especially at higher altitudes, bad weather did force cancellation of two special stages. In 1973, and for several years afterward, only manufacturers were given points for finishes in WRC events. Alpine Renault dominated the event, a portent of their further success during the season with their Alpine-Renault A110 1800 car. They would take all three podium positions (Jean-Claude Andruet, Ove Andersson and Jean-Pierre Nicolas) and five of the top six places.
The inaugural season comprised 13 events, of which seven have usually been part of the WRC schedule to this day; the Monte Carlo Rally, Swedish Rally, Rally Portugal, Acropolis Rally, 1000 Lakes Rally (now known as Rally Finland), RAC Rally (Wales Rally Great Britain) and Tour de Corse. Alpine-Renault won the manufacturer’s world championship, after which Lancia took the title three years in a row with the Lancia Stratos. The first drivers’ world championship was not awarded until 1979, although 1977 and 1978 seasons included an FIA Cup for Drivers, won by Italy’s Sandro Munari and Finland’s Markku Alén respectively. Sweden’s Björn Waldegård became the first official world champion.