Abarth Punto S2000

It wasn't that long ago that things didn't look so good for the World Rally Championship. Automakers were dropping out of the series like so many flies, while other manufacturers were heading to the rival Intercontinental Rally Challenge. But things have turned around for the WRC.

While Citroën continues to dominate over Ford, Mini has joined the fight, and Volkswagen is on its way in as well. Now word comes in that Fiat could be preparing to take part, as well, with its Abarth performance brand.

Abarth 500 R3TAbarth has been contesting IRC and national rally championships with the Punto S2000 (pictured above) with considerable success, as well as mounting its own rally, touring car and junior formula spec series. But evidently looking for a new challenge, rumor has it that the Scorpion marque will challenge its European rivals on the world rally stage as soon as 2013 or maybe 2014.

If and when it does, the Punto Abarth will likely be adapted to WRC specifications (which now closely mirror the S2000 spec used in the IRC), as opposed to upgrading the 500 R3T (pictured at right) used in some lower-level rally events. We'll have to wait for official confirmation, but one thing's for sure: the competition in the WRC is getting fiercer by the day.