The 2018 season is about to start, with nearly a month left to the first event of the year in the iconic Monte Carlo location, and it promises to be full of amazing battles and epic returns. Here is what you do not have to miss for the next WRC season.
1. Sebastien Loeb’s part-time return to World Rally Championship scene
The recordman will drive a C3 WRC for selected events - Mexico, Corsica and Spain - alongside teammate Kris Meeke.
The nine-times world Rally champion had already tested the car in 2017 both on gravel and asphal, and as Citroën Team principal Yves Matton said: ‘’Seb confirmed he has lost none of his speed and skill during the test sessions, although he is bound to be short of knowledge of the stages and time in the car, compared with the increasingly tough competition’’.
About his 2018 WRC programme Loeb said: ’’I don't have any expectations, I just want to enjoy myself.‘’
‘’I thought it made sense to take part in the French round, especially since I've always loved racing on Tarmac, although I'm not familiar with the current route of the Tour de Corse. Spain seemed like a good option too.’’
"I also wanted to contest a gravel rally. We opted for Mexico, since I have good memories of racing there and the route hasn't changed too much since I was last involved in the championship."
Here you will find some pictures of Loeb’s test with the C3 WRC in 2017
2. Andreas Mikkelsen’s return for a full-time programme in WRC
The Norwegian, who was the only ex VW driver who had not been able to find a seat in a WRC car for the 2017 season, will now return in the top class for a full-time programme with Hyundai Motorsport, alongside 2017 runner-up Thierry Neuville, with Dani Sordo and Hayden Paddon sharing the third i20 coupe WRC.
He began the 2017 season in a Skoda Fabia R5 in WRC2, then managed to get a part-time programme with Citroën in WRC, during which he obtained a second-place finish in ADAC Rallye Deutschland. He made his debut for Hyundai team at the 2017 Rally Catalunya, replacing Paddon in the line-up.
‘’When I signed for Volkswagen all those years ago, I signed as a junior driver who wanted to prove himself".
"I think I did that, and now I sign with Hyundai to win the world championship.’’
"This is what I want and this team has given me the chance to go out and do it.’’
"It's like starting the second half of my career."
3. Ott Tanak to join Toyota Motorsport for 2018
The Estonian driver will compete in the 2018 Championship in a Yaris WRC alongside Esapekka Lappi and Jari-Matti Latvala, replacing Juho Hänninen in the line-up.
‘’I know that Ott doesn't have the massive victories and I would say that this keeps him more hungry further into the future," Makinen told Autosport.
"That is a little bit why Toyota is supporting quite a lot to bring new and younger drivers, this is their philosophy.’’
Tanak was the author of two WRC victories this year, in Sardinia and in Germany and finished third in the Championship with 191 points.
2018 WRC Calendar
Monte-Carlo 25 - 28 January
Sweden 15 - 18 February
Mexico 8 - 11 March
France 5 - 8 April
Argentina 26 - 29 April
Portugal 17 - 20 May
Italy 7 - 10 June
Finland 26 - 29 July
Germany 16 -19 August
Turkey 13 - 16 September
Great Britain 4 - 7 October
Spain 25 - 28 October
Australia 15 - 18 November