As M-Sport’s Richard Millener said to the crowd of fan’s on the Autosport stage. “Birmingham is the new Monte Carlo” As all the WRC teams & drivers unveiled their new machines for the 2018 title fight, at the Official WRC 2018 season launch, at the Autosport International show at the NEC. The WRC stole the show with confirmations and announcements.
So whats new for 2018?
First of all, the WRC promoters have made a ground-breaking announcement, that every stage, of every Rally will be broadcast live offering over 25 hours of coverage on every round of the WRC on their ‘WRC Plus’ subscription part of the WRC.com website.
WRC Promoter managing director Oliver Ciesla said, “WRC fans now have the choice and flexibility to join the live action at any time during a rally weekend,” he said. “Fans can choose to watch the stages they like best and enjoy unprecedented live access to the service areas, whenever they want and from wherever they are.”
M-Sport Ford World Rally Team
M-Sport get additional support from Ford Performance, which was the key to keeping their World Rally Champion driver Sebastien Ogier. Joining him will be Welsh man & Wales Rally GB winner Elfyn Evans for all rounds.
Joining them in a third car for 8 rounds will be rising finnish star Teemu Suninen after his impressive performance in Poland & Finland last year.
Frenchman Bryan Bouffier will also join M-Sport for Monte Carlo and Tour De Corse.
No change from last year. Thierry Neuville and Andreas Mikkelsen will compete on all rounds of the championship, with Dani Sordo & Hayden Paddon sharing the 3rd i20 Hyundai car doing 7 rounds each. Sordo starting off in Monte Carlo.
Toyota Gazoo Racing
Back again with their Yaris WRC car, with some small changes to the front aero. Ott Tanak will join the team for the first time along with Jari-Matti Latvala and Esapekka Lappi.
Citroen Abu Dhabi
Back with their C3, with some promising improvements. Kris Meeke will do all rounds of the WRC with team-mate Craig Breen doing 10 rounds, making way for WRC legend, 9 times WRC Champion Sebastien Loeb on 3 rounds.
A surprise announcement was made, that Norwegian Mads Ostberg will also be joining Citroen for Rally Sweden. With the hope of doing further rounds later in the season.
The 2018 season is expected to be even closer than the remarkable season last year, as we enter the 2nd year of this new era of WRC with faster ‘Group B’ style cars that have captured the world’s attention. Every team has a winning driver which makes it the most open championship for years. Follow the action and photos here on InsideRally.com starting with the season opening Monte Carlo Rally.