The 2024 World Rally Championship season starts in one week, with absences, returns, changes and our national event, Rally Acropolis.
Rovanpera’s absence changes the balance
It is not unusual for last season’s champion to change his plans, move on to another program or even retire from active action.
However, Kalle Rovanpera is only 23 years old, in his prime (both biologically and competitively), so this decision is not only a surprise given the circumstances, but also a huge change in the dynamics of the top flight.
Elfyn Evans automatically becomes the first name at Toyota – whether he is a worthy title contender will be seen down the road.
At Hyundai, there’s the Neuville-Tanak duo, and with the Koreans redefining how they invest and how much they believe in their WRC program 100% will be given to both championships – car permitting.
Tanak’s return to Hyundai
Speaking of Hyundai, Ott Tanak’s return to familiar territory only a year after he left to look for something better (in terms of atmosphere and performance) at M-Sport (with a colossal failure that is certainly not to his credit) is also the main which is why the Korean team enters as favorites for the drivers’ championship.
— Hyundai Motorsport (@HMSGOfficial) January 10, 2024
Of course, this move is not made in a vacuum: Tanak will have to coexist with Neuville again, a difficult fact for two drivers who see themselves as No. 1, but also hope that the new management of president and team principal Cyril Abiteboul and FX Demaison’s technical leadership is indeed capable of giving him – towards the end of his career – another title.
The new rating system
The FIA is trying to solve one of the most significant (short-term) problems with the modern WRC: the lack of interest when the winner is almost certain.
When a driver closes Saturday with a margin of safety at the top of the standings, he chooses to run conservatively on Sunday, with the only exception possibly being the Powerstage, where we usually see everyone pushing for the extra points.
With the new points system, everyone, even those who are sure of their place in the standings, will be forced to push to secure even more, as it is very likely that the first finisher will not even be the driver with the most points leaving from the rally.
In addition, there is also the question of those who do a partial program (and they are first-class names this year), as well as those who leave on Saturday and return to the special routes on Sunday.
More about this you can read here.
Toyota in WRC2
The increasingly interesting category of Rally2, within the framework of the WRC2 championship, is getting a new protagonist. Toyota will line up at the start of Monte Carlo with the GR Yaris Rally2, a racer that has been in development and extensive testing for over a year, and is already considered one of the favourites.
Skoda, Citroen and Ford will have something to say about this new addition, and the Japanese car’s five-crew debut will be a good first crash test of its speed and durability.
The re-established ECO Rally Acropolis
The EKO Rally Acropolis remains on the WRC calendar and maintains its position with the value and goodwill it generates for the institution.
It is again becoming one of the highlights of the year, eagerly awaited not only by Greek viewers, but also by the world audience.
And we always await the location for the super special course of the fourth consecutive edition of the race in its modern era.
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