It’s the season of predictions, of trying to get a read on the situation before the championship starts, and two Car and Driver editors try to get a read on things ahead of the start of the 2024 WRC.
Elfyn Evans will be crowned champion
Kalle Rovanpera’s decision to part-time in 2024 leaves the door wide open for a different driver to take the title after two years of the Finn’s dominance.
Given the speed of the GR Yaris Rally1, but also the experience of Elfyn Evans in the event, the Welshman should be considered the favorite for the championship. It may not be consistently the fastest on the special stages, but it has the momentum and pace to move quickly enough to take advantage of mistakes and mistakes by the competition (mainly Hyundai), and dominate all the way to the finish. As long as he doesn’t make his -usual- mistakes.
Hyundai’s future will be uncertain without a title
Winning a world championship is a supreme achievement in any condition, but for Hyundai it is much more.
The Koreans have invested with a huge budget (by WRC standards) but they are in the shadow of Toyota, to the extent that the managers of the “mother” company resent it.
The report states that, if neither the drivers’ nor the manufacturers’ championships are won this year, Hyundai may decide to end its presence in the event early, leaving before 2025.
Kalle Rovanpera will win (almost) any match he chooses
He will miss Monte Carlo, but will race in Sweden – and is very likely to win.
Kalle Rovanpera looks unstoppable, being the most in-form driver with the best car. Yes, his absence from every race may rob him of momentum and pace, but he won’t actually be sitting idle – he’s already thinking about running an endurance race, while also continuing to test with the Yaris.
So I think he’ll be the favorite in every race he chooses to do this year, and he’ll win (almost) all of them.
Hyundai will win the constructors’ championship
Given its extended lineup for 2024, with Thierry Neuville-Martijn Wydaeghe and Ott Tanak-Martin Jarveoja doing a full schedule and three crews (!) sharing the third i20 N Rally1 bucket, I reckon Hyundai will be able to stand against the 2023 champion, Toyota, in a worthy manner.
The team’s vast WRC experience, combined with the ability to draw on the skills of each of the three drivers in the third car (Sordo on dirt, Mikkelsen on tarmac and Lappi on snow and in the faster dirt rallies), are the two “keys” that will give Hyundai the chance to fight for the title.
Ott Tanak or Thierry Neuville;
Cyril Abiteboul said a few weeks ago that there is going to be absolute parity between the two Hyundai prime-time drivers. What remains to be seen is whether or not this will be the case.
Thierry Neuville begins his 11th season with the team, and, with Kalle Rovanpera on a part-time schedule in 2024 with TGR, it is highly likely that this will be the year the Belgian wins his first championship. The same is true of course for Ott Tanak, who does already have a title in his quiver, but not with Hyundai.
Gregoire Munster will make the surprise
Gregoire Munster’s participation in Rally Chile and Rally Central Europe last year in the “big” category was decisive in securing his place in the M-Sport lineup for 2024.
The Luxembourg driver managed to complete the challenge, finishing 13th and 7th overall in the two races respectively, making no serious mistakes and setting a decent pace.
I believe that the fact that he will compete in the Rally1 category in all rallies in 2024 will play an important role in his development as a driver, and by extension in bringing more results during the season.
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Kalle Rovanpera wants to do a 24-hour endurance race