WRC: CAR LIVERIES, DRIVERS AND MORE REVEALED AT WRC LAUNCH
A day full of announcements at the WRC Launch in Birmingham today. With all the teams revealing their new cars for the 2018 World Rally Championship season. Here is a summary of all the announcements made today and all the info you need to know before the 2018 WRC season kicks off in Monte Carlo.
Ford has officially announced an extended commitment to the WRC with Ford Performance Support for the M-Sport Ford World Rally Team in 2018. An extended supply of technical and financial support is guaranteed with this agreement.
M-Sport drivers Ogier and Evans will be competing with the same ‘Red Bull livery’ this year. Unlike last year, when all three cars of M-Sport had different livery’s.
News on M-Sport Ford’s third driver(s) came earlier this week when the British team announced Bryan Bouffier to drive the 3rd Ford Fiesta WRC at Rallye Monte Carlo and Tour de Corse. Today was announced that Teemu Suninen will be driving M-Sport’s 3rd car at (at least) 8 events, starting from Rally Sweden. Suninen’s first rally of the season will be Rallye Monte Carlo, where the young Finn drives with a Red Bull liveried Ford Fiesta R5. After Monte-Carlo the 23-year-old will be driving a R5-Fiesta on Rally Germany. It’s yet to be confirmed which other (7) rallies Suninen will drive (in a Ford Fiesta WRC) after Rally Sweden.
Mads Østberg will be back at a factory team as Citroën’s 3rd driver at Rally Sweden this year. The Norwegian, who drove for Citroën in 2014 and 2015, confirmed that his Rally Sweden entry it is a one-off appearance. The 30-year-old hopes to get more appearances after Rally Sweden: ‘’I feel really motivated and I hope that together we can deliver good results and have a few more appearances during the year.’’No more further surprises at Citroën. With Kris Meeke driving at every event in 2018. Craig Breen sharing drives with 9-time World Rally Champion Sébastien Loeb. Who will be competing in Mexico, Corsica and Spain. Khalid Al-Qassimi will make outings on selected events.
No suprises at Hyundai. The Alzenau based team already confirmed their drivers for the 2018 season. Thierry Neuville and Andreas Mikkelsen will both do every rally this year. With Dani Sordo and Hayden Paddon sharing drives. Hyundai confirmed today that Sordo will drive the 3rd car in: Monte Carlo, Mexico, France, Argentina, Germany and Spain. And Paddon will drive the 3rd Hyundai in: Sweden, Italy, Finland, Turkey, GB and Australia. Rally Portugal will be a special event, with Hyundai entering 4 cars.The car has a slightly different livery compared to last year, new aerodynamics on the front and a new rear wing. 2017 runner-up, Thierry Neuville, has a clear goal for 2018: ‘’Taking four wins in 2017, and being competitive in many other events, gives us real motivation to go one (place) better. As a team, we keep getting stronger with each season. I feel it’s our time to shine.’’
Toyota GAZOO Racing:
No surprises at Toyota either. With their new aerodynamic package for the front of the car (new front bumper and fenders) and updates for the cooling system the team hopes to be fighting for wins and podiums consistently. Front man Jari-Matti Latvala aims to be in the title fight all year long: ‘’If we can fight for the podium in every race and stay consistent, then I believe we have a chance to fight for the Championship title. The consistency is the name of the game.’’New recruit, Ott Tänak, who finished third in the Championship last year with M-Sport, last year’s Rally Finland winner Esapekka Lappi and Jari-Matti Latvala will all be competing in every event this year. The first stage of 2018 season starts in two weeks at Rallye Monte Carlo!