“Who will be un­veiled at the Au­tosport Show?”

Motor Sport News - - Rally News -

Idon’t of­ten tell you what to do, but I’m go­ing to do that to­day. Go and buy a ticket for Au­tosport In­ter­na­tional and make sure it’s for Satur­day Jan­uary 12 (other days are avail­able and will, of course, be epic – but that day will be dou­ble-time epic, if not bet­ter).

Don’t waste time. Don’t de­lay. In fact, put MN down (I don’t say that very of­ten, ei­ther) and go and do it now.

Done it? Good. Now you can re­lax, safe in the knowl­edge that you’re go­ing to be among the first peo­ple in the world to see the new liv­ery for M-sport, Hyundai, Toy­ota and Citroen’s 2019 World Rally Cars to­gether and in the flesh be­fore any­body else in the whole wide world. And, on top of that, you’ll be the first to hear Se­bastien Ogier talk­ing about why he went back to Citroen and what he ex­pects from his sec­ond stint as part of the Parisian work­force.

Next year’s World Rally Cham­pi­onship launch at Au­tosport In­ter­na­tional is go­ing to be some­thing spe­cial. This year’s was great, but there was frus­tra­tion from ev­ery­body in­volved that so many of you missed out on it. Not next time.

So who will be an­nounced where, and what’s go­ing on with Hyundai? Last I heard, Dani Sordo’s deal was done and he was on the verge of be­ing an­nounced for seven ral­lies next sea­son, with Hay­den Pad­don bound to drive the i20 Coupe WRC on the other events.

Then it went all quiet. Hay­den had noth­ing to say. And no news. As of ear­lier this week, there was no def­i­nite plan for an an­nounce­ment from the Ger­man-based squad. I’ll keep dig­ging and come back to you on that one.

In the red cor­ner, there’s more and more talk that Se­bastien Loeb’s Span­ish win will be enough to keep Citroen run­ning three cars next year – and pos­si­bly even a fourth if Sheikh Khalid Al Qas­simi brings Abu Dhabi back to the ta­ble again. If that hap­pens, Loeb is reck­oned near cer­tain to be in the C3 WRC for five or six rounds, with Craig Breen tak­ing the con­trols for the rest of the ral­lies.

Such a move would surely se­cure El­fyn Evans at M-sport along­side Teemu Suni­nen for an­other sea­son. And that would be that. Fi­nally, the driver (and co-driver, we shouldn’t for­get their part in all this) line-up would be done and sorted for 2019.

Do any of us re­ally be­lieve that’s the end of it? Not a chance. Just like this thrilling sea­son of world cham­pi­onship ral­ly­ing we’re en­joy­ing, there’s plenty more mileage in the who goes where story yet.

Just be­fore I go, huge con­grat­u­la­tions to Osian Pryce for his sec­ond place at Satur­day’s Rally Ci­u­dad de Granada in Spain. The Welsh­man has suc­ceeded in reawak­en­ing the world to R4 ral­ly­ing. There’s half a chance the for­mer BRC fron­trun­ner could do a bit more of that in the fu­ture, but for now it’ll be fas­ci­nat­ing to see if this ap­par­ently al­ready for­got­ten for­mula can ever take off.

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