“Who will be unveiled at the Autosport Show?”
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.