1. The Cars
If you haven’t watched WRC in a while (we don’t blame you, it’s pretty hard to find nowadays) head to the Tubes of You and check out some of the cars and action from last year. For 2020, the cars are still following the rallying rulebook from 2017 – the year when they slackened off the regs to offer teams greater aero freedom, lighter cars and bigger wings. The aim was to try and inject some excitement back into the stale series and it’s worked. Like all good rally cars, they’re still your basic, recognisable shopping trolley hatchback, just beefed up to insanity with crazy bodywork, oodles of power and a fantastic soundtrack that still makes them the pinnacle of fast on any surface, at any time. They’re also spawning a set of cool homologation rally-rep road cars like the GR Yaris, and you can’t be po-faced about that.
2. The Drivers
While the cars haven’t changed massively, the people driving them sure have. There’s been a big ol’ game of musical chairs in the off-season that’s shaken things up wonderfully. Reigning champ Estonian Ott Tänak has shuffled over to Hyundai, Sébastien Ogier’s jumped ship to Toyota and Brit Elfyn Evans joined him while Esapekka Lappi is now in a fresh set of M-Sport overalls. Both defending champion Tänak and Thierry Neuville have it in their locker to win a title for Hyundai, so prepare for some tough competition there.
3. The calendar
There was meant to be 14 rounds for the forty-eighth World Rally Championship, but because of a late withdrawal from Chile, we’re down to 13. But don’t worry as the 2020 calendar is one of the most diverse and exciting in decades. Some of the old old favourites are back with Africa, the Far East and the South Pacific all represented. The Safari Rally, Rally Japan and Rally New Zealand all return to be rallied again. Whoop-de-whoop! New Zealand’s North Island will play host to wild, fast-flowing stages, while the Safari rally will bring the epicness (and dust) of Africa back to the fans after an 18-year hiatus before Japan’s Aichi-based asphalt rally will act as the grand finale of the championship. We can’t wait.
4. The ridiculous commitment and crashes
The line between success and cataclysmic failure in the WRC is gossamer thin. And kilometre after kilometre, stage after stage, the drivers carefully walk this skinny tightrope. When it goes right it provides incredible footage like what you see above of Ogier in Maximum Attack mode. But as Tanak found out earlier today on the first day of this year’s Monte Carlo rally having a near 115mph shunt that catapulted his Hyundai off the road, into a tree, then off a cliff, proves just how strong the cars are and how much effort the drivers are putting into each and every second.
5. It's the end of an era
The big punctation to this season is that Sébastien Ogier has confirmed that this is his last season. While Sébastien Loeb’s plans beyond 2020 remain uncertain. So this year could be the farewell tour for two of France’s hottest rallying hot shoes and certified legends. The duo has absolutely dominated this century in the WRC, collectively winning 15 consecutive titles between 2004 and 2018, providing a period of, at times, unrivalled French domination. And with teams remaining undecided about 2022’s hybrid regulations, this decade of rallying is set to be very different from the last.