We’re less than day away from the first special stage of the 2017 World Rally Championship season. Before the engines start to roar, let’s round up the rumors and news from these last days.
Toyota overly ambitious going to Monte Carlo?
Toyota’s team boss Tommi Mäkinen has set a clear target for his team in Monte Carlo. “I’m happy, if both cars finish – and inside a minute from the winner.” Mäkinen stated to WRC.com. This is a highly ambitious target, especially as Toyota is a newcomer and the gaps in Monte Carlo tend to stretch to multiple minutes. No doubt this would be an astonishingly good result for the Japanese brand.
For a while Mäkinen’s target was in jeopardy according to some rumors on Wednesday. It was reported from multiple media outlets that Toyota’s Yaris WRC hadn’t passed the last inspection prior to the Rally. These rumors were quickly dispatched by Toyota so we might never know how threatening the situation got.
Neville targets more victories after a strong 2016 season
Hyundai’s Belgian driver Thierry Neuville finished second in the Drivers’ Championship last season with a win and six other podium finishes. This year he has come to win the entire championship and increase his rally victories from his current amount, which is two. The Belgian sits neatly on place for success this season with an equal playing field, years of experience and a familiar team. His virtues might however become his downfall, as they apply to both of his teammates. Young and hungry Hayden Paddon and the series’ veteran Dani Sordo will no doubt do their upmost to reap success for themselves.
Sébastien Ogier and M-Sport top the Monte Carlo Shakedown.
Wednesday evening hosted the first event of the 2017 season with two shakedown stages. It was, perhaps as expected, the reigning Champion Sébastien Ogier who came out on top. Ogier’s new team, the British M-Sport had surely a great time on Wednesday, as Ott Tänak brought their second car home on third place just behind Toyota’s Jari-Matti Latvala. M-Sport seems to be in the best shape of the four teams this weekend, but Monte Carlo is as treacherous as it is epic.
This season will certainly be the tightest in ages and as there is no clear favorite, the fans will have a blast. This weekend it might be M-Sport as Wednesday’s shakedowns would show, but in the next one – Rally Sweden – it could be a complete turnaround in the standings.