1: A new world champion will be crowned
With Sebastien Loeb set to contest a maximum of four WRC events in 2013, a new world champion will be crowned for the first time since 2003.
2: Ostberg’s big chance
Having shone as a privateer in 2011 and 2012, Mads Ostberg gets his big break with a 13-round schedule in a Qatar M-Sport World Rally Team Ford Fiesta.
3: Hope for Hanninen
There’s only a guarantee of two events (Monte-Carlo and Sweden) at the moment but Hanninen has what it takes to challenge for victory on both in a privateer Fiesta. You heard it here first.
4: The future is here
Esapekka Lappi emerged as one of rallying’s brightest prospects in 2012 with several standout performances. He gets a WRC 2 bid with Skoda Motorsport as his reward.
5: Hello Volkswagen
Volkswagen will mount its first World Rally Car campaign with a three-strong team of Polo Rs for Jari-Matti Latvala, Andreas Mikkelsen and Sebastien Ogier. The car is unproven but Volkswagen’s commitment is unquestionable.
6: M-Sport goes for youth
In addition to Mads Ostberg, M-Sport will also field young stars Thierry Neuville and Evgeny Novikov on all 13 rounds in 2013. Both have the ability to challenge for regular podiums under the watchful eye of Nasser Al-Attiyah, who will embark on a partial campaign in a fourth Qatar-backed Fiesta.
7: Australia is back
While Rally New Zealand is one of the best in the business, the return of Rally Australia (pictured) to the WRC schedule after a one-year absence will be a highlight with event organisers hard at work on some exciting changes.
8: Renewed impetus at Citroen
Citroen might no longer be able to count on Sebastien Loeb’s services on a full-time basis but in Mikko Hirvonen and Dani Sordo it will still be hard to beat. Khalid Al-Qassimi also joins the team for 2013, making a welcome return to the WRC along with principal sponsor Abu Dhabi.
9: New classes and categories
It’s all change in the WRC support categories for 2013 with WRC 2 replacing SWRC complete with a cup for Group N cars. The PWRC becomes WRC 3 but is now exclusively for two-wheel-drive machines. The WRC Academy is renamed the Junior WRC, while there are one-make contests for Citroen DS3 R3s, Mitsubishi Lancers and Subaru Imprezas.
10: Evans above!
After dominating the WRC Academy in 2012, Elfyn Evans will get the chance to show his ability in a four-wheel-drive Fiesta as part of an exciting prize drive with M-Sport. The young Briton is highly rated and is set to impress.