Which hard chargers impressed you with their commitment, speed and determination to earn the accolade of the WRC's Most Improved Driver in 2021?
Take a look at our impressive list of nominees below. Pick the driver who stood out for you across the season then scroll to the bottom to vote before 20:00 CET on Wednesday, 08 December. The winner will be announced on wrc.com on 10 December.
CHAMPIONSHIP: Junior WRC
Bouncing back from a horror crash in his previous Junior WRC start (Rally Sweden 2020), Jon Armstrong made the perfect return with victory at the Croatia Rally, the first stop on the 2021 calendar. As the season progressed, the young Brit once more showed his strength on Tarmac, with a second victory at Renties Ypres Rally Belgium, while there was also a second place in Estonia. He finished the season as runner-up in the championship.
Young Bolivian Marco Bulacia continued to make major strides forward in 2021 after stepping up to WRC2 in a Skoda Fabia with Toksport. His speed improved markedly throughout the season as he recorded three third-place finishes and a season-best second at EKO Acropolis Rally Greece. He ended the WRC2 season in fourth, tied on points with third-placed Jari Huttunen.
CHAMPIONSHIP: WRC2 / WRC
Adrien Fourmaux developed rapidly in 2021, showing signs to suggest he has a long future at the top of the sport. Starting the season sharing an M-Sport Ford seat with Teemu Suninen, the young Frenchman's first opportunity in a Fiesta WRC came in Croatia. He quickly became a talking point of the rally, delivering a mature drive to finish fifth. His third start at the top level in Kenya saw Fourmaux claim his maiden stage win. By year's end, Fourmaux had made the second M-Sport WRC seat his own.
Gus Greensmith was a driver clearly down on confidence when the season got under way in January, but a change of co-driver after the second round brought a transformation to the Briton's fortunes. With the experienced Chris Patterson climbing into the passenger seat, consistency became key for Greensmith as the pair recorded three top-five finishes. The small errors that previously plagued the man from the north of England became rarer as the season progressed.
A maiden stage win on the final test of 2020 appeared to be the confidence boost Takamoto Katsuta required. The Toyota Gazoo Racing challenge programme driver was consistently on the pace throughout the first half of 2021 with back-to-back fourth place finishes before a head-turning second in Kenya. His peformances suffered during the second half due to a series of co-driver changes, but it should not overshadow a 2021 that brought major improvement.
CHAMPIONSHIP: Junior WRC
One thing that Sami Pajari has never lacked is speed. But what about consistency to go with it? This is exactly what the Finn displayed in 2021, winning two rallies and finishing runner-up in a further two to become the youngest-ever Junior WRC champion. This also made him the first-ever Finnish driver to win the championship, joining the elite company of previous champions Sébastien Ogier, Elfyn Evans and Sébastien Loeb.
Perhaps unfairly pegged in the past as a Tarmac specialist, Frenchman Yohan Rossel proved himself as a driver capable of competing on all surfaces, claiming victories on both Tarmac (Monte-Carlo and Ypres) and gravel (Sardinia). Rossel's season appeared to be losing momentum when disqualified from EKO Acropolis Rally Greece, followed by his co-driver leaving him just days later. But a perfectly-executed run at FORUM8 ACI Rally Monza saw him beat Kajetan Kajetanowicz to the WRC3 title on the final stage of the season.
Being seen as a third driver for Toyota Gazoo Racing was not an option for Kalle Rovanperä who entered the third round of the season as the surprise championship leader, at just 20 years old. The Finn slammed back down to earth when he crashed in Croatia's opening test, leaving him with plenty of time for soul searching. He bounced back admirably with third in his next outting in Sardinia. But the best was yet to come. In Estonia he became the youngest WRC event winner before claiming the same result two rallies later in Greece. It seems not to be question of 'if' but rather of 'when' Rovanperä becomes world champion.
CHAMPIONSHIP: WRC2 / WRC
Stepping up to WRC in 2021, Oliver Solberg confirmed he will be a mainstay at the elite level for the forseeable future. Whilst still showing signs of the inexperience that comes with his age, the now 20-year-old came under fire for a run of DNFs in the middle of the season. But, showing his willingness to adapt and learn from his mistakes, the young Swede bounced back to fully embrace two late-season opportunities he was handed in a World Rally Car, driving maturely to finish seventh and fifth at Rally RACC - Rally de España and FORUM8 ACI Rally Monza respectively.
Terms and Conditions
- All votes must be received by 20:00 CET on Wednesday, 08 December.
- The winner will be announced on wrc.com on Friday, 10 December.
- Voting times may be subject to change.
- By voting in this competition, you are assisting in determing who will be announced as the Most Improved Driver in the WRC in 2021.
- Voters are not entitled to any awards.
- WRC reserves the right to cancel or suspend voting at any time.
- The eligibility of any vote is at the sole discretion of WRC.
- WRC reserves the right to disqualify votes if it has reasonable grounds to suspect that fraudulent voting has occurred or if it considers there has been any attempt to rig the voting.
- WRC, its sub-contractors, subsidiaries and/or agencies cannot accept any responsibility whatsoever for any technical failure or malfunction or any other problem with the internet connectivity or line, system, server, provider or otherwise which may result in any vote being lost or not properly registered or recorded.
- WRC’s decision in relation to all matters affecting the voting is final.
- In the event of a dispute or tie or if for any other reason WRC deems it necessary or appropriate, WRC reserves the right to make the final determination as to which of the nominees will be declared the winner of the award.
- The winner of the award will be a driver who competed in the WRC, WRC2, WRC3 or Junior WRC in the 2021 calendar year.
- WRC reserves the right to amend these Terms and Conditions without prior notice. Any changes will be posted on wrc.com and such posting shall be adequate notice to all participants.
- These Terms and Conditions shall be governed by German Law.
- By voting, all participants will be deemed to have accepted and be bound by these terms and conditions.