Yurii Protasov’s form in the 2013 WRC2 championship means he is likely to be the man to beat when the 2014 series kicks off on Rallye Monte-Carlo.
The Ukranian finished third in last year’s series and will re-acquaint himself with his Ford Fiesta R5 as he and co-driver Pavlo Cherepin head the seven-car WRC2 entry on this week’s season opener.
Also hoping to challenge for victory will be experienced campaigner Armin Kremer.
Kremer, like Protasov, drove a Subaru Impreza on the 2013 Monte, but like his rival he has also switched to a Ford Fiesta R5 for this year’s event.
Speaking about his new car, Kremer said: “I won the German Cup in this car and it is nice and easy to drive. Nobody can tell what is going to happen in the next few days. We hope our ice crews can make good notes for us then we can drive.”
Also returning to the series is Ireland’s Robert Barrable and his co-driver Stuart Loudon. The duo will once again be competing in their Tunnocks World Rally Team Ford Fiesta R5.
However, the 26-year-old admitted to feeling nervous ahead of Thursday’s start. He said: “We didn’t do an extensive pre-event test because we had the gearbox on our car rebuilt during the winter. That’s probably why I’m a little apprehensive. I just want to get to the end.”
The remaining entries in the WRC2 field will be filled by Massimiliano Rendina/Mario Pizzuti in a Mitsubishi Evo, Jourdain Serderidis/ Morgane Rose in a Ford Fiesta R5, Julien Maurin/Nicolas Klinger in a Ford Fiesta R5 and Lorenzo Bertelli/Mitia Dotta in a Ford Fiesta R5.
Meanwhile, in the WRC3 championship, only one crew will be competing in Monte Carlo. Frenchman Quentin Gilbert and his co-driver Renaud Jamoul will be hoping they can keep their Citroen DS3 on the road and claim top points.