Rallye Monte-Carlo marks the start of the WRC2 Championship for four-wheel drive cars and is the first opportunity to see the class of 2015 in action.
WRC2 is the final stepping stone to the headline WRC category, and the season’s opening round has attracted 11 drivers, each eager to prove themselves on the winter asphalt classic.
French drivers are likely to feature strongly this week, with rising stars Stéphane Lefebvre and Eric Camilli both tipped as front-runners.
Lefebvre dominated last year’s Junior WRC and took the title in his first season in world rallying - earning a prize drive in this year’s WRC2 in a Citroën Racing DS 3 R5. A protege of Sebastien Loeb, the ambitious 22-year-old is being groomed for greatness by Citroen, who will also offer him World Rally Car drives during the season.
Camilli too shows plenty of promise thanks to a solid background in the competitive French tarmac championship and a five-round season in 2013 backed by the talent spotters at the French Federation. Last year he impressed on the WRC rounds in Germany and France at the wheel of a Citroen DS 3 R3T. This year he will progress to the R5 version.
Quentin Giordano is another new Citroen DS 3 R5 runner, having moved up from the Junior Championship in 2014 where he finished on the podium four times. Julien Maurin is also expected to do well at the wheel of a Fiesta R5.
Monte also marks the return to the World Championship of Craig Breen - a former Junior WRC and Super 2000 WRC champion. The 24-year-old Irishman [main picture] will drive a works-supported Peugeot 208 T16 run by the Saintéloc Junior Team. Breen heads to Monte as a previous winner, having won the Super 2000 class in 2012.
Other notable entrants include Mitsubishi Lancer EVO X driver Marco Vallario, who will get his Production Cup campaign underway, and WRC 2 stalwart Armin Kremer who returns in a Super 2000 spec Skoda Fabia.
Download the full entry list here.