In Pictures: Mid-season special
Winding roads, snow-packed forests, narrow gravel tests and twisty cliff-edge stages have challenged the WRC field in the first half of the season and the championship's crack band of photographers were on hand to capture all the action.
Wrc.com photographers Jaanus Ree and the team at At-World have travelled across the Atlantic twice and zig-zagged their way between European rallies to supply an eye-catching series of pictures.
And before the season resumes next month at Neste Rally Finland (26 – 29 July), we’ve taken the chance for a look back at some of our favourites of the season so far.
Reigning champion Sébastien Ogier started his title defence in style in Monte-Carlo. Winning three of the opening four stages, he maintained his lead for the remaining two days to take victory by almost one minute.
Taking on a part-time campaign for Hyundai this year, Hayden Paddon started his season at a snow-packed Rally Sweden. The New Zealander kept himself out of trouble and claimed two stage wins on his way to fifth overall.
Rejoining the WRC at Rally Guanajuato Mexico, Sébastien Loeb looked on course for a remarkable result after taking the lead in his Citroën C3 on the second day. However, a puncture on SS14 cost him two-minutes and denied fans the prospect of a remarkable victory.
The Toyotas struggled with set-up issues on the first morning at the Corsica linea – Tour de Corse. But after the team got the Yaris properly sorted, Esapekka Lappi showed what he could do – collecting maximum bonus points for fastest time on the Live TV Power Stage.
After a stunning second place in Sweden, Craig Breen returned to Citroën at YPF Rally Argentina having been moved aside for Loeb in Mexico and Corsica. His early pace suggested he was going to pick up where he left off - but it wasn’t to be. Running wide after a jump, Breen’s car clipped a ditch and rolled.
Skoda Motorsport drivers dominate the top of the WRC 2 championship, with 2017 champion Pontus Tidemand the class of the field so far. His third win of the season at Vodafone Rally de Portugal put him 18-points ahead of team-mate Jan Kopecký.
Trailing rally leader Ogier before the final day of Rally Italia Sardegna, Thierry Neuville pulled off a remarkable pursuit of the M-Sport Ford driver. Faster than the Frenchman on every stage on Sunday, Neuville snatched the lead on the final Live TV Power Stage to win by 0.7sec.
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