Tue 03 Jan 2023

Launching into 2023

The new year is here. And the new season won’t be far behind it.

With an awesome 2022 season-closing FORUM8 Rally Japan still fresh in the memory, it’s with the same excitement that the FIA World Rally Championship leaps into 2023.

And the leaping starts the week after next with Rallye Monte-Carlo (19 - 22 January) – as ever the perfect place to commence a campaign, and this will be the 51st.

There’s something about week one for WRC fans. Testing in the French Alps resumes after the holidays and that means different faces in different places. Ott Tänak will be back in M-Sport Ford blue, while Craig Breen goes in the opposite direction and digs out his old Hyundai threads (which will have been updated, don’t worry!). 

Another former M-Sporter heading for Alzenau is Esapekka Lappi. The Finn’s full-time return to the championship is another fascinating season-long storyline. Lappi has long been lauded as a potential title challenger. This is his moment. 

Busy as we are looking forward, it’s impossible not to peer back into the second half of last year to remember Hyundai’s i20 N Rally1 was the dominant force from Estonia onwards. 

Along with team long-termer Thierry Neuville, Lappi’s in the best possible position to capitalise on the potential continuity of that form and speed.

Another WRC favourite looking to build on 2022 form will be Pierre-Louis Loubet. Safe in the knowledge that he shares the M-Sport team with Tänak, the Corsican’s first full season will be fascinating to watch following the speed he showed last season.

Toyota? It’s a two, no three-parter. How will Takamoto Katsuta cope with the added pressure of working with the full manufacturer team? Can Elfyn Evans find a sweet spot with the GR Yaris Rally1? And finally, was Kalle Rovanperä’s world title a flash in the Finnish pan or a changing of the guard which denotes Finland’s return to the head of rallying’s top table?

So many questions… and the answers start to flow in a matter of days. Can’t wait.

Starts: Thursday, July 18, 2024 at 4:31:00 AM
Starts: Friday, July 26, 2024 at 8:30:00 AM
Starts: Saturday, July 27, 2024 at 9:30:00 AM