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2014 Rallye Monte Carlo
11th January 2014, 1:33 at 1:33 am #134100
Finally, the WRC season is upon us. In less than a week, all the crews will head to Valence for the start of the 2014 season, and with one of the busiest off seasons of any racing series, this is one to be excited for. The Monte Carlo Rally usually offers enough excitement as is, but with all but Volkswagen changing their driver line up, this is may be one of the best rallies in recent years. This is also the first year in over a decade of the events running that Nine-time world champion Sebastien Loeb will not be contesting the Monegasque event. The Frenchman made only four starts last year, including Monte Carlo, which he won.
Here are the new team lineups.
With an incredible first season that resulted in their drivers winning 10 of the 13 rounds, and finishing 1st and 3rd in the championship, Volkswagen Motorsports will want to follow up their debut with another championship. While they are the only team to keep all of their drivers as they were last season, an engine overhaul and various suspension improvements are aimed to capitalize on the strong base they debuted last year. They are still the favorites for the championship, with Frenchman Sebastien Ogier leading the effort, and Finn Jari-Matti Latvala expected to provide another good points haul. Volkswagen Motorsports II is back as well, with Norwegian driver Andreas Mikkelsen aiming at gaining more WRC experience.
Car 1: Sebastien Ogier, Julien Ingrassia
Car 2: Jari-Matti Latvala, Miikka Anttila
Volkswagen Motorsports II:
Car 9: Andreas Mikkelsen, Mikko Markkula
Citroen Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team
The loss of Loeb from the team last year hurt the team more then they had expected. Mikko Hirvonen’s second year with the ex-champion team came to a disappointing conclusion at the Wales Rally Great Britain, the Finn rolling the car, and finishing 4th in the championship. His teammate Dani Sordo didn’t fair much better, finishing 5th in the standings. 2014 sees Ford and Citroen swap leading drivers, with Mikko going back to M-Sport, and Mads Østberg joining Citroen. Dani Sordo has also left the team, and is headed to Hyundai, being replaced by Kris Meeke, who started several rallies with Citroen last season, but crashed out of all of them.
Car 3: Kris Meeke, Paul Nagle
Car 4: Mads Østberg, Jonas Andersson
M-Sport World Rally Team
Hoping to sees some improvements after a mixed season last year, M-Sport has signed on an all new team. Russian Evgeny Novikov has announced that he will not contest this years WRC, but is hoping to make a few occasional starts in preparation for a new deal next season. Mads Østberg has left for Citroen, and M-Sport’s star driver Thierry Neuville, who finished second in the standings last year, has left the team to join Hyundai. Returning after two years at Citroen is Mikko Hirvonen, who also hopes a change will see him up front again. Alongside him are the only two rookies for the season, Welsh driver Elfyn Evans, and Polish Ex-Formula One driver Robert Kubica. Evans ran several WRC2 events last year, finished on the podium 3 times, including a win in the last round at home. Kubica’s debut WRC2 season last year saw him win the championship, winning 5 of the 7 round he nominated for points. Entering as a privateer for the fourth year in a row is Czech driver Martin Prokop. He is the only driver to contest the championship on Pirelli tires.
Car 5: Mikko Hirvonen, Jarmo Lehtinen
Car 6: Elfyn Evans, Daniel Barritt
RK M-Sport World Rally Team
Car 11: Robert Kubica, Maciek Szczepaniak
Jipocar Czech National Team
Car 21: Martin Prokop, Michal Ernst
Hyundai Shell World Rally Team
The biggest unknown for next year is Hyundai’s new factory effort. The brand new i20 will contest all rounds of the championship, however the team have been quick to play down any chances of emulating VW’s debut season last year. Still, with rising star Thierry Neuville and a consistent pair of hands in Dani Sordo, this team may prove to be the dark horse in the race. Sordo is expected to share the second car throughout the season with Finn Juho Hanninen, and Australian driver Chris Atkinson. Its nice to see a manufacturer put in as much effort as Hyundai has with this team. Testing began nearly two years ago, and they have been making changes to the car ever since.
Car 7: Thierry Neuville, Nicolas Gilsoul
Car 8: Dani Sordo, Marc Marti
Additional Hyundai Entries
Car ?: Juho Hänninen, Tomi Tuominen
Car ?: Chris Atkinson, Stéphane Prévot
And to keep us entertained before the event, all teams have been busy testing their new cars in various conditions in preparation of the difficult race ahead. Below are videos of each team testing.
Hyundai: (expected Livery: http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-gd_fkXxCRHU/Uqeep3AQYbI/AAAAAAAANjk/dZbC4xvZj0Y/s1600/Hyundai%2Bi20%2BWRC%2B2014%2BFront%2BSide%2B2.jpg)
Volkswagen: (Livery same as last year)
Ford: (M-Sport Livery: https://pbs.twimg.com/media/BdpB0z6IIAAKj31.jpg:large)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zSJN4hV4CnM11th January 2014, 19:12 at 7:12 pm #24793811th January 2014, 19:39 at 7:39 pm #247939
I’m excited about WRC this year. I really hope the Hyundai team can be competitive out of the gate the way VW were last year, but they don’t need to really do a whole lot to be better than the last iteration of the Hyundai WRC team in the early 2000s.
And of course, I want to see what Kubica can do with a full slate and a year of experience. Podiums aren’t a bridge too far if you ask me.11th January 2014, 21:45 at 9:45 pm #247940
@polishboy808 Great work with the opening post!
I am really waiting for this fresh new season. So many things to be excited about like how well will Hyundai do, will Kubica be as great as he was in WRC2 and how many times will Latvala crash. Also, I really hope Hirvonen will have a better season after terrible 2013, I have always liked him. Can’t wait!13th January 2014, 23:50 at 11:50 pm #247941
The four manufacturers at the Casino:16th January 2014, 7:47 at 7:47 am #247942
Stage 1 is complete, and Robert Kubica holds a twenty-second lead over Sebastien Ogier.
Conditions are difficult, and are expected to change rapidly and repeatedly, especially as the cars cross over the high Cols.16th January 2014, 9:42 at 9:42 am #247943
Wow, quite a mad rally so far. Top 10 after 3rd stage:
1. BOUFFIER 45:44.2
2. MEEKE +13.6
3. SORDO +41.5
4. KUBICA +42.5
5. EVANS +46.7
6. OSTBERG +1:14.0
7. OGIER +1:19.4
8. MELICHAREK +1:55.2
9. HIRVONEN +2:32.4
10. MIKKELSEN +2:57.716th January 2014, 12:32 at 12:32 pm #247944
Weather reports for this afternoon’s stages suggest the drivers will be facing slippery, slushy conditions at lower altitudes, with low visibility all round and strong winds at high altitude, especially on the exposed side of the mountains, and snow deep enough for studs on the protected sides. As the conditions change, the snow is moving around, and the drivers will not know exactly where it is until they hit it. It’s not as tough as last year’s rally, but right now it’s all about survival. Neuville is already out, while everyone seems to be having scares; Ogier in particular glanced a wall and was lucky to escape with some light contact damage.16th January 2014, 14:35 at 2:35 pm #247945
So it’s both Neuville and Sordo out. Not the best possible comeback for Hyundai.16th January 2014, 14:44 at 2:44 pm #247946
At least those two have a good warranty on their cars.17th January 2014, 12:22 at 12:22 pm #247947
I’m impressed that Kubica already has more stage wins than Raikkonen ever managed.17th January 2014, 12:34 at 12:34 pm #247948
I’m impressed that Kubica is still on the road.17th January 2014, 12:50 at 12:50 pm #247949
He does seem to crash reasonably frequently, but he only actually retired a single WRC2 rally last year, didn’t he?17th January 2014, 12:54 at 12:54 pm #24795017th January 2014, 12:57 at 12:57 pm #247951
Such a shame though. He was the only man out there matching Ogier’s pace.
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