The 2018 world championship gets underway later this month at the prestigious Rallye Monte-Carlo (25 – 28 January) – and this year’s season opener boasts a suitably star-studded entry.
The Monte marks the first competitive appearance for the WRC class of 2018, and the championship debut for a number of exciting new driver and car combinations.
Defending champion Sébastien Ogier tops the entries in the number one Ford Fiesta, and he will be joined in the M-Sport Ford team squad by new team-mate Elfyn Evans and Monte specialist Bryan Bouffier.
Hyundai will also field three cars, with i20s for Andreas Mikkelsen, Thierry Neuville and Dani Sordo. The team recently confirmed that Sordo and Hayden Paddon will each get seven WRC outings this year by sharing the third car and as part of a four-car line-up in Portugal.
Long time M-Sport member Ott Tänak will make his much anticipated debut for the Toyota Gazoo Racing squad, driving a Yaris along with Jari-Matti Latvala and Esapekka Lappi.
The manufacturer team entries are completed by two Citroën Abu Dhabi team C3s, to be driven by Kris Meeke and Craig Breen.
There are six entries in WRC 2, headed by former M-Sport WRC team member Eric Camilli in a Ford Fiesta R5. Teemu Suninen, recently announced as an M-Sport driver in 2018, and former Hyundai development ace Kevin Abbring will also drive Ford Fiestas.
Jan Kopecky returns with Skoda, and there are entries too for Guillaume De Mevius (Peugeot 208) and Eddie Sciessere (Citroën DS 3).
Other WRC 2 class favourites, including Ole Christian Veiby, Olivier Burri, Quentin Giordano and Finnish youngster Kalle Rovanperä will tackle the rally but have not nominated it as a championship-counting round.
Four drivers are registered in WRC 3 and there are three Abarth 124 cars in the FIA’s RGT-class for Allesandro Fioro, Nicolas Ciamin and Andrea Nucita.
The rally, which this year commemorates its 86th running, gets underway from Place du Casino in Monte-Carlo on Thursday 25 January.