Ott Tanak starts the defence of his global rally identify in Monte Carlo this week promising a blank combat with arch rival Thierry Neuville, his new teammate at Hyundai.
4 days after clinching the 2019 crown, Tanak sprang a marvel by means of quitting Toyota to enroll in Neuville on the Korean automotive makers.
Neuville ran Tanak closest final yr and the bespectacled Belgian can be going all out to concentrate on making existence as uncomfortable as imaginable for his new teammate with the champion constructors.
“I am certain there can be a large combat (within the workforce), however so long as the combat remains within the phases, I do not see any issues,” Tanak informed wrc.com.
“It is a new yr and we commence with a clean sheet of paper. No person has any issues and we’re all going to combat for our personal championship and for the groups’ championship. It is so simple as that. I do not see any issues.”
Tanak used to be on no account the one headline driving force alternate for a 13-rally season that welcomes again 3 previous buddies in Japan, New Zealand and Kenya.
Six-time champion Sebastien Ogier left Citroen after only one yr of his contract to enroll in Toyota, triggering the French marque’s withdrawal from the championship, blaming the absence of a first class driving force.
With Elfyn Evans becoming a member of Ogier on the Eastern producer and Esapekka Lappi changing the Welsh driving force at M-Recreation Ford, the all-changed 2020 marketing campaign is difficult to name.
“It’s been one of the most busiest switch instances lately,” famous WRC’s managing director Oliver Ciesla.
“Those transfers deliver unpredictability and pleasure for the brand new season as drivers settle into their new groups and automobiles.”
Including to the replaced panorama is the go back of rallies in Kenya after an 18-year absence, Japan (after a decade) and New Zealand (seven years).
– ‘Safari Rally’ –
“It is the first time the WRC has incorporated six continents –- Europe, North The us, South The us, Asia, Africa and Australasia –- in its 48-year historical past,” stated Ciesla.
Japan’s new-look tarmac rally in Nagoya is the overall around of the season, with Kenya’s safari Rally in July and New Zealand in September.
Dropped to make manner for the trio had been France, Spain and Australia, with Chile additionally axed because of social unrest within the nation.
A need to increase the 13-round championship’s reaches past Europe had been in the back of the calendar adjustments, defined Ciesla.
“Japan’s comeback, mainstream Asia’s first look for 10 years, and the go back of Kenya’s Safari Rally, one among motorsport’s mythical contests, supply a presence on this planet’s biggest two continents by means of measurement for the primary time in additional than twenty years,” he stated.
A lot then has replaced however no longer the yr’s place to begin, the famed Monte Carlo rally in its 88th yr with Ogier going for a 7th successive luck on its difficult mixture of snow and tarmac.
Thursday evening’s two opening phases provide a impolite awakening for drivers rising from their iciness hibernation.
“It is a new automotive, at midnight, no person is aware of if it is rainy, dry, freezing, how a lot ice there’s,” stated Evans.
“The whole lot’s new –- together with that first level. The ones are most certainly the 2 phases in probably the most tough cases of the season.”