Which round of the WRC are you most looking forward to this year and why?

FROM: Northern Ireland Rally. I know, I know, I know, it’s not done yet. But can you imagine Thierry Neuville driving a Hyundai N Rally1 above Hamilton’s Folly? And what about the mood around Belfast during rally week, we talk daily about a cup final.

And then there’s the reward for the hard work of people like Bobby Willis, Simon Larkin and Ian Paisley Jr, who pulled out all the stops to make this one work. The roads, the people and the place all deserve a round of the WRC. Think positively. Were going.

How much I look forward to Rally NI can be contextualized by a schedule that includes a trip to Rally New Zealand for the first time in a decade. New Zealand is one of the best places in the world to drive a rally car (not to mention watch rugby, go sailing and drink a mind-blowing good sauvignon blanc), but I’d put a pint of Guinness in The Crown, Belfast before all that.

AL: All. Sidestep response, I know. But what I really hope to see is that every rally goes as planned. It’s been two years of constant reworking, and like just about everyone else, I’m sick of it.

Poor Rally Japan; he’s been prepped and ready to go for two years now and twice he’s been forced to cancel. Monte, I guess – those Rally1 rules have been discussed for a long time, but we’re finally going to see them in action for the first time. But I’m not picky.

KG: That’s the boring and predictable answer, but how could it not be the Monte Carlo Rally? Every year the Monte is special, but this year when we say no one knows what to expect, we really mean it.

With hybrid technology coming to the WRC service park for the first time, the danger is irrelevant. Whatever happens, the outcome should at least give us an indication of what’s to come later in the season. But nothing says that the team that starts the year looking the weakest could end it the strongest.

SB: While many are looking forward to this weekend’s Rally Monte-Carlo, I’ll have to choose my favourite: Rally Finland. The season opener is the dawn of the new hybrid era, but seeing what the new Rally1 cars can do on the fastest roads on the calendar is a tantalizing prospect.

Much of the new generation of cars remains unknown, but by the time the crews embark on their journey to Jyväskylä, the pecking order will have been established, a championship narrative will have been established and the pressure of a good result on this rally will no doubt be through the roof.

HR: Normally I’d say I’m a huge fan of seeing the riders take on the freezing conditions in Sweden. The control of the car needed to maintain just enough grip, while extracting the maximum from the car, never ceases to amaze me.

But this year especially, I’m looking forward to the Monte-Carlo Rally. Not only is the rally one of my favorites of the year, but this year’s event will also be the first time we’ve seen the new Rally1 cars go head-to-head in anger.

Monte Carlo will also be the first time we get a sense of what the competitive order will be like. The new regulations mean it’s possible for the pecking order to be shaken, and on Monte’s demanding roads it’s even more enticing.


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