WRC Could There Be Anymore Big Moves This Silly Season?
Ott Tänak’s departure from M-Sport raises a question, will there be any other big moves this WRC silly season?
Toyota doesn’t seem like a candidate for any big moves this silly season. As it seems Kalle Rovanperä and Elfyn Evans will stay with Toyota. Sebastien Ogier has already confirmed he will stay with the Japanese manufacturer. Takamoto Katsuta also likely isn’t leaving Toyota next season. Keeping all their current drivers seems like Toyota’s preferred option. As they currently hold three of the top five drivers in the championship. Along with the youngest champion in WRC history that is only getting better.
As for Hyundai, Thierry Neuville was the only driver for next season who had a contract before Tänak and Ogier received theirs. Dani Sordo, Esapekka Lappi and Teemu Suninen are all question marks. As with only three confirmed cars for next season, and two of which are occupied by Tänak and Neuville that leaves one car for the three drivers. Most likely Lappi and Suninen will split the car next season. However that all depends on Sordo. If Sordo wants the seat he will get it. Leaving Suninen or Lappi without a seat. In that scenario, Suninen will most likely get the seat. There has been talk of Hyundai getting a fourth car for next season. However, that likely won’t clear up this issue. As the fourth car will likely be used to help a young driver learn the ropes in a Rally1 car like Emil Lindholm.
M-Sport has no drivers confirmed for next season, and nobody is really tied to a Rally1 drive. As it sounds like the relationship between M-Sport and Pierre-Louis Loubet isn’t good and likely won’t continue. Adrien Fourmuax will likely return to Rally1 action next season with M-Sport. Other than that it’s been surprisingly quiet from M-Sport. Andreas Mikkelsen may get a drive with the team. However, it sounds as if M-Sport wants to go down the route of giving younger drivers the opportunity to drive a Rally1 car.
To Answer The Question
To put it simply, no there likely won’t be any other big moves this WRC silly season. Unless one comes out of nowhere which is unlikely. You could say the Tänak move back to Hyundai was unexpected so anything can be expected. However, that isn’t necessarily true. As it was suspected Tänak would leave M-Sport at the end of the 2023 season if a better opportunity presented itself.
What Drivers Could Move Around?
As for drivers who could actually move around this off-season, there’s a short list of them that are expected. To get the previously mentioned drivers out of the way, Esapekka Lappi, Pierre-Louis Loubet and Adrien Fourmuax are all candidates to be moved. Along with that trio, there are WRC2 Drivers Andreas Mikkelsen, Grégoire Munster, Oliver Solberg, Gus Greensmith and Emil Lindholm are moved up to a Rally1 car. To be clear, not all the WRC2 drivers mentioned can move up to a Rally1 drive as there are only so many seats. However, it’s hard to know who will get a seat if any of them will. It’s also worth noting there may be a driver that wasn’t listed that moves up unexpectedly.