The 2018 Rally Australia saw Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia claim their sixth Drivers’ world title and their second with Ford/Michelin. Jari-Matti Latv...
The 47th FIA World Rally Championship was officially launched to the backdrop of Autosport International 2019 in Birmingham, England, on Saturday afternoon (January 12).
The organisers of the annual motorsport extravaganza expected a turnout of around 10,000 and visitors were treated to a parade by the WRC’s drivers in the company of the Michelin Man through the show’s halls before the cars were revealed in their 2019 liveries.
Ford-MSport’s Evans/Martin and Suninen/Salminen kicked off proceedings by unveiling the latest Ford Fiesta RS WRC which has reverted to the blue colour scheme seen during the 2016 championship. They were imitated by Toyota Gazoo Racing’s Tänak/Järveoja, Latvala/Anttila and Meeke/Marshall who presented the Yaris WRC, last season’s Manufacturers’ title-winning car.
Hyundai Motorsport’s new recruit Sébastien Loeb wasn’t able to attend due to his participation in the 2019 Dakar, but Neuville/Gilsoul, Mikkelsen/Jaeger and Sordo/Del Barrio were on hand to introduce the Hyundai i20 Coupé WRC which has a practically unchanged livery in 2019.
Last up were six-time world champions Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia who were joined by Finns Lappi/ Ferm to show off the Citroën C3 WRC which features the Red Bull branding the team ran from 2008 to 2012. A ‘1919’ logo at the rear of the car referred to the French make’s centenary celebrations.
With the exception of Ogier, who will continue to run as N°1, the drivers were asked to pick their competition numbers for 2019. Evans has opted for N°33, Neuville has gone for N°11 and Latvala has plumped for N°10. Meeke’s daughter chose N°5 for her dad, while Mikkelsen will took N°89, the year of his birth.
The presentation was followed by a series of interviews which were a new experience for Hyundai Motorsport’s newly-appointed Team Principal Andrea Adamo and Richard Millener who has taken over the same role from Malcolm Wilson at MSport.
Everyone will now reconvene in Gap, France, for the 2019 Rallye Monte-Carlo which will kick off the 14-round 2019 FIA World Rally Championship on January 24-27.