January 23-26, Monte Carlo, Monaco
The dust seems to have barely settled on a truly epic World Rally Championship season and we’re already looking ahead to the start of a fresh campaign, such is the pace of modern top-flight rallying.
There’s also been much change in the ranks across those few weeks. Citroën has been and gone, with the French firm’s talisman Sébastien Ogier quitting the Alsace firm to switch across to Toyota, replacing reigning champion Ott Tänak, who jumped ship to Hyundai just days after clinching his maiden title. With scarcely time to draw breath from that, Briton Elfyn Evans has swapped his M-Sport Ford Fiesta for a Tommi Mäkinen-prepared Toyota Yaris to line up alongside Ogier in what will undoubtedly be the Welshman’s biggest career test yet.
Ogier is a master of Monte Carlo, having won it six times on the trot – even when in a recalcitrant Citroën C3 last term – so expect the six-time world champion to be the man to beat. However, Tänak is unlikely to be hanging around in his new Hyundai, but can he overcome Belgian team-mate Thierry Neuville, who has much more experience at the wheel of the i30 WRC?
Monte will be a dramatic stage for the combatants to find out. With ever-changing conditions, fluctuating grip levels and some stunning scenery, it’s one of – if not the – highlight of the WRC calendar.
HOW TO GET THERE Despite Monaco having no international airport, the principality is easily accessible from land, air or sea. The closest airport is Nice in France, with regular flights from all major UK airports. Monaco’s main station – Gare de Monaco – is connected with most major cities, and plenty of cruise firms run boats regularly. Or for those who fancy a road trip, head to Calais and point yourselves south – admittedly for about 1200km.
ALSO GOING ON There’s plenty to do in Monaco, but be prepared to splash out if you’re headed to the casinos or high-profile bars.
DON’T MISS The spectacular Col de Turini stage. Set high in the Alps, the 19-mile mountain test features hairpins, tight roads and is the technical centrepiece of the rally. Plus the view’s not half bad either…
More December Events
Jan 4-6, Daytona, USA, Roar Before the 24
Jan 5-17 Dakar Rally
Jan 9-11, Dubai, Dubai 24 Hours Winter is an exciting time for GT racing, particularly in the Middle East. After the Abu Dhabi 12 Hours, the Dubai 24 kick-starts the Creventic endurance calendar and always features a huge grid with GT3, GT4 and touring cars.
Jan 9-12 Autosport Show, Birmingham
Jan 12, Australia, The Bend, Asian Le Mans Series
Jan 18, Chile, Formula E: Round 2 Just a month since Formula E burst back into life at Riyadh in Saudi Arabia it’s back in action in Chile’s capital, Santiago. Envision Virgin’s Sam Bird won the opener, but can they stave off Mercedes and Porsche again?
Jan 10-11 (Isola 2000), Jan 18-19 (Serre Chevalier), Jan 24-25 (Lans en Vercors), Andros Trophy Take your pick with three different rounds taking place this month. New faces to the field this year include legends such as Sébastien Loeb (with his own team) and Yvan Muller.
January 24-27, Daytona, USA, Daytona 24 Hours The Rolex Daytona 24 Hours is a stunner of an event, with the best of Le Mans and Daytona prototypes up against each other for the outright win, while there’s a host of world-class GT talent fighting it out, too.
Jan 31-Feb 2, Australia, Bathurst 12 Hours Their summer is our winter, so expect some scorching GT competition around Australia’s stunning Mount Panorama circuit. There will be a host of factory entries and in recent years the battles have gone to the final lap.
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