10 things to look forward to in WRC 2024

Our team has picked out some key themes of the year ahead to keep an eye on


It’s finally here. Silly season has been and gone; 2023 belongs to the history books. The calendar has ticked over into 2024: a new season of the World Rally Championship is upon us.

There have been some driver line-up changes, a minor shake-up to the calendar, and some rules have been tweaked. But with everything that’s going on, where’s the best place to start as anticipation builds for the year ahead?

DirtFish’s media team has picked out 10 narratives to keep an eye on during the upcoming WRC season.

A new title race dynamic

More than anything, I’m very much looking forward to what is bound to be an intriguing battle for the 2024 drivers’ championship title. With Kalle Rovanperä out of the picture with his part-time schedule, I’m expecting a three-way tussle that could quite easily go all the way to the final round in Japan.


It’s so difficult to call this one – and the championship hasn’t really seen anything like it for decades. In the noughties, you’d bet your house on Sébastien Loeb taking the title; then came Sébastien Ogier and his near decade of domination. And let’s face it: if Rovanperä was doing a full season, the house would go on him every time.

But who would you bet your house on this coming year? I’m so uncertain as to who will come out on top that I wouldn’t be betting five euros with any degree of certainty, never mind the house!

And that’s exactly what the championship needs. Domination doesn’t delight, but open competition compels. It’ll be interesting to see how the bookies work this one out: I’d almost have Tänak, Neuville, and Evans as joint favorites.

Colin Clark

Poland’s WRC return

Yes, we’ve seen fast in Finland. But this is fast Poland spec. It’s different. Narrower. More rutted. More lateral ballistic. Just a little bit more bonkers. The spectacle of Rally1 cars thundering through the Polish Lake District will be an absolute sight to behold – as will the number of spectators lining the route.


Prepare yourself for one of the most popular rallies in years. It’s going to be massive. In fact, if you’re planning a trip, it may not be a bad idea to leave now, just to be sure of bagging yourself a decent spot in the first stage.

The only thing that might make Rally Poland’s return that bit more welcome would be a motorway going direct from Warsaw to Mikołajki. Either that or a pop-up airport alongside the season’s biggest hotel, which will double, as usual, as the service park. It’s fair to say, it’s a fairly long ride from plane to place to stay.

David Evans

The unusual points system

Yes, this is a controversial one. It’s not the easiest thing to explain to a casual fan. Having the majority of points contingent on completing a day in which you don’t score those points is a bit bizarre on the face of it.

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What the new Saturday-Sunday split is trying to achieve is clear: stop coasting on Sunday when the classification is mostly stagnant. Give the drivers something else to fight for. But when these sorts of radical changes to points systems happen, there’s sometimes no knowing what the side effects will be.

If it does the job, perhaps it can become the first stepping stone towards greater change and greater flexibility in approaching how we reimagine rallying for the modern era. Perhaps it’ll encourage decision makers to take a few more risks to revitalize rallying’s premier product.

Could it descend into farce? Perhaps. Could it end up working like an absolute charm? That’s also possible. But seeing how it changes the dynamic of WRC Sundays, that’s definitely worth paying attention to. Let someone else worry about the calculator.

Alasdair Lindsay

Rally Latvia’s WRC debut

In adding brand-new stages to the championship, which none of the drivers will have memorized, Rally Latvia will be a different type of challenge to any other event this year, as the driver who can adapt the fastest to the new routes is likely to have an advantage.

Hayden Paddon

That said, of all the current WRC factory drivers, Rovanperä has the most mileage on Liepāja’s roads, so I expect he would hit the ground running – as long as he shows up, that is.

As a new event in the WRC, Latvia also has the chance to showcase itself to the world. I’m looking forward to seeing the wonderful sights of a new country as we watch rally cars rush through the Latvian countryside.

But most of all, I can’t wait to see how the Latvian fans embrace and celebrate having the WRC visit their country. Rallying is huge in the Baltic region; I expect to see fanatical support and a party-like atmosphere, just as we’ve seen in neighbouring Estonia in the last few years.

Latvia also has its own hero to support, in the form of Rally2 driver Mārtiņš Sesks. The local lad, whose father was formerly mayor of Liepāja, won the event two years on the bounce when it was round of the European Rally Championship. He will surely be the favorite to win his home WRC event in the WRC2 class.

James Bowen

Toyota shaking up the WRC2 order

WRC2 in 2023 had it all. But Toyota’s introduction of the GR Yaris Rally2 will add another variable to an already densely populated and competitive category. We’ve all seen the testing videos from the snowy Alps; the car just looks great.


Škoda has dominated in recent years with the Fabia, to a point where the drivers title has been of most interest in WRC2. But with Citroën upping their driver roster, Solberg signed and set for a championship push as Škoda’s leading light, and the Fiesta looking in better shape, we’re surely going to see a bigger push from manufacturers for a championship than before.

Eliot Barnard

Abiteboul as Hyundai’s supreme ruler

Potentially key to who comes out on top is the ability of Hyundai supremo Cyril Abiteboul to manage and ultimately get the best out of his two, at times fractious, superstar drivers.

I very much enjoyed watching former team principal Andrea Adamo working his magic in keeping Tänak and Neuville just about in line. But we all know Cyril plays a very different game.

Thanks to his recent promotion to Hyundai Motorsport president, alongside his team principal duties, he has ultimate power in that team now. But he’ll have to use it wisely, and maybe even somewhat diplomatically, if he is to deliver the results that his Korean paymasters are no doubt expecting.


Characters, as well as sporting excellence, make championships so compelling. And in Abiteboul, there is no question we have an intriguing and engaging character. He might well turn out to be something of a star in 2024. Or he might turn out to be a bit of a villain. Either way, I can guarantee we’ll be seeing and listening to a lot more of the man in the coming year.

Colin Clark

Rally Star graduates joining Junior WRC

Three years on from the announcement that the FIA was creating an initiative to turn complete novices into full-blown rally drivers, we will finally get to see the young talents of the FIA Rally Star program perform on the world stage in 2024.

From the thousands of people who entered the selection events, held as either esports competitions or slalom challenges in the real world, four drivers have made it to the Junior WRC, where they will each complete full-season campaigns.

Among the crop of graduates are Max Smart and Jose ‘Abito’ Caparó – two drivers who had never started a rally 12 months ago but now find themselves competing against the world’s best young rally drivers.


There’s Taylor Gill, the 20-year-old Australian who won three of the six events in the Rally Star “training season” and has earned the chance to become the first Aussie WRC star since Chris Atkinson a decade ago.

And then there’s Estonia’s Romet Jürgenson; a man who had given up on his dreams of becoming a rally driver before this program and had instead switched to studying law at university. The 24-year-old also won three Rally Star events last year and looks every bit like a future WRC star.

It’s going to be fascinating to see how the Rally Star grads fare against the Junior WRC’s other young talents in 2024.

James Bowen

Finally, a long-term vision?

In the lead-up to the 2022 season kicking off, I recall writing about how it would be the year we’d see huge decisions being made about the long-term future of rallying, even though it was the debut year of Rally1 in the WRC. Messrs Ben Sulayem and Reid had just been installed in the top two jobs at the FIA along with an impending change of rally chief, and a widespread recognition that the new hybrid regulations were a temporary solution to a permanent problem.


Two years have passed. No tangible progress has been made, hence the urgency of establishing a working group to tackle the future of rallying headed by Reid and David Richards last month.

Is the answer at the top level of rallying to rein in the complexity of hybrid systems? Do we embrace hydrogen, as Toyota has repeatedly hinted at a preference for? And what of the support categories?

What I’m looking forward to, probably towards the end of the year, is the coalescing of an overall vision for what rallying looks like in a post-hydrocarbon world. A hope that multiple car manufacturers have sat around the same table as the FIA, decided on what they want, and are willing to make some sort of commitment to it. That the newly established working group figures out the big picture stuff. A big ask, I know. But it’s a new year; we can only start it with hope.

Alasdair Lindsay

Kenya’s return to its traditional calendar slot

I am massively looking forward to going back to Kenya for the Safari Rally, but slightly earlier in 2024 than last year: March, rather than June.


I have no idea what this change means for the weather and conditions (George Donaldson’s your man for that!) but what I know it does mean is that we’ll be seeing our wonderful Kenyan DirtFish fans that little bit sooner.

The support for what we do completely blew me away when we visited in 2023. Come March this year we will have DirtFish stickers this time. That’s a promise!

Eliot Barnard

Rally TV bringing back a familiar face

Mike Chen’s return to WRC’s Rally TV service is definitely a positive for rally watchers right the way around planet earth. Here at DirtFish, we were fortunate enough to enjoy Chenny’s company when he joined us for Croatia’s world championship round a few years ago.

His unwillingness to drive or go anywhere near a map were balanced in Zagreb by his professionalism, energy and charisma (not to mention an unstinting ability to stand his round at the bar). While he’s popped in and out of WRC coverage in the last couple of years, his continued knowledgeable, entertaining commentary and insight make a welcome full-time return in 2024.

Welcome home, Chendog.

David Evans

What aspect of WRC 2024 are you most looking forward to? Tell us in the comments below!