We assess the form of each World Rally Championship driver – including the four drivers still in title contention – heading into the final round of the 2020 season. Hyundai and Toyota are also super close in the battle for the manufacturers’ title.
Three rallies have taken place following the resumption of the series in September and they’ve shaped the championship picture as the series heads to Monza Rally for the first time ever.
#3 Teemu Suninen/Jarmo Lehtinen (Ford Fiesta WRC)
Last 3 WRC results: 5th-DNF-6th
Championship position and points: 6th, 44
Following a pre-event kicking from M-Sport boss, Rich Millener, Suninen appeared to turn a corner on Rally Italy. He provided eventual winner Dani Sordo’s biggest competition on Friday, before eventually falling to finish in fifth place.
It was certainly an improvement on a lackluster couple of rallies in Estonia and Turkey. Just six points separate Suninen and Lappi in the drivers’ championship, and Suninen is the Finn with the better form right now.
#4 Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm (Ford Fiesta WRC)
Last 3 WRC results: DNF-6th-7th
Championship position and points: 7th, 38
Lappi’s hopes of a first podium of the season were dashed by a blown engine just two stages into Rally Italy. It’s hard to base his form on such a small sample size, but he was second-fastest (to team-mate Suninen) on the opening stage.
It was certainly more promising than his rather middling Rally Turkey and tricky Estonian adventure, where he gave it his all, only to finish in seventh place.
#6 Dani Sordo/Carlos Del Barrio (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)
Last 3 WRC results: 1st-DNF-3rd
Championship position and points: 8th, 26
Fresh from taking his third WRC event win, Dani Sordo is the form man. He’s also won the Monza Rally Show twice, with victories in 2010 and 2013 aboard a Citroën C4 WRC and Citroën DS 3 WRC respectively.
Sordo’s experience of the event coupled with his road position and having less to lose should make it a crucial asset in Hyundai’s pursuit of the manufacturers’ crown. With team boss Andrea Adamo still deciding who should fill the team’s third car in 2021, another top result would confirm Sordo’s place in the team for another year.
#8 Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)
Last 3 WRC results: 6th-17th-1st
Championship position and points: 4th, 83
It’s not an exaggeration to say that Ott Tänak needs a miracle to defend his World Rally Championship title. He’s 28 points adrift of Evans with 30 points still on the table. Tänak’s title defense fell apart with a steering issue in Turkey and suspension woes on Rally Italy’s opening loop.
The 33-year-old ended Rally Italy with a powerstage win that just about keeps him in contention for the title. He can’t go completely for broke this weekend, with Hyundai hoping to convert a narrow seven-point advantage over Toyota into its second successive manufacturers’ championship.
#11 Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)
Last 3 WRC results: 2nd-2nd-DNF
Championship position and points: 3rd, 87
Thierry Neuville’s hopes of a first WRC title are slim but not impossible. Especially when you consider the form he’s displayed over the last couple of rallies. Neuville has picked up more points than any other driver across the previous two rallies, but he’ll likely need a maximum score this weekend and a heap of misfortunate for Evans and Ogier, for him to secure the title.
Things could have looked so different for Neuville had he not suffered from electrical issues on Rally México back in March and ended up in a ditch on Rally Estonia in September. His recovery across the last two events has been excellent and there’s little reason why that will change on Rally Monza.
#17 Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (Toyota Yaris WRC)
Last 3 WRC results: 3rd-DNF-3rd
Championship position and points: 2nd, 97
Title number seven? It’s not going to be easy, but Sébastien Ogier is firmly in the hunt to reclaim the drivers’ championship in his penultimate season in the series. He’s 14 points adrift of his team-mate Evans but he knows there’s plenty of drivers capable of finishing between the duo if Ogier can capture the win.
He beat Evans to the final spot on both Rally Estonia and Rally Italy despite some bad luck, but his unfortunate retirement from Rally Turkey – while Evans won – has taken the title fight out of the Frenchman’s hands. He’ll push Evans all the way to the powerstage and his own far-superior title-fighting experience may prove to be crucial.
#18 Takamoto Katsuta – Toyota
Last 3 WRC results: DNF-DNF-9th
Championship position and points: 14th, 8
Takamoto Katsuta went from hero to zero after two big shunts on Rally Italy ruined the progress that he’d displayed on Rally Estonia. In Estonia, Katsuta and co-driver Dan Barritt were on for fifth before a high-speed roll and showed huge potential.
There was little sign of that promise in Sardinia., with his two huge offs leaving his Toyota mechanics with plenty of work to do. Katsuta will be hoping to make the most of his Japanese Formula 3 experience to impress on the Monza Rally circuit stages.
#33 Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin (Toyota Yaris WRC)
Last 3 WRC results: 4th-1st-4th
Championship position and points: 1st, 111
Few would have expected Elfyn Evans to be leading his six-time world champion team-mate heading into the final round of the 2020 season. That’s not to say Evans wasn’t highly-rated prior to the season, but he had just one rally victory to his name and he’d never even had a sniff of contending for a drivers’ championship, let alone winning one.
There are a million different permutations for the title, but Evans’ record of never finishing outside the top four in a rally this season bodes well for the Monza finale. He doesn’t need to win his third rally of the year this weekend to secure his maiden WRC crown, even producing a third fourth-place finish in four rallies, would be enough to seal the title if Ogier fails to win.
#44 Gus Greensmith/Elliott Edmonson (Ford Fiesta WRC)
Last 3 WRC results: 25th-5th-8th
Championship position and points: 11th, 16
The 23-year-old’s future in the top class is still uncertain but he’s shown decent form in recent rallies. A solid if steady run to eighth place on Rally Estonia was followed up by a career-best fifth-place finish on Rally Turkey.
Unfortunately, he was unable to reproduce that form on Rally Italy and a crash on Saturday ended his three-rally run of points-scoring finishes. A return to the points wouldn’t do his ’21 chances any harm.
#69 Kalle Rovanperä/Jonne Halttunen (Toyota Yaris WRC)
Last 3 WRC results: DNF-4th-5th
Championship position and points: 5th, 70
The 20-year-old Finnish superstar was set to remain in contention for the Monza Rally season finale before an incident-filled Rally Italy canceled any slim hopes of an outrageous debut WRC title. Before then, Kalle Rovanperä brilliantly won the powerstage on Rally Estonia and he recorded a fifth-straight points finish on Rally Turkey.
There’s little reason to doubt that Rovanperä won’t be back to his best on Monza Rally, especially considering there’s the lack of the usual event experience deficit to most other drivers in the field.
#96 Ole Christian Veiby/Jonas Andersson (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)
Last 3 WRC2 results: 2nd-DNF-3rd
Championship position and points: 23rd, 1
Hyundai Motorsport’s World Rally Championship-2 ace Ole Christian Veiby will make his long-awaited Rally1 debut at Monza Rally. The Norwegian has earned his shot in the top class after years of impressing in the second tier.
He currently sits fourth in the WRC2 drivers’ championship, having finished on the podium on three of the five rallies he’s contested this season. Veiby along with his co-driver Jonas Andersson have experience of the Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC, having completed shakedown tests at Hyundai’s German test track.
Keep an eye on DirtFish.com plus our social media channels for the most comprehensive Monza Rally coverage this week.
We’ll have reports on every stage, all the news from the service park, on-the-scene conditions updates from Wednesday morning and regular video insight and interviews from Colin Clark and David Evans.
Then check back on Monday for David Evans’ unrivaled in-depth analysis of how the rally was won, our ‘things we learned’ rundown of the biggest talking points, the best pictures of the weekend (and some of the quirkiest from behind the scenes) and our driver ratings.