How accurate our WRC 2022 predictions were

The DirtFish Media team predicted the championship order before the season - here's how they stood up


A new year, 2023, is just a matter of hours away, meaning we’re just three weeks out from a new World Rally Championship season bursting into life.

Like us, you likely can’t wait.

But while the calendar still reads ‘2022’ for a final few hours, what better time to wind the clock back to this time a year ago and reflect on our writers’ predictions for the season just gone?

Anticipation was fever-pitch ahead of 2022 as the WRC was going hybrid for the very first time. With three all-new machines from Toyota, Hyundai and M-Sport Ford conforming to the new Rally1 regulations, predicting a championship order was certainly no easy task.


But that didn’t stop us asking our talented team to produce exactly that!

So here’s what the DirtFish media squad collectively predicted ahead of the 2022 season, measured against where each driver actually finished.

It is worth pointing out that neither Sébastien Loeb or Ogier were factored into the feature because the extent of their respective programs represented far too large an unknown in early January.

But even still, let’s just say some of this didn’t age all that well…

10=Dani Sordo -2

Actual position: 8th

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The highest ranking for Hyundai’s ever dependable Spaniard was ninth by Ida Wood; the lowest 11th by both David Evans and Luke Barry. Nobody thought he would finish as high as eighth.

In many respects that speaks more of his limited program and the lack of performance from some others than it does the team not expecting Sordo to produce. But did any of us really see a hot podium streak coming once more in Rally1 machinery?

10= Oliver Solberg +2

Actual position: 12th


The driver that shared the third Hyundai drive with Sordo, Oliver Solberg, came in with the exact same 10.14 average ranking, and thus shared 10th in our pre-season ranking. But the team’s opinion on what to expect was more varied.

Both Evans and Jack Cozens had Solberg as high as ninth, but Jack Benyon, Alasdair Lindsay and Stephen Brunsdon all predicted he’d finish outside the top 10. That proved accurate, as a tricky season with mistakes and car troubles led to a 12th place championship finish and a P45 as Hyundai altered its driver strategy.

9 Gus Greensmith +1

Actual position: 10th


Gus Greensmith’s 2022 started brilliantly with that euphoric stage win on round one and a pair of fifth places to start the season that had him a dizzying third in the championship after Sweden. But from there his form tailed off and he ended up one position and 20 points worse off than the year before.

Greensmith’s ranking was therefore one of our team’s most accurate predictions. While Wood had him as high as seventh in their individual ranking, they did point out that Greensmith was unlikely to produce the same consistent highs that he was able to alongside Chris Patterson. And so it proved.

8 Takamoto Katsuta -3

Actual position: 5th


Takamoto Katsuta surprised us all this year with two more WRC podiums and an impeccable run of consistent points scoring that was only interrupted once in New Zealand. The only one of our journalists to get remotely close to predicting his fifth place finish was Benyon with sixth.

Barry has the biggest egg on his face here with a prediction of ninth. But he was at least right in caveating that Katsuta’s strongest card to play would be his dependability rather than his raw turn of speed.

7 Esapekka Lappi +2

Actual position: 9th


Considering neither of the Sébs were factored in, a prediction of Esapekka Lappi to finish seventh isn’t too bad, all things considered. The entire team foresaw Lappi having a strong season (which he did) with, in the words of Lindsay, “podiums aplenty” (which he also did).

Evans’ words proved fairly prophetic: “The lack of a full program won’t hinder a Finn who’s found his way home.”

6 Adrien Fourmaux +10

Actual position: 16th

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Not one for any of us to shout about, this. Pre-season, Adrien Fourmaux was either sixth, seventh or eighth in the seven individual rankings that formed this collective list. Absolutely nobody envisaged Fourmaux finishing all the way down in 16th – behind two WRC2 drivers.

The expectation was that Fourmaux would build on his encouraging debut half-season, would have the legs on team-mate Greensmith and potentially even snag a couple of podiums. A barren run of DNFs and even three missing starts prove the reality to be rather different.

4= Ott Tänak -2

Actual position: 2nd


Evans and Brunsdon’s blushes are spared here as they each individually selected the 2019 world champion as their 2022 vice-champion, but a few low votes (fifth from Cozens and Wood) meant Ott Tänak shared fourth in our ranking with his Hyundai team-mate Thierry Neuville – with an average placing of 3.43.

Cozens rationalized his thinking by explaining that the recent trend was Neuville was still the internal top dog, while by contrast Brunsdon said Tänak’s raw speed should take him far and that the car could well be the factor that cost him. Hard to argue with that one even now, isn’t it?

4= Thierry Neuville -1

Actual position: 3rd


Compared to Tänak, Neuville’s peaks were higher but troughs a touch lower in our prediction. Four drivers had Neuville ahead of Tänak, and Cozens even picked out Neuville as the world champion – arguing that a repeat of a car letting him down rather than previous personal capitulations would be his biggest obstacle.

And while that didn’t culminate in a world title and in fact resulted in the first time Neuville was beaten by a team-mate at Hyundai, the reasoning also proved true. Benyon was the only panellist to correctly predict Neuville would place third, with others predicting he’d finish either second, fourth or fifth.

3 Craig Breen +4

Actual position: 7th


Nobody had a higher median average in our pre-season ranking than Craig Breen. In such strong form at the end of his part-time Hyundai career, the expectations were for Breen to thrive at M-Sport, leading the charge in a car that history suggested would be quick out of the box.

And as such, Lindsay had Breen down as the world champion – believing he could pull off the same trick Marcus Grönholm had in 2000 by winning his first WRC rally and then the world championship in the same season. Just two podiums proved that to be false. But nobody saw it coming with Breen ranking no lower than fourth in each journalist’s individual score.

2 Kalle Rovanperä -1

Actual position: 1st


If you didn’t know already, this confirms that, collectively, we didn’t correctly predict any of this year’s top 10. Barry and Brunsdon do save some grace by individually predicting that Rovanperä would top the world – Barry pointing out that all of the factors (namely experience) that had restricted him in the past were gone for 2022 with a new era of cars.

Most others did have Rovanperä down as a sure-fire contender. But Evans may want to look away now, as he predicted this year’s world champion would finish all the way down in sixth: He’ll win some rallies, but lack of experience in New Zealand will catch him out,” Evans said.

“Please don’t mention this feature if/when Kalle romps home to his first title…”

Sorry David.

1 Elfyn Evans +3

Actual position: 4th


Evans, Benyon and Wood all thought Elfyn Evans would win the championship this year after two years as runner-up to Sébastien Ogier. With Ogier regressing to just a partial season, the logic certainly stacked up.

“Has the speed, the consistency and the car to be champion,” Evans predicted.

But what ultimately unfurled was a winless season of anguish: good speed in places but never enough to consistently challenge, with a marriage between car and driver that didn’t mimic what had gone before.

One of our writers did see it coming: “I hope I’m wrong, but I envisage a tricky season for Evans,” wrote Barry, who thought Evans would finish even lower than fourth in fifth.

“He tends to be uncomfortable to push to his maximum unless things are 100% perfect, and in 2022 things will likely not be 100% perfect for quite some time.”

So there we are: DirtFish’s 2022 WRC predictions revisited. We didn’t get too many right, did we?

You can see what each member of the team individually voted for below – and let us know how good your pre-season predictions were, and indeed if you’d like to see the same from us ahead of 2023!

The individual votes

Evans 1 5 1 2 1 4 2
Rovanperä 6 1 2 3 2 1 5
Lappi 5 6 9 6 11 8 6
Neuville 4 2 3 5 4 5 1
Tänak 2 3 5 2 5 2 3
Solberg 9 10 11 11 10 11 9
Sordo 11 11 10 10 9 10 10
Breen 3 4 4 1 3 3 4
Greensmith 10 7 8 9 7 9 11
Fourmaux 8 8 7 7 6 6 8
Katsuta 7 9 6 8 8 7 7

Words:Luke Barry