Nicolas Gilsoul’s departure from the seat alongside Thierry Neuville might have made the headlines last week, but the Belgian split’s not the only co-driver story in town at this week’s Monte Carlo Rally.
For some it’s the beginning of the end and, for others, the end of a new beginning.
Carlos del Barrio makes his final appearance alongside Dani Sordo in a Hyundai Motorsport i20 Coupe WRC while Mikko Markkula is back working with Teemu Suninen in the M-Sport Ford Fiesta WRC.
del Barrio will make way for Sordo’s new co-driver Borja Rozada after next week. Both co-drivers were present at Sordo’s pre-Monte Carlo Rally test in France on Wednesday.
Rozada, pictured below in del Bario’s overalls, won the 2012 PWRC title with Benito Guerra. Most recently, he has spent his time mentoring a Carlos Sainz protégé in Pepe López. The pair won Peugeot’s 208 Rally Cup in France in 2016 before switching to a Citroen C3 R5 to win back-to-back Spanish Super Championship (mixed surface) and Spanish Rally Championship (asphalt only) titles for the last two years.
Talking about his new co-driver Sordo said: “Of course, it will be difficult changing co-driver and we will need a little bit of time to adapt.
“Some things are better and other things are not the same as before, but I am looking forward to the challenge. Borja is a really good guy and a great co-driver. In my opinion, he was the best option in Spain at the moment.”
Markkula spent four years working with Suninen earlier in his career and returns to the factory Fiesta for the first stage on Thursday. Unfortunately, a commitment to co-drive Juha Salo’s Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo to fourth place on last week’s Arctic Lapland Rally meant Markkula missed Suninen’s pre-Monte test, but Suninen’s confident they will soon be back on the same page.
“Monte’s a good chance for me and Mikko to get used to each other again,” he said. “We’ve not sat together since 2018, but I’m sure it will all come back to us and we plan to give it our very best next week. Anything is possible on an event like Monte Carlo, and we plan to make the most of every opportunity and push for the best possible result.”
Additional reporting by Nacho Villarín