For the final time in 2021, the World Rally Championship’s teams and drivers are preparing for battle. This week, the championship lands at the iconic Italian Grand Prix venue – Monza – for the second time.
The main WRC title fight still lives on, as does WRC3 where the contenders arrive level on points. Andreas Mikkelsen has already secured the WRC2 title meanwhile, and therefore competes for something of a glory run.
Here’s our support class preview for the 2021 Monza Rally.
Seeded entry list:
|20||Andreas Mikkelsen||Phil Hall||Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo|
|21||Marco Bulacia||Marcelo Der Ohannesian||Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo|
|22||Jari Huttunen||Mikko Lukka||Ford Fiesta Rally2|
|25||Enrico Brazzoli||Manuel Fenoli||Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo|
With no title at stake, it’s a slightly depleted WRC2 entry for Monza – but there’s still plenty of intrigue.
Mikkelsen – who will be driving with a gold livery instead of green to celebrate his WRC2 and European Rally Championship successes – will be competing with another new co-driver as Elliott Edmondson has migrated to partner Oliver Solberg in a 2C Competition Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC.
Phil Hall has been recruited for his first four-wheel-drive WRC start following a year alongside Jon Armstrong in Junior WRC.
Elsewhere, perhaps the most intriguing entrant is Jari Huttunen. He’s switched from Hyundai to M-Sport – copying the move made by Craig Breen a month earlier – and it’ll be fascinating to see how he fares in a new team and with a new car.
Nikolay Gryazin (who will stick with the Škoda he drove on Rally Spain) and Georg Linnämae will both also compete in Monza but have already entered their maximum permitted number of events – seven – so are ineligible to score WRC2 points.
Top 10 seeded entry list:
|26||Kajetan Kajetanowicz||Maciej Szczepaniak||Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo|
|27||Yohan Rossel||Jacques-Julien Renucci||Citroën C3 Rally2|
|28||Chris Ingram||Ross Whittock||Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo|
|29||Josh McErlean||James Fulton||Hyundai i20 N Rally2|
|30||Mauro Miele||Luca Beltrame||Škoda Fabia Rally2|
|31||Grégoire Munster||Louis Louka||Hyundai i20 N Rally2|
|32||Giacomo Ogliari||Giacomo Ciucci||Citroën C3 Rally2|
|34||Pablo Biolghini||Marco Menchini||Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo|
|35||Andrea Crugnola||Pietro Ometto||Hyundai i20 N Rally2|
|36||Stefano Albertini||Danilo Fappani||Hyundai i20 N Rally2|
Plenty still hangs in the balance in WRC3, as Yohan Rossel lost the appeal against his exclusion from the Acropolis Rally in September and remains locked in battle for the title.
Rossel had won the Acropolis but his Citroën C3 Rally2’s front subframe was judged to be too heavy and he was therefore thrown out of the results. An appeal was held last week, and the original decision was upheld.
That means Rossel and Kajetan Kajetanowicz essentially head into a winner-takes-all finale at Monza.
Chris Ingram doesn’t care about this though and has added Monza to his 2021 program in a bid to ready himself for a push in WRC2 next season.
Hyundai juniors Josh McErlean and Grégoire Munster will both try the new i20 N Rally2 for size in WRC competition for the first time. Both drivers contested this event last year so could spring a surprise in the final reckoning.
As expected, WRC3 is littered with the cream of Italian talent which includes Andrea Crugnola and Stefano Albertini – who has switched from a Fabia to i20. Briton Frank Bird sticks out among the wash of Italians but could go well in his Ford Fiesta Rally2 if form on UK rallies translates.
Elsewhere, Stéphane Lefebvre looks to have repeated the trick Emil Lindholm trialed for Rally Spain; entering as the co-driver alongside Giles de Turckheim in the #45 Citroën C3 Rally2.
Unlike Lindholm who entered in this cheeky manner to fit another rally into his schedule, Lefebvre likely intends to do so as WRC3 restricts any drivers who have driven for a factory team in the last five years from competing. Lefebvre drove for Citroën Racing in a C3 WRC four years ago in 2017.