New rules, new rides and new rallies are among the highlights in store during the 2024 FIA World Rally Championship, which gets back to action on next week’s Rallye Monte-Carlo.
Taking place from January 24-28 and signalling the start of season three of the Rally1 hybrid era, Rally Monte-Carlo’s 92nd edition will shine the spotlight on several rule changes recently approved by the World Motor Sport Council.
Instead of awarding points to the top 10 after a WRC event on a sliding scale of 25-18-15-12-10-8-6-4-2-1, points will now be allocated at the end of Saturday’s leg as follows: 18-15-13-10-8-6-4-3-2-1. However, points won’t be assigned if a crew fails to complete the entire rally route with the pairing finishing behind collecting their scores instead.
A separate classification for the Sunday stages awards points to the top seven (7-6-5-4-3-2-1) to discourage the practice of drivers opting to go slower through Sunday morning’s stages ahead of a push on the Wolf Power Stage, which has adversely affected the spectacle for fans watching the final day of a WRC event unfold. The 5-4-3-2-1 Wolf Power Stage points will continue to be handed out to the fastest five crews on the event-deciding test.
While the points system has changed for 2024, Rallye Monte-Carlo’s legendary status and challenging reputation remain unaltered.
First run in 1911, Rallye Monte-Carlo is ranked as one of the most demanding events on the WRC calendar. With snow and ice often making narrow, winding mountain roads even more testing amid changing and inconsistent grip levels, selecting the right tyre for the conditions can mean the difference between victory or defeat.
A capacity 70-car entry has been assembled for the opening event of the WRC season, which consists of 17 stages over a competitive distance of 324.44 kilometres.
Several hundred volunteer marshals and officials will provide their expert support and assistance to the rally organiser, the Automobile Club de Monaco.
Meanwhile, Rally1 drivers can choose between official supplier Pirelli’s P Zero soft and supersoft tyres plus its Sottozero snow tyre with or without studs for Rallye Monte-Carlo. Teams can use a maximum of 38 tyres per car including four for Shakedown.
The ceremonial start on Thursday 25 January in Monaco will take place in attendance of FIA Deputy President Sport Robert Reid.
THE ROUTE IN SHORT
With the event relocating to Gap from Monaco in search of more wintry weather, a significantly altered route is in store. Kicking off with Shakedown on a 3.28-kilometre stage close to the rally’s hub in Gap from 16:31 local time on Wednesday, January 24, much of Thursday is devoted to several fan and media activities in Monaco.
These include the FIA WRC Meet the Crews live interview session, autograph signing and the traditional ceremonial start in front of the principality’s famous casino. However, there’s also some serious competition courtesy of the opening two stages in the departments of Alpes-de-Haute-Provence and Hautes-Alpes.
Run at night, the Thoard-Saint-Geniez (21.01 kilometres) and Bayons-Bréziers (25.19 kilometres) stages provide a tough but spectacular early test.
Following service and an overnight halt in Gap, the rally resumes on Friday with the action (two loops of three repeated stages) located host of the host city in Alpes-de-Haute-Provence and Hautes-Alpes.
At 120.40 timed kilometres, Saturday’s leg west of Gap is the longest of the rally. Three stages each run twice are held in the Hautes Alpes, Drôme and Isère.
The long journey south to Monaco on Sunday includes three stages with the iconic La Bollène-Vésubie / Col de Turini test forming the Wolf Power Stage. The prize-giving ceremony in Monaco’s Casino Square is due to begin at 16:15.
RALLYE MONTE-CARLO DATA
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Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT: Sébastien Ogier, the eight-time world title winner, will go for a 10th Rallye Monte-Carlo victory at the start of his third partial season in the WRC. Having opted to join Ogier as a part-time contender, reigning world champion Kalle Rovanperä won’t be in action on the season opener. Elfyn Evans, WRC runner-up in 2023, and Takamoto Katsuta complete the Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 Hybrid line-up.
Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team: Ott Tänak returns to Hyundai after a season away competing for M-Sport and will join Thierry Neuville in mounting a full-season campaign. Esapekka Lappi, Andreas Mikkelsen and Dani Soro will share the squad’s third Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid across the season with Mikkelsen on Rallye Monte-Carlo duty.
M-Sport Ford World Rally Team: Adrien Fourmaux and Grégoire Munster bring a youthful enthusiasm to the British squad, which made history in 2022 when it won the first event of the Rally1 era with its Ford Puma Rally1 Hybrid.
Twenty-two crews are eligible for WRC2 points on Rallye Monte-Carlo with Yohan Rossel leading the entry in a Citroën C3 Rally2. His fellow Frenchman Nicolas Ciamin is the top Hyundai i20 N Rally2 competitor, with Spain’s Pepe López the highest-seeded Škoda Fabia RS Rally2 driver. Stéphane Lefebvre gives the all-new Toyota GR Yaris Rally2 its WRC debut as John Wartique (Ford Fiesta Rally2) prepares to make his first WRC start.
Having won the FIA ERC4 Championship in 2023, Roberto Daprà steps up to WRC2 level for 2024 and brings support from the ACI Team Italia driver development programme. Nikolay Gryazin, who switches to Citroën power in 2024, tops the list of WRC Challenger contenders.
2019 ERC champion Chris Ingram enters in a Škoda Fabia RS with female co-driver Hannah McKillop at his side, while Mauro Miele starts his bid to reclaim the WRC Masters Cup title that he lost in 2023. Sami Pajari (Toyota GR Yaris Rally2) and Oliver Solberg (Škoda Fabia RS Rally2) haven’t nominated Rallye Monte-Carlo as one of their seven scoring rounds but will be in contention for RC2 category honours. Jan Černý (Ford Fiesta Rally3) and Ghjuvanni Rossi (Renault Clio Rally3) are among the FIA WRC3 Championship runners.
WHAT ELSE IS NEW FOR 2024?
- Points are no longer awarded to the fastest three FIA WRC2 crews on the Power Stage to make the distribution of points fair for all due to the unavoidable gaps in the event running orders.
- Poland returns to the WRC roster for the first time since 2017, while Latvia makes its debut in the championship following its elevation from the FIA European Rally Championship, when the event ran as Rally Liepāja. Safari Rally Kenya is back to its traditional Easter calendar slot having run in June in recent seasons. The Central European Rally is scheduled to run one week later than in 2023.
- Secto Rally Finland is included on the FIA Junior WRC Championship schedule after a break of five years. The one-make category for Rally3 cars on Pirelli tyres begins at next month’s Rally Sweden.
- A maximum of three new hybrid units can be used per eligible Rally1 car in 2024 – compared to the previous nine – under rules to reduce the cost of competing.
- Rally1 cars can compete on WRC events without running the standard plug-in hybrid system. However, they must carry the equivalent weight of the full EV system in ballast and won’t be eligible for Manufacturers’ championship points.
- Providing the FIA Technical Delegate is informed and is allowed to seal the new engine before its use, there will be no penalty to change a failed engine between pre-rally scrutineering and TC0 – the formal start of an event. However, each manufacturer must not use more than two engines per car per season with each engine assigned to a specific car name. For 2024, no more than two engines may be sealed per car name.
- Priority 2 crews can utilise the services of route note crews for sections of a WRC event run entirely on asphalt.
- To set the running order for Priority 2 crews, championship positions (at the end of the previous season for Rallye Monte-Carlo) are considered in addition to expected performance.
- Key media, influencers, celebrities and other VIP guests can experience the thrill of a high-speed passenger ride – and sample Rally1 hybrid technology – on all rounds of the WRC to further increase the promotion of the championship.
- Drivers and co-drivers competing for FIA WRC3 honours can count their best six scores from a maximum of seven rallies.
- To score WRC Masters’ Cup points, drivers and co-drivers must be born on or before January 1, 1974, while co-drivers must be paired with an eligible driver. The best six scores from seven starts can be counted but there is no longer the possibility to add a bonus score from an event outside Europe.
- Failure to have a timecard marked or signed at a control, for a time entry not to appear on a timecard or for a timecard not to be presented at a control, can no longer result in exclusion from an event if it can be proved the crew has correctly passed a control.