Most would agree that in 2019, Ott Tanak was the fastest rally driver in the WRC, driving the fastest car in the WRC.
But is that really the case? I guess we’re about to find out.
Generally speaking, the best drivers in the World Rally Championship over the last three years have been Tanak, Sebastien Ogier and Thierry Neuville.
In 2020, only Neuville will be driving the same car – a car which he has yet to win the world title in.
Ogier’s two world championships in the latest WRC car era have come in the Ford Fiesta, but he – like others – was unable to fully tame the troublesome Citroen C3 this year.
So, does that mean the six-time World Rally Champion will be the driver to catch in 2020, driving the car that took Tanak to the title?
Perhaps, but maybe not.
If Tanak is as good as we all believe he is, then next season could be Hyundai’s best chance yet to clinch the Drivers’ title.
If he can do what Neuville has been unable to do in three seasons, then his reputation in the sport will go up even more notches.
Or, will it be Ogier, equipped with the Yaris WRC, who is the pacesetter and has a seventh title within his grasp?
The connotations make for an intriguing start to the 2020 WRC season, and already teams are testing furiously in order to gain the upper hand.
Testing stage times are never released, and it’s only the technical wizards who can pick up variations, changes or improvements in performance from watching videos on YouTube, but there’s no doubt we’re in for some surprises.
It may be more than three drivers who are in with a shot of the title too.
Elfyn Evans’ switch to Toyota, Kalle Rovanpera’s promotion to the main game, and a new driver at M-Sport – whoever that may be – could all prove to be masterstrokes.
What we do know is that Kris Meeke has bid the WRC goodbye, Jari-Matti Latvala will be back in a Yaris for Sweden, Finland and perhaps three other events, and that Hayden Paddon’s focus will be closer to home.
That doesn’t account for Craig Breen, Esapekka Lappi, Mads Ostberg or several others though, so until M-Sport Ford make their decision, we all wait with baited breath.
As is often the case, the season between seasons is often the WRC’s most exciting!