As three drivers bid for the title on BT Sport this weekend, we take a look at who could win and sum up a hectic 2020 season before the action gets under way!
By Virgin TV Edit
While pretty much everyone and their nans was aware of Lewis Hamilton clinching his record-equalling seventh F1 world title in November, another Brit is on the brink of ensuring Blighty’s second motorsport world championship in 2020.
Ahead of this weekend’s final round of the 2020 World Rally Championship, Welshman Elfyn Evans leads the standings, and stands a good chance of bagging both his maiden WRC title, and Britain’s first since 2001.
To do so would be a huge achievement for the Brit. Evans (above) had never led the championship prior to topping the table following his win at the shortened Rally Sweden back in February.
If he’s to replicate the late Colin McRae and Richard Burns, and become only the third British driver to win the coveted title, he’ll have to fend off two of the WRC’s fiercest competitors in six-time champion Sébastien Ogier and Belgium’s Thierry Neuville.
So how did we get here? What are Evans’ chances? And, crucially, who will be victorious on Sunday afternoon? Simply read on below to find out…
The 2020 season so far…
A condensed calendar has made the 2020 season one of the WRC’s most intense for years. Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville was the early pace-setter in Monte Carlo, though wins for Evans and Ogier in Sweden and Mexico respectively meant both Toyota drivers leap-frogged the Belgian.
A strong run of form from reigning champion Ott Tänak was too little too late for the Estonian’s faltering title defence, with Evans regaining the championship lead after another win in Turkey. But with Neuville and Ogier both taking a podium finish in October’s Rally Sardegna, they ensured the title fight would go to the final round.
Who is in contention for the title?
You could argue its Evans’ championship to lose. His first season since switching from M-Sport Ford to Toyota has been a success, with or without the title, his two wins in 2020 doubling the number he won in 2017, 2018 and 2019 combined. That said, this is the opportunity of a lifetime, and the pressure could take its toll.
Evans’ Toyota teammate and second-placed Ogier (above) is impossible to write off. Six titles between 2013 and 2018 make him the second most successful driver in the sport’s history. So while this weekend’s decider will bring an entirely new level of pressure for Evans, Ogier will be right at home.
Hyundai’s perennial runner-up Neuville (who’s finished second in the championship a whopping five times) has an outside chance, in third. He’ll need a catastrophic weekend from the Toyotas if he’s to overturn the 24-point deficit to Evans. It’s a long shot, but if fortune falls his way, he could pull it off.
Who will win the title?
Intriguingly, this weekend’s Monza Rally will be the first sanctioned WRC event at the venue. Its mixture of gravel and tarmac stages (some of which race around the legendary F1 circuit) could favour Neuville (above). But while the Belgian is still mathematically in the mix, realistically, the title is likely to go to one of the Toyotas.
Evans has a solid, though not impregnable, 14-point lead over Ogier. Either driver has a good chance of clinching another win this weekend. But, as we’ve seen with reigning champion Tänak’s dismal run of mechanical misfortune this season, literally anything can (and probably will) happen in the WRC.
So regardless of whether or not Evans makes history this weekend, WRC fans and rally newcomers alike are sure to witness one of the most captivating, tense and nerve-jangling sporting finales this year.
When is WRC Rally Monza on TV?
Thursday 3 December, 1pm, BT Sport 1 HD (CH 527)
Friday 4 December, 11.30am, BT Sport 2 HD (CH 528)
Friday 4 December, 2pm, BT Sport 2 HD (CH 528)
Saturday 5 December, 8am, BT Sport 2 HD (CH 528)
Sunday 6 December, 9am, BT Sport 2 HD (CH 528)
Sunday 6 December, 11am, BT Sport 2 HD (CH 528)
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