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  Home > Seasons > Season 2023
Tragedy and triumph
Following the dominant fashion with which Kalle Rovanpera ran away with 2022 title, expectations were that same would happen again. Although he was within a point of two of the championship leader in the early season, his first win and championship lead didn't happen until fifth event of the season in Portugal. After that he held the championship lead despite unexpected crash in home event in Finland and successfully defended his drivers' title. In the hindsight, his subdued start for the season is easier to understand when it was announced that Rovanpera would take a break and contest only partial programme in 2024, citing fatigue.

Toyota's lineup was much the same as before, Elfyn Evans being the other full-time driver while Ogier contested only selected events. With Lappi's departure, Takamoto Katsuta was promoted to score points for the team in events where Ogier wasn't contesting.

Hyundai finally got a new team principal when Cyril Abiteboul was signed for the job in January 11th, only shortly before first rally of the season. At the end of the year, he was also named president of entire Hyundai Motorsport division. That surely means he impressed Hyundai brass despite team's failure to clinch either of the titles.

Team had signed Esapekka Lappi for fulltime programme to support Neuville in his quest for the title. Unfortunately, while he definitely had the speed required, Lappi also crashed out four times during the season. Neuville had relatively good year, scoring two wins and numerous podiums but he also was found out to have conducted illegal recce in Safari and was subsequently disqualified from the rally. He eventually finished third in the series for the third year running.

Hyundai's Craig Breen died in an very unlucky accident in a pre-event test a week before Rally Croatia. As a mark of respect, Hyundai only entered two cars in Rally Croatia, choosing to keep Breen's spot vacant. Toyota honourably proposed to nominate only two cars in the event, which was accepted. FIA also retired competition number 42, Breen's number.

M-Sport's season started with high hopes as they had lured former world champion Ott Tanak away from Hyundai. Season started with powersteering failure for him in Monte Carlo but it seemed to be just an one-off glitch as Tanak went on to win next event in Sweden with style. But then, everything went downhill from there. In Mexico, he suffered turbocharger problem and finished 9th, retired after watersplash in Sardinia and experienced engine problems both in Estonia and Finland. In former, he got slapped with five minute penalty for engine change, in latter engine of his car failed completely. Coupled with other minor problems and handling of the car that wasn't to his liking, resigned Tanak decided to return back to Hyundai for 2024 season.

Drama also extends to the events as Acropolis comes under threat of cancellation, first due to large forest fires and then extensive flooding from torrential rains. Latter forces cancellation of shakedown and some stages are also shortened but in the end, rally is run successfully.

Calendar was published very late (25th Nov 2022) and contained some changes. Belgium, Catalunya and New Zealand were all dropped in favour of bringing back Mexico and Chile plus completely new tri-nation event called Central European Rally.

2023 FIA World Champions
(Click picture to see larger version in a pop-up window)
2023 FIA World Champions: Kalle Rovanpera and Jonne Halttunen Click picture to see larger version in a pop-up window
Drivers scoring their
first win
  no new winners
first drivers' point
  S. Pajari (Sweden)
  M. Marczyk (Sardinia)
  N. Ciamin (Central Eur. Rally)
  H. Arai (Japan)
first stage win
  no new stage winners