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  Home > Seasons > Season 2019
Tanak to the fore
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On paper, Tanak's early season seems to have started reasonably well but a bit sputtering. Out of first five events he had won only one whereas both of his closest title rivals, Neuville and Ogier, both had claimed two apiece. Therefore, after Rally Argentina where Tanak had been halted by Toyota's faulty alternator, he was trailing championship leading Neuville by 28 points. His speed was not in question but even smallest problems with driving or car became major issues when opposition was almost as fast.

But then things changed. Ott won both Chile and Portugal and could have won in Sardinia as well hadn't his Toyota, again, failed him in final stage. To stamp his authority, Ott also won next two so by tenth event of the season in Deutschland, he had already won five rallies whereas his rivals hadn't been able to add to their tallies. With all this, he had reversed situation as now Neuville was trailing him by 33 points. This lead allowed him to weather another disastrous result in Turkey and to be crowned World Champion after one more win and careful drive to second in Catalunya.

His employer Toyota had less luck. Ott bagged plenty of points for the team but neither Meeke nor Latvala were able to win any while Hyundai kept utilizing their wider driver pool throughout the season. Toyota lost their fighting chance when final rally in Australia was cancelled due to extensive bush fires. This meant that Hyundai finally won the title which had eluded them for so long - but in a way that left unsatisfied taste. Given their driver lineup for 2020, they should have no trouble retaining that title with honors.

Citroen had placed great hopes on returning Ogier whom they had recruited from M-Sport with money and promises of development with the troubled C3 WRC. Judging by the fact that Ogier was able to keep up, if only barely, with his title rivals, Citroen wasn't out of the contention just yet. But it was quite evident that correcting the wrong direction team had taken when designing the car would take longer than anticipated.

Changes
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For the first time since 2010, calendar was set to be expanded. By adding a new event based in Chile, calendar would hold 14 events but since final rally in Australia was cancelled, calendar expansion didn't happen.

New WRC-2 Pro category was added in order to allow professional, manufacturer backed entries compete separately from privateers. At the same time poorly supported WRC-3 championship was dropped as it basically had been 99% same as JWRC.

Funniest change was introduction of permanent competition numbers. Though idea is basically sound, it also meant that entry lists could no longer be sorted in ascending order by competition number alone and team cars could carry quite odd numbers.

Two important changes took place in 2019 though they were to affect 2020 season more. Firstly, Ott Tanak left Toyota for Hyundai only four days after he had secured his drivers' title. Secondly, three weeks later Citroen announced that they wouldn't take part in 2020 season as they were about to lose Ogier who moved to Toyota to fill in gap left by Tanak. These changes will make 2020 season two-horse race and I fear that most interesting battle will be the one between Hyundai's lead drivers Neuville and Tanak.

New cars
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Nothing new under the sun. No wait, that's not true but no new cars debuted.

Citroen was busiest changing and developing their car in order to find speed and predictability in handling to satisfy Ogier's demands. In the end, their work came to nothing as none of their goals was reached - Ogier couldn't fight for the title and Citroen couldn't retain his services for 2020 season.

2019 Champions
(Click picture to see larger version in a pop-up window)
2019 FIA World Champions: Ott Tanak and Martin Jarveoja Click picture to see larger version in a pop-up window
Drivers scoring their
first win
  no new winners
first drivers' point
  A. Fourmaux (Monte Carlo)
  M. Bulacia Wilkinson (Mexico)
  E. Bergkvist (Portugal)
  P. Loubet (Portugal)
  N. Gryazin (Finland)
  T. Katsuta (Deutschland)
first stage win
  J. Huttunen (Sweden)
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