The 2018 FIA World Rally Championship hit top gear with a spectacular high-profile launch at the Autosport International show in Birmingham on Thursday.
Manufacturer teams representing Citroën, Hyundai, M-Sport Ford and Toyota provided a first public look at their 2018 World Rally Cars as the quartet lined up side-by-side on the central stage during a day dubbed Takeover Thursday.
All the big-name drivers, co-drivers and team principals were present to share their views on the new season, two weeks before the prestigious Rallye Monte-Carlo (25 - 28 January) ushers in the opening action in Monaco’s glamorous Casino Square.
A packed day of WRC activities heralded the opening of Europe’s biggest pre-season motorsport show at the NEC Birmingham. All cars will stay on display throughout the weekend with more driver appearances lined up.
Toyota unveil their 2018 Yaris WRC in Birmingham.
Support category competitors from WRC 2 and Junior WRC also took part.
WRC Promoter managing director Oliver Ciesla said there was no better place to launch the championship than at an event affectionately regarded as the beginning of the new motorsport season.
“Takeover Thursday provided a marvellous opportunity to showcase the 2018 WRC to a global media audience. It was a fitting way to kick-off the new season and raise the anticipation ahead of the opening round in a couple of weeks. Let battle commence!” he said.
Mads Ostberg will drive a Citroen C3 WRC at the Swedish Rally.
Major news stories from launch day activities included:
WRC Promoter, the championship’s commercial rights holder, announced ground-breaking plans to show live coverage of every special stage from every rally as it happens. The new WRC All Live service will offer more than 25 hours of coverage from each round as a continuous live stream, including expert analysis from the WRC’s TV studio and breaking news, interviews and reactions from across the service park.
Ford announced extended support to M-Sport, winner of both the drivers’ and manufacturers’ titles in 2017. The renamed M-Sport Ford World Rally Team will receive additional technical help from Ford Performance in USA, as well as extra financial backing.
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