In brief

2021 Monte-Carlo Rally: who is in pole position?


The 2021 Monte-Carlo Rally, taking place from 21 to 24 January, is set to be a thrilling ride: a four-way fight for victory between two carmakers. Will Toyota or Hyundai cross the finish line first? Thierry Neuville is back to defend his title after claiming victory in Monaco for the first time last year. Will the Belgian be able to keep his crown? Or will Sébastien Ogier, Ott Tänak or Elfyn Evans knock him off the top spot?

Sébastien Ogier (Toyota Yaris WRC – World Rally Championship)


The 2020 edition of the race is fresh in his mind. After six straight years on top of the podium, Ogier had his reign interrupted by first-time winner Thierry Neuville. Fuelled by revenge, Sébastien Ogier wants to make history twice this year. This may even be his last time racing the legendary course. The Frenchman is considering ending his WRC career at the end of the season. Victory in 2021 would see him crowned champion for the eighth time: an all-time record. After previously driving Volkswagen, Ford and Citröen, victory this year would also earn him the accolade of having won behind the wheel of four different carmakers. German born Walter Röhrl (Fiat, Opel, Lancia, Audi) is the only other rider to have ever achieved this.

>> READ ALSO: Ogier, Loeb, Mäkinen, Röhrl, Sainz: the race to make history once again

Driving a Toyota for the second year in a row, the seven time world rally champion is emerging as this year’s favourite. Hot on the heels of the Gapençais rider, the current victor wont let Ogier go down without a fight. Will the Belgian be able to bring down the world champion on home soil?

Thierry Neuville (Hyundai i20 WRC)

Success in Monaco was finally his. Having spent the year living in the Principality, he won the Monte-Carlo rally for the first time last year. Victory here was unlike any other. The Belgian has spent years trying to knock Sébastien Ogier off the top spot. In an unforgettable rally, the Hyundai driver took many a risk and finally achieved his goal.

>> READ ALSO: Monte Carlo Rally 2020: Who’s the big favourite this year?

However, his greatest challenge still awaits him. Can he defend the title? After once again missing out on being crowned World Rally Champion last year, he wants to start this season with a bang. By maintaining a strong performance throughout, he hopes to claim the Holy Grail of the rallying world. Last year was his first win in Monte-Carlo, will this year bring his first championship title?

Ott Tänak (Hyundai i20 WRC)

Last year, his first time racing in a Hyundai i20 ended in a nasty crash. On the roads between Saint-Clément-sur-Durance and Freissinières the Estonian driver lost control of his vehicle. It cartwheeled down the track before careering over the embankment.

>> READ ALSO: Jacky Ickx : “Charles Leclerc is God’s gift to Monaco”

However, he is determined not to let this ordeal affect his chances of success in Monte-Carlo. After ranking third in the World Rally Championship last year, beaten by Sébastien Ogier and Elfyn Evan, Ott Tänak is raring to go and ready for revenge. Ogier and Neuville are expected to battle over the top two spots, but the 2019 world champion may become a first place contender.

Elfyn Evans (Toyota Yaris WRC)

He almost reached great heights. He came so close to the WRC summit. Born in Dolgellau ,Wales, Elfyn Evans topped the rankings for the most part of last year. However, Covid-19 resulted in a premature end to the season and Elfyn Evans cracked under the pressure. Unable to hold onto the top spot, fellow Toyota driver Sébastien Ogier was crowned world champion.

This seasons promises the return of the fierce fight between the French and British riders. Ogier may think his previous wins in Monte-Carlo place him in pole position, but… not so fast. His duel with Neuville will be crucial. In a bid to knock Ogier off course, Evans will be sure to make the most of any errors he makes. As for the weather, the heavy snow in Monte-Carlo will not deter the latest winner of Rally Sweden.