As the season goes on the waters surrounding the WRC drivers market are getting muddier rather than clearer. A trend that does seem to be appearing in the press is Citroen are out to get a top driver. Both Lappi and Ogier have been linked with the French manufacturer and should either make the leap the ramifications for other teams could be significant.
After Meeke’s departure Citroen have been honest in their intentions of trying to sign Sebastien Ogier. And why wouldn’t they try, the reigning champion has further proved his worth at M-Sport and is still arguably the best option for any team wanting to win championships. The cost will be high however and persuading Seb that they will be giving him a car that can win from the outset may be difficult.
We will see in time how negotiations go between Citroen and Ogier, however nervously awaiting the outcome and attempting to keep Seb will be M-Sport. Elfyn Evans has had a disappointing season after the high of Rally GB last year, fighting to keep his seat at the moment he certainly hasn’t shown team leading ability. Up and coming Finn Teemu Sunninen has great potential, however between him and the Welshman M-Sport will struggle to fight at every event for big championship points in 2019. Malcolm Wilson is a clever man though and as long as options are available the Cumbrian team could pull of a surprise driver line-up in 2019.
While over at Toyota I have seen recently Tommi Makkinen being surprised by Lappi and Citroen rumours. The Toyota team gave Lappi his big chance and he has rewarded them well with a win and several podiums in his short career. Toyota have also created an excellent car and a good team spirit to help the young Finn’s development. I would be surprised to see Esepekka make the move to join the French team however such a move would mean an interesting choice for Makkinen. Would he choose another up and coming youngster for the 3rd car, or with championship trophies certainly possible in 2019 would he opt for an established WRC driver to bring championship points?
For Citroens future in the WRC and the championship to thrive I hope to see a new top driver join over winter. However it seems clear that teams and drivers have hard choices to make over the coming months and strong management is crucial to be in the best position when Monte-Carlo 2019 comes around.