Our very own Rally navigator Stuart Loudon gives us the inside track to rallying in the UK and further afield.
It’s the beginning of the end for the current crop of World Rally Cars – and what a finale we have in store.
Here are Stuart Loudon’s 16 reasons for looking forward to 2016…
1 Fourteen’s better than 13. If it was up to you and me, we’d rarely have a week without a World Rally Championship round – so an extra one from last season’s fine by me.
2 China. I competed in the Chinese Rally Championship with Alister McRae last season and, trust me, it’s an experience you won’t forget in a hurry. It’s a fantastic – and crazy – place.
3 Even closer competition. The championship leader running first on the road on Friday and Saturday, regardless of who’s retired and returning under Rally 2 regulations means this year’s events will be closer than ever.
4 Warmer in Wales. It’s statistically less likely to rain in October than it is in November. And statistics are always, always right. #binthebrolly
5 A full Hyundai season for Hayden Paddon. Like everybody, I was really excited to see the pace coming from Hayden last year and it’ll be fascinating to see how he goes in his first full year in the World Rally Championship in 2016.
6 Talking of Hyundai, another reason to be cheerful is the work my mate Seb Marshall will be doing with Kevin Abbring in testing and developing Hyundai’s third new World Rally Car in as many years!
8 While we’re on the subject of heroes from around these parts, let’s not forget Kris Meeke, Paul Nagle, Elfyn Evans and Craig Parry; they’re sure to light the World Rally Championship up every time they tighten their belts this season.
9 Mads Ostberg back at M-Sport. Mads always looked more at home in a Ford Fiesta RS WRC than he did in a DS 3. Potential winner this year? You bet.
10 M-Sport on top of the podium again. See above.
11 Toyota. Not long now until the world’s biggest carmaker comes back to the World Rally Championship. #welcomehome
12 No more false starts. Bravo to the FIA for handing a time of 10 minutes to any driver jumping the start at shakedown. This, we’re told, was becoming increasingly common as some crews tried to get an early upper hand over their rivals. The little tinkers. #illegallyeagerbeavers
13 Fifty miles in Mexico. How cool is that new Guanajuato stage on the final day of Rally Mexico. It’s going to be epic.
<14 DMACK and Ott Tanak. For the first time, DMACK will contest the entire World Rally Championship with a Ford Fiesta RS WRC. And the car will be driven by the super-talented Tanak.
15 Better telly than ever in Britain. Channel 5, BT Sport and S4C will combine to show stacks of coverage of this year’s series. It’ll be wall-to-wall WRC. #forgetDownton
16 Finally, my 16th reason for looking forward to this year is the opportunity the World Rally Championship affords the world’s fastest rally drivers and most dedicated co-drivers. If, by the way, anybody’s looking for a dedicated co-driver with WRC experience, a working knowledge of Chinese food and a plentiful supply of Caramel Wafers… you know where I am.