Car: Škoda Fabia R5
WRC starts: 4
WRC debut: Rally Sweden 2019
Best result: 12th, 2nd WRC 2 (Corsica linea – Tour de Corse 2019)
Wrc.com verdict: Nikolay came into the WRC having demonstrated impressive speed in the European Championship last season – enough to win the ERC Junior under 28 title.
His debut at the sport’s highest level was a measured one in Sweden, but since then his confidence in his surroundings has grown and grown and his speed has started to shine through.
Second in WRC 2 on only his second ever WRC outing in Corsica offered an immediate indication of what he’s about. Gryazin’s well-funded, fast and could be the Russian to finish the job Evgeny Novikov started a decade ago.
Car: Ford Fiesta R5/WRC
WRC starts: 35
WRC debut: Wales Rally GB 2014
Best result: 7th, 1st WRC 2 Pro (Rallye Monte-Carlo 2019)
Wrc.com verdict: Started the year with a magnificent Monte result that was as quick as it was sure-footed on a tricky season-opener.
Since then, the results haven’t flowed in the way the Englishman would have wanted with mechanical issues and a Sardinian mistake costing him the chance to top the WRC 2 Pro table at the year’s halfway point.
He silenced any doubters with superb speed on his World Rally Car debut at Vodafone Rally de Portugal and now has a golden opportunity to demonstrate he can balance that speed with consistency when he returns to a factory Ford Fiesta WRC at next week’s Neste Rally Finland.
Car: Ford Fiesta R5/Toyota Yaris WRC
WRC starts: 19
WRC debut: Neste Rally Finland 2016
Best result: 11th, 1st WRC 2 (Rally Sweden 2018)
Wrc.com verdict: Former racing driver Takamoto Katsuta knows a thing or two about rallying – his father Norihiko is an eight-time Japanese champion.
Katsuta was selected ahead of another famous Japanese son Hiroki Arai (his father is former Subaru factory driver Toshi) from Toyota Gazoo Racing’s development programme. He has benefited from the return of former co-driver Dan Barritt and shown real speed and potential this season.
With plenty of backing from Toyota, Katsuta won’t be short of opportunity to succeed at the highest level, starting with his world championship debut in a Yaris WRC at ADAC Rallye Deutschland next month.
What do you think? Let us know your thoughts about the sport’s rising young stars at the WRC’s official Facebook page here.
Don’t miss part 2 on Friday.