December was supposed to be the month when all teams should reveal their novelties for the 2018 season, mainly while preparing for the Rallye Monte Carlo. But, to the present moment, the only changes tested are a modified front bumper of the Toyota Yaris WRC, combining original design with new dive planes, and…. the new side mirrors in the Hyundai i20 Coupé WRC! It seems that the teams whether will wait until the very last moment to show their real modifications, in order to avoid being copied by the competence, or they will introduce them later in the championship, probably after México.
O.Tänak/M.Järveoja, Toyota Yaris WRC, Test in Finland, December 2017 – courtesy of Rallyparadise
The pictures from Rally Paradise taken in the tests Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja and the Toyota Gazoo Racing Team are developing in Finland during this week show they have introduced the new front aero configuration into the original front bumper. Instead of the trapezoidal air inlet used in previous tests (see picture below), the air inlet space is wider on both sides, reaching the lower dive plane, although in fact area of the air inlet is smaller. Also, the top side is different, rounded, following logo contour. That is the original design used in the 2017 season, with the only difference of the two dive planes, already tested in Spain in November or in France the first week of December.
O.Tänak/M.Järveoja, Toyota Yaris WRC, Test in Finland, December 2017 (top) and JM.Latvala/M.Anttila, Toyota Yaris WRC, Test in France, December 2017 (down) – courtesy of Rally Paradise and Stephane Jocquel/Planete Marcus
No other modification has been identified from the pictures of the different tests developed by the Finland-based team. The car incorporates all the modifications already evaluated in November in Southern Spain (see here), which also include a redesigned front aero, with two dive planes and an air outlet on top of front wheel arches, protected with a small wing.
A.Mikkelsen/A.Jaeger, Hyundai i20 Coupé WRC, test in France, December 2017 – picture by Julien Pixelrallye
Hyundai also tested in Southern France in the first week of December. The car used in the test incorporated all the modifications already included in Neuville car since Catalunya (see here) and Wales Rally (here), that is, a redesigned front bumper, with just one, smaller dive plane, a rear wing with bigger supports and enlarged endplates, and bigger rear brakes air outlets, with multiple louvres.
A.Mikkelsen/A.Jaeger, Hyundai i20 Coupé WRC, test in France, December 2017 – picture extracted from sudrallye video
The only modification observed was the introduction of a new design in the side mirrors, which are now very similar to those used by Toyota.
JM.Latvala/M.Anttila, Toyota Yaris WRC, Test in France, December 2017 -picture by Muller Yohan
Citroën also tested in South of France during the first week of December, with a car with the same configuration used in the season 2017. No evidence of the modifications tested by Mikkelsen and Loeb last summer (see here). But the reliability of some aero appendices was again under question, as both Meeke and Breen ended up their test sessions with missing dive planes and side mirrors.
C.Breen/S.Martin, Citroën C3 WRC, Test in Southern France, December 2017 – picture by Seb L@urens
Also, Ott Tänak and Esapekka Lappi put in evidence the reliability of the dive planes and side mirrors of the Toyota Yaris WRC during the tests in France.
O.Tanak/M.Jarveoja, Toyota Yaris WRC, Tests in the South of France, December 2017 – picture by Julien Pixelrallye
Ford also developed some test sessions with Sebastian Ogier and Elfyn Evans, on the roads close to Gap (France) during the first week of December. Same car configuration aligned in 2017 was used in these tests, while new aero design should be under preparation these days, thanks to the recently added support from factory Ford Performance Team, lead by Mark Rushbrook, which seems to be one of the reasons why Ogier decided to remain with the British team.
S.Ogier/J.Ingrassia, Ford Fiesta WRC, Test near Gap, December 2017 -picture by Alex Begot for extremrallye.com