World Rally Championship.

Colin Mcrae seems to be the key man in the current drivers market for season 2001. The Scottish world champion has the option of signing a new deal with current employers Ford, or looking elsewhere for a more competitive assault on the 2001 series.

However, recent form - 2 wins from 3 events - will surely make it a tough decision for Mcrae, who has openly criticised both car and team during his 18-month spell with the manufacturer.

So who can we expect to see driving for whom in next year's championship?

Subaru - Desperate to re-sign Mcrae to make a fearsome driver combination of the Flying Scotsman and current championship leader Richard Burns. Current Subaru driver Juha Kankkunen is unlikely to want a full WRC programme next year.

Ford - Mcrae seems to hold all the aces at the moment - but chances are that he will re-sign after spending the best part of two years developing the promising Focus WRC. Carlos Sainz is likely to stay - with young starlet Petter Solberg into year 3 of a 5-year deal as back up.

Hyundai - Rumour suggests that Alister Mcrae is a target for Mitsubishi, although another year with the Anglo-Korean team seems likely. Swede Kenneth Eriksson is poised to drive again next season.

Mitsubishi - Mäkinen looks unlikely to be moving elsewhere - despite being unhappy about still having to use the ageing Lancer E6. Freddy Loix has had a terrible time with the team, but his future depends on the wishes of team sponsors.

Seat - French star Didier Auriol will continue for Seat Sport in 2001, despite enduring a difficult first season with the often ill handling Cordoba E2. Finnish protégé Toni Gardemeister is also likely to stay - but could be a potential target for Mitsubishi and Skoda.

Skoda - Aiming for a full championship next season, the Czech manufacturer is likely to retain its current line up of ex-Ford and Toyota driver Armin Schwarz, and well backed Spaniard Luis Climent. If Climent does leave, expect rapid young Estonian Markko Martin to take his place.

Peugeot - Another team keen to have Colin Mcrae behind the wheel for next season. Finnish revelation Marcus Gronholm is a definite for next year, while luckless Frenchman François Delecour is expected to be retained for political reasons.

Latest WRC NEWS

Citroën confident of new car success

The boss of Citroën Sport, Guy Frequelin, has made some bold claims about the impending arrival of the new Xsara T4 WRC - scheduled to compete in just 4 rounds of the 2001 series.

"We want to win a rally in the first year. It will be difficult - but that is our objective."

Its likely that Citroën will stick to rallies in mainland Europe for next year, whilst the team also admitted that former Ford driver Thomas Rådström will test the new car again soon.

British Rally Championship NEWS

Yorkshire forest stages make welcome return. <pre> The calendar for next year's British Rally Championship has been confirmed as: March 10/11 Rally of Wales April 28/29 Pirelli International Rally June 9/10 RSAC Scottish Rally June 29/01 SEAT Jim Clark Memorial Rally August 2/4 Manx International Rally August 31/1 MSA Rally September 29/30 Trackrod Rally Yorkshire </pre> Yorkshire forests will return to the series for the first time since 1991 - when a young Colin Mcrae claimed victory in a Subaru Legacy. The new look format answers many of the criticisms levelled at the series this year - which has seen 3 rallies take place in just 5 weeks.

Super 1600 Championship details revealed

Also announced this week was the provisional calendar for the breakaway 1600cc championship for 2 wheel drive 1600cc cars. The championship will have a number of key elements - such as:

Every rally will have centralised service parks and offer bonus reward schemes for marshals.

There will be centralised corporate entertainment, including a pre-event rally show, and special facilities to cater for the Media and VIP guests.

The rally's route must be between a minimum of 80 special stage miles and a maximum of 120.

The championship organisers are confident of attracting around 80 cars per event in the championship, with manufacturer support from Volkswagen, Proton, Peugeot and others.

Finally, this weekend sees both the World Rally Championship and the British Rally Championship in action. The WRC regulars make the long trip south to New Zealand where conditions are said to be treacherous after double the amount of normal rain fall recently.

In contrast, the BRC field will be competing on the MSA Rally in Lincolnshire.

Look out for reports on both events at motorsport.com over the next few days.

© Jamie Edwards - www.e-jamie.co.uk 07/2000.