10. Sebastien Ogier
Some of the biggest names to appear in the IRC this season only contested one round - and Ogier didn't even score on his two guest appearances for Peugeot.
But he still gets the top-10 nod over his fellow interlopers on account of his staggering times in Monte Carlo, where he gained over a minute on eventual winner Mikko Hirvonen as he recovered from an early off. It looked like Hirvonen would have managed to stay ahead, and an alternator failure for Ogier made sure of it. But the Frenchman had still served notice of how impressive he would be in 2010.
One of the IRC's strongest assets is that the growth of S2000 allows top local drivers to compare themselves against the series' rising stars on their home events.
Andreucci was the most impressive of these (Loix ended up sticking around too much to be classed a 'local guest'), as he led for much of the way in Sardinia before finishing second to Hanninen, then triumphed in Sanremo. A fine effort for a man who, at 45, was now over twice the age of rising IRC stars like Mikkelsen and Neuville - especially as he was in a Peugeot rather than the benchmark Skoda.
Having taken Meeke to the 2009 IRC title and run Sebastien Loeb's Citroen during the works team's 2006 absence from the World Rally Championship, Kronos Racing knows a bit about top rally drivers - and it has been impressed with 22-year-old Belgian Neuville this year.
Like any rookie, he has the odd lapse (like his televised crash in Scotland), but his form in both the IRC and Junior WRC this year promised much.
A home podium in Ypres was the highlight - and the two-minute deficit to the leaders was only so big because he drove conservatively once challenges from behind faded.
Everyone knew from Mikkelsen's WRC appearances that he was capable of staggeringly fast stage times. We only saw glimpses of that in his maiden IRC campaign - partly because he joined the series late, partly because his Hankook tyres were not up to speed yet, and partly because he crashed (or broke down) right at the start of rallies too often.
Fighting for victory in the Azores and Scotland showed what he could do, though, and if anyone wondered how much of the speed deficit was down to Mikkelsen and how much the Hankook tyres, they got their answer when he bolted on some Pirellis for the Golden Stage and totally blitzed his rivals.
After impressing on his local IRC rounds in the past, Magalhaes took the bold step of contesting a nine-round programme this year.
He was sometimes a long way off the pace as he focused on learning the unfamiliar rallies, but often his times were very impressive given his inexperience, and mistakes were rare - hence seven straight points finishes to start the year, culminating in his glorious Azores victory.
5. Guy Wilks
Winning on its IRC debut in Scotland last year (after Meeke's disqualification) raised expectations of Skoda UK and its driver Wilks, and that proved hard to live up to in this season's full campaign.
The UK Fabia was not always the same spec as the factory cars, and a lack of testing miles also played a part in Wilks' sometimes low-key form. Injuring his back in Sardinia ruled him out of several mid-season events too.
Given those factors, three podium finishes were a very respectable haul, and only a differential failure denied him another Scotland win. Now he steps into Meeke's shoes at Peugeot UK - but will he find the advancing Skodas as tough to beat as his predecessor did this year?
4. Jan Kopecky
Nominally Skoda's asphalt ace alongside gravel man Hanninen, Kopecky should have had a great title shot in a series that spent so much of its calendar on public roads, and indeed he was Hanninen's closest threat in the points.
But when Skoda decided to rubber-stamp Hanninen's crown by not entering Kopecky for Scotland, it was admitting that its Czech driver had been outpaced this year.
He was unlucky at times and was not exactly blown away by Hanninen early on. But throwing away victories in the Azores and Zlin events did Kopecky no favours and shattered his confidence, as his distant sixth in Sanremo underlined. Needs a big 2011 season.
3. Kris Meeke
Like last year, Meeke started the season with a Monte Carlo crash and then a dominant Curitiba win. Unlike 2009, that didn't prove to be the springboard for a title charge, and he would not win again after Brazil.
Peugeot was frustrated that Skoda seemed to be pouring resources into developing the Fabia, leaving the 207 hard-pressed to stay in touch. Forced to push beyond the limit, Meeke lost countless podium and victory chances to incidents and minor malfunctions.
Now he heads for the WRC with Mini. The IRC has proved that it offers closer competition and a higher media profile than the WRC's supporting classes, but can it be an equally good training ground for the world championship? The likes of Hanninen and Mikkelsen will be watching Meeke's progress with interest.
2. Freddy Loix
It's always so hard to judge part-season entrants. Are their achievements over-praised because they're not around long enough to encounter the bad times? Or do they not receive the credit they deserve because they're quickly forgotten in favour of full-year competitors?
Loix's exploits this season cannot be ignored, though. He took as many wins as champion Hanninen despite contesting seven fewer rallies. A tally of three victories and a third place in four appearances was pretty remarkable, and even though two of those wins were helped by late drama for the leaders, Loix was already in the thick of those fights.
A rising WRC star as long ago as the mid-1990s, the 40-year-old also had the pressure of knowing that his hopes of resuming a full-time top-level career rested on one-off outings - but Loix emphatically showed that he still has what it takes.
In 2010 Hanninen had the sort of season that Meeke had enjoyed in 2009. Both men had been guilty of crashing away a few chances earlier in their careers, but like Meeke last year, this year Hanninen cut out the mistakes without losing any of his blinding speed.
Discount dropped scores and Hanninen would have won the title by 30 points (three wins). Sardinia crash aside, he delivered a podium finish every time he turned up. All three wins came on gravel, but his asphalt form was even more impressive - despite a massive experience deficit on that surface, Hanninen was more than a match for the tar specialists.
The IRC's 'best seven scores count' rule has previously meant that its protagonists' paths didn't cross often enough. To their huge credit, the top teams all entered the majority of events this season, which meant Hanninen had to beat the likes of Kopecky and Meeke (and normally many more) every time out - and he invariably did.
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