No works efforts from Peugeot, Citroen, Skoda or Mitsubishi. New technical regulations. New 'Manufacturer 1' and 'Manufacturer 2' categories. A two-month summer break.
Yes, the 2006 version of the World Rally Championship will be unlike anything seen in the sport in recent years, and many with pick holes in a championship with just two works manufacturers left and a significant lack of driving strength in depth at the highest level. Yet underneath all that there is a mouthwatering prospect of an epic three driver, three car world title fight, which is just too close to call.
Since the end of last season, both Skoda and Mitsubishi have pulled the plug on the WRC, despite previous rule-changing efforts by the FIA to keep them in. They join Peugeot and Citroen in not running works teams in 2006.
Which leaves last season's works drivers and points scorers Toni Gardemeister, Francois Duval, Roman Kresta, Markko Martin, Harri Rovanpera, Gigi Galli, and Colin McRae without regular drives this season. One is a former champion, four are previous rally winners, and five finished on the podium last season. Most will drive selected events for privateers but none will be in contention for the title.