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Australia - 15-18 Nov 18

Posted: November 16, 2018 2:39 PM - 2383 Hits

Round 13 - 2018 World Rally Championship

Live Results (Australia 2018) Also available at: rally-base results & ewrc-results.com
National Rally / Classics - Live Results (National Rally Australia 2018)
Radio: WRC All Live Audio Stream
News: www.wrc.com
Event Website: Rally Australia

First stage each day - Irish/UK Times (Coffs, Australia is 11 Hours Ahead)
Shakedown Wed - 21:00
SS1 Thu - 21:03
SS9 Fri - 20:08
SS19 Sat - 19:53
See full Timetable below:

Timetable (Irish Time)

Posted: November 13, 2018 11:46 AM

TOYOTA GAZOO Racing targets title glory in Australia

Posted: November 12, 2018 6:24 AM

TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team travels to Rally Australia (November 15-18) for the final round of the 2018 season, aiming to claim the manufacturers' championship in which it currently holds a 12-point lead. Ott Tänak remains in contention for the drivers' title, 23 points behind the leader, with his fellow Toyota Yaris WRC drivers Esapekka Lappi and Jari-Matti Latvala also within the top five in the standings.

Based in Coffs Harbour on the New South Wales coast, mid-way between Sydney and Brisbane, Rally Australia features a mixture of gravel roads, from twisting forest tracks to more open and flowing country roads.

After shakedown on Thursday morning, the first competitive action will be on Friday to the north of Coffs Harbour, with the new Orara East and Coldwater stages and the unchanged Sherwood all run twice. Saturday's loop is based to the south, and includes two new stages that use parts of the old Nambucca test, plus Urunga and the Raleigh raceway. Both Friday and Saturday end with two runs over a short, water-side asphalt test in Coffs Harbour. The final day of the season on Sunday features three stages all run twice, with the Wedding Bells Power Stage followed closely by the podium ceremony.

Quotes:

Tommi Mäkinen (Team Principal)
“This has been a thrilling season with many ups and downs, and everything is set for a very exciting final round in Australia. We have a great opportunity in front of us: to win a championship in just our second year would a fantastic achievement. As always, it is not going to be easy, but we have reasons to be confident. We showed good performance on gravel in Britain and in Spain, and we seem to have found some improvements in these kind of conditions, which are quite similar to what we should face in Australia. Everybody is working hard towards our target, and with a strong car and three strong drivers, I think we have a good chance to reach it.”

Jari-Matti Latvala (Driver car 7)
“I am really looking forward to Australia. It is a rally that I really enjoy a lot. Firstly, the atmopshere is relaxed and the weather is usually great, so it's a nice place to end the season. Then there are the stages: they have made a lot of changes to the route this year, but we have driven most of the roads before and we know that they are usually quite fast, which is of course what I like! I am going there confident after the speed we have shown recently, and I hope to get a good result to help us to win the championship.”

Ott Tänak (Driver car 8)
“I am going to give it my all in Australia. I still have a mathematical chance in the drivers' championship, and even though it is not really in my hands, I will keep pushing and not give up. In the manufacturers' championship we have the advantage and I think we are in a very strong position. In particular, we can be confident in how our car has been performing on gravel over recent events. Rally Australia is always a challenging event but many of the roads are fast and flowing, and this suits us well.”

Esapekka Lappi (Driver car 9)
“I really want to finish on a high in Australia, and to help the team to win the manufacturers' championship. Last year, this rally for me was all about gaining experience, and hopefully I can use that to have a stronger performance this time. If the weather is dry then we know that the road sweeping will be a big challenge, as there is so much loose gravel on the surface. I got some practice running first on the road there last year, but we also found that it can rain quite heavily. Then, the grip levels can change a lot through the forests.”

Hyundai Motorsport Preview: Rally Australia

Posted: November 12, 2018 6:22 AM

Hyundai Motorsport will set out to claim its first-ever title in the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) next weekend as the 2018 season concludes ‘down under’ at Rally Australia.

The finale of one of the most competitive fought WRC seasons for many years sees a three-way fight in both drivers’ and manufacturers’ championships between Hyundai, Toyota, M-Sport Ford and their respective drivers Thierry Neuville, Ott Tanak and Sébastien Ogier.

Following a thrilling encounter at Rally de España, Ogier now leads Neuville in the drivers’ table by three points, while a two-car finish in the top-five in Spain saw the gap to Toyota in the manufacturers’ battle reduced to twelve points. In Australia, there will be a maximum 30 points available for drivers (25 for victory and five bonus Power Stage points), and 43 for manufacturers (one-two result).

Hyundai Motorsport will field three Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC cars in the final round of the season, an event the team won twelve months ago. Joining last year’s winning crew Neuville and co-driver Nicolas Gilsoul will be Norwegians Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jæger and returning duo Hayden Paddon/Seb Marshall, who claimed a third-place podium result in Australia last year.

The greatest showdown

The dusty gravel and forest tracks of Rally Australia will offer a suitably tricky battleground for all participating crews with a heavily revised route that features 16 new-look stages. A total of 24 timed tests will cover a distance of 318.64km and offer little opportunity for respite over the three days of competition.

Brand new stages are made up of previously unused roads as well as sections of former stages, such as the monster Nambucca test. The spectacle has also been ramped up with two jumps and a water splash at the Destination New South Wales special on Friday and Saturday evenings, as well as a longer, higher jump at the fan favourite Wedding Bells Power Stage.

Team Principal Michel Nandan commented:
“What a season finale this promises to be! After 12 competitive rounds of gravel and tarmac action carried out in a variety of conditions and countries around the world, we head to Australia with both titles wide open. On the one hand we know we have let our grasp of the titles loose over recent rallies but at the same time we remain as determined as ever to secure a maiden WRC title for Hyundai. It will be far from easy. All four manufacturers will be vying for victory, aiming to finish the season on a high, so it looks set to be a fierce contest – arguably the ideal way to end what has been a truly fascinating season. May the best team and crew win!”

WRC Crew Notes: Mikkelsen/Jæger (#4 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)
Norwegians hoping to finish first full season with Hyundai Motorsport on a high Crew showed impressive pace in Australia last season

Mikkelsen said: “Australia has always been a good rally for us. We won there in 2016 and were leading after the opening day in 2017 with Hyundai. Unfortunately we had to retire on the second day but we are usually very fast. I hope for another competitive run this time around. We have not had the season that we’d hoped so I want to end the year with a strong result. All eyes will be on the title fight and we will do everything in our power to support the team and Thierry.”

WRC Crew Notes: Neuville/Gilsoul (#5 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)
Belgians looking to overturn three-point deficit to Sébastien Ogier in drivers’ chase Crew secured victory from second on road in Australia last season

Neuville said: “Recent rallies have not gone our way and we now find ourselves involved in an incredible and intense championship fight. All manufacturers and crews have had ups and downs this season, but we need to put all of this behind us and to focus on a perfect weekend in Australia. The benefit of dropping to second in the drivers’ championship is that we won’t be opening the road on the dusty gravel. It offers only a small advantage but everything counts now. We won from that position twelve months ago and we’ll be targeting the same result next weekend. That will be the best way to take the title.”

WRC Crew Notes: Paddon/Marshall (#6 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)
Paddon looking to recreate podium form in front of travelling Kiwi fans Third place in Rally Turkey remains highlight of season for the crew

Paddon said: “I am looking forward to being back in the Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC for Rally Australia, one of the events to which we most look forward. As always, we will have fantastic support from the travelling Kiwi fans, which gives us a real boost. We finished third in the event last year to finish the season with a podium. I hope we can repeat that sort of result this time around. We’ve been building up our performance level as the season as progressed, so hopefully Australia will be the rally where we can pull the pin and really go for it. I want to end the season on a high.”

Bite-size Australia
24 stages run over three days and a total stage distance of 318.64km
Dusty forest tracks in the bush near to Coffs Harbour, where the rally service park is located
New-look tests for 2018 will offer fresh challenges for all crews
Harbourside super special stages on tarmac designed to offer spectacular viewing for fans
Rally acts as conclusion to one of the most competitive and unpredictable WRC seasons for many years.

Citroen - FINISH THE SEASON ON A HIGH NOTE

Posted: November 12, 2018 6:20 AM

Following its recent victory last time out at Rally Catalunya, Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT's line-up for the final event of the year 'down under' features Craig Breen – Scott Martin and Mads Østberg – Torstein Eriksen. The crews will be aiming to maintain the improving form shown by the team in the second half of the season.

A TOTAL CHANGE OF SCENERY

With a ten-hour time difference, unusual wildlife, a wide variety of road surfaces, partly held on gravel tracks in the Australian jungle, partly on smooth, flowing roads that look remarkably like those in New Zealand, the final round of the season signals a total change of scenery. In this rather unusual context, Craig Breen – Scott Martin and Mads Østberg – Torstein Eriksen, the Red Army's works crews for this round, will nevertheless not be venturing completely into the unknown. They will have the bearings they have acquired throughout the year in the C3 WRC, which was not only in contention for long periods for a podium place here in 2017 but has also proved its competitiveness this season. This was certainly the case during the car's recent victory at Rally Catalunya, which, as the only mixed-surface round on the calendar, is considered to be the year's ultimate all-round test. This year's edition also provided the additional challenge of highly varied weather conditions. Although Craig has only contested this rally once before, last year, he had shown his undoubted ability to adapt quickly as he held fourth place with just four stages to go. His Norwegian team-mate, despite missing last year's rally, is pretty familiar with the specifics of the event, having made three previous appearances down under. Back in the team line-up after having made way for Sébastien Loeb in Spain, Mads knows how important it will be to get on the pace straight away. This will allow him to take full advantage of his eleventh position in the running order on day one and therefore of the 'cleaned' roads, provided of course the weather remains dry. If that is not the case, however, we have already seen in the past that the roads can turn into a bit of an ice rink, where it is preferable to be among the early starters. Eighth on the road on Friday's leg, Craig Breen also has a great chance and will be determined to confirm the very strong pace he has shown recently on gravel.

MINOR ADJUSTMENTS TO THE ITINERARY

With the exception of Coldwater (SS2/SS5), which has not been used since 2014, this year's itinerary features relatively minor changes – tests contested in the opposite direction and various sections of stages pieced together – and will be familiar to the championship regulars. Saturday's leg, the longest of the rally with ten stages and a competitive distance of 133 kilometres, includes the former Nambucca stage, noted for its smooth, flowing surface somewhat similar to the roads in New Zealand, which has this year been split into two tests: first of all, Argents Hill Reverse, then Welshs Creek Reverse. Longer than most Sunday legs (83.96km of timed stages), the final day of racing will see the crews tackle roads to the north of Coffs Harbour, reputed for their bumpy nature, which will be hard on the suspension and dampers. No letting up, right to the end of the season!

WHAT THEY SAID

Pierre Budar, Citroën Racing Team Principal
"After being rewarded for our constant efforts by our recent win in Catalonia, the entire team is determined to finish the season on a high on this overseas round. This is especially true given that last year we were pretty competitive on the first appearance of the C3 WRC in Australia. We'll be hoping that the weather is kind to us on the opening leg and that we can also take advantage of our position in the running order to make the most of our opportunity."

Mads Østberg
"Although I missed this round last season, I'm delighted to be competing here again, especially as I know the stages well, given that they don't change that much from year to year. It's a fast event, really enjoyable to drive. I've always been quick here, even though a bit of bad luck on occasions has meant that results haven't always reflected my speed. I haven't driven my C3 WRC for a little while now but I hope that I'll adjust to it again as quickly as possible. With our road position, in theory, we have a very good chance to do something here. It's up to us now to make the most of the opportunity."

Number of appearances at the event: 3
Best result: 5th (2013)

Craig Breen
"Although last year was my first appearance here in Australia, I had good speed on the stages, until unfortunately I got caught out by a heavy downpour on Sunday's leg. This year, some older sections from 2014 to 2016 have been brought back into the itinerary, but I love this rally and I'll be doing everything possible to compensate for my lack of knowledge of the stages. I have high hopes that I'll be on the pace, as I was during the opening leg on gravel in Spain! Given that it includes parts of stages used in the rally, the shakedown is really representative, so it should help us get our bearings."

Number of appearances at the event: 1 (in 2017)

KEY FIGURES

24 timed stages covering a total of 318.64 km
10 hours: the time difference that the crews will need to adjust to
2 overall wins secured by Citroën at Rally Australia: Sébastien Loeb in 2004 (Xsara WRC) and François Duval in 2005 (Xsara WRC).

A RALLY, A CHALLENGE

The ground itself

Covered with a fine layer of tiny round stones before the cars tackle the stages at full speed, the hard local roads are especially slippery for the first drivers in the running order. When the WRCs, with their powerful engines and considerable traction, begin to mark the lines on the road, the challenge for the crews involves using them as effectively as possible, whilst taking great care not to drift outside of these lines. Otherwise, chances are that the driver will be caught out by a sudden loss of control of the car, such is the difference in grip between being inside – or outside – of the racing lines. You therefore need to know how to slide around corners in controlled fashion. Make a mistake and at best, you lose time and at worst, you end up off the road!

CITROËN SECRETS

Since the rally moved base from Perth to New South Wales (Kingscliff in 2009 and then Coffs Harbour since 2011), Citroën has always been competitive, with no fewer than four podiums (2ndand 3rdin 2009, 3rdin 2013 and 3rdin 2015) in seven years, but it has never quite managed to win the event. In 2011, Sébastien Loeb and Sébastien Ogier were the quickest off the mark, but they both went off, caught out by dreadful conditions caused by torrential rain. In Perth, however, where legend has it that you needed to touch the statue of a Kangaroo in the city centre in order to win the rally, Citroën prevailed at the event on two occasions. It was also there that Sébastien Loeb, according to Didier Clément, his long-time engineer, made an important step forward in his career. At the 2003 rally, he finished as runner-up, twenty seconds behind Petter Solberg after having fought with the Norwegian for long periods for the win. After a difficult Rally Finland, the French ace had made good use of a test session held after the race. Something clicked into place for him, whilst the team also made a few minor but key adjustments to the set-up of his Xsara WRC...

M-Sport - ALL TO PLAY FOR IN AUSTRALIA

Posted: November 12, 2018 6:17 AM

The FIA World Rally Championships are all to play for and M-Sport Ford World Rally Team will fight to defend their crowns at next week’s season finale – Kennards Hire Rally Australia.

Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia are in prime position and hold a three-point advantage going into the title decider. The team also have a mathematical chance of defending their manufacturers’ title – albeit somewhat more challenging with a 25-point deficit overcome.

The EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta WRCs are ready for the battles ahead, and the stage is set for a thrilling final showdown.

Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:
“I can’t remember the last time we went into the final round with the championship as close as it is at the moment. This is rallying at its best and I’m excited to see how the action unfolds.

“Sébastien and Julien are in prime position – leading the standings by a slender three points but leading the standings nonetheless.

“They know how to win championships and they know what it takes to win in Australia. The whole team are behind them, and we are determined to see them end their time with us in the best possible way.

“We also have a mathematical chance in the manufacturers’ championship. It’s a harder task for sure, but anything is possible and Elfyn and Teemu are both keen to play their part and deliver another strong result.

“I don’t think we’ve seen the end of the drama just yet, and rally fans are surely in for a treat whatever the outcome next week.”

RALLY AUSTRALIA THE GRAND FINALE

The stage is set and Rally Australia is ready to host the 2018 FIA World Rally Championship title decider. Nestled on the Gold Coast between Brisbane and Sydney, the coastal town of Coffs Harbour will provide a stunning backdrop for the most exciting finale in years!

Dusty tracks are the order of the rally and the region’s shire roads are combined with those in the surrounding rainforest and bush. There are a number of new stages this year, but the route continues to offer a variety with a mix of tight, twisty sections and those more fast and flowing.

When dry, the loose terrain presents some of the worst road cleaning of the year; and when wet, it becomes treacherously slippery.

The three championship rivals will be watching the skies with intent over the next few days, but there is more than just the weather to contend with – many stages are lined by trees mere millimetres from the road and visibility can often be a challenge as the low sun creates a strobe effect through the trees.

Needless to say, the eventual winner – and the eventual World Champion – will have faced the challenge head-on and come out on top as the best the rallying world has to offer!

SÉBASTIEN OGIER JULIEN INGRASSIA

Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia are on the verge of securing a sixth FIA World Rally Championship for Drivers and Co-Drivers – heading into the final round with a slender three-point lead at the head of the standings.

Opening the road on Australia’s loose gravel is notoriously difficult, but they remain in prime position – leading the championship and thus putting the burden firmly on the shoulders of their rivals.

Having won Rally Australia on three previous occasions, Ogier and Ingrassia know what it takes to tame the unique terrain and another win will see them retain their crown – regardless of what their opponents achieve in the rally or the Power Stage!

Previous starts: 7
Best result: 1st (2013, 2014 and 2015)

Sébastien Ogier said:
“The Championship could not be closer and we head to the final round in Australia with a slender three-point lead at the head of the standings. It’s a very positive place to be compared to where we were when we were 23 points behind two rallies ago, and the pressure is now on our rivals to overhaul the deficit.

“Of course we’re aware that opening the road will not be an easy task, but anything can happen and we are ready for the challenge. We’ve enjoyed a lot of success in Australia over the years and our goal is to add to that success next week.

“We’re ready to do our best, ready to push for a sixth world title, and hopeful of ending what has been an enjoyable and rewarding two years with Malcolm and his team in the best possible way.”

ELFYN EVANS DANIEL BARRITT
Elfyn Evans and Daniel Barritt will be looking to end their season on another high next week – aiming to fight for the top positions and secure their best result at Rally Australia.

The British pairing have endured a tough season with their fair share of bad luck, but are determined to close the year on a positive and help the team secure the best possible result.

Previous starts: 3
Best result: 5th (2017)

Elfyn Evans said:
“I’ve always enjoyed Rally Australia and we’ll be aiming to bring our season to a close with another strong result next week. Following our podium in Spain, it would be great to end the year with another personal best in Australia.

“There’s a friendly and relaxed atmosphere at this event and we’re made to feel welcome from the second we arrive in Coffs Harbour. But the event itself is a real challenge; and totally different from anything else we encounter throughout the year.

“Visibility is often an issue and you have to have complete trust in your notes. Hanging dust isn’t uncommon and when the sun is low it can create a strobe effect through the trees which makes it difficult to read the road. The trees themselves also cast unfamiliar shadows and you really do need to be fully focused and concentrated throughout the weekend.

“I can’t remember a more exciting time in the sport and I think everyone is excited to see what happens next week – ourselves included. We’re ready to give our best and will work hard to deliver the best possible result for the team.”

TEEMU SUNINEN MIKKO MARKKULA
Teemu Suninen and Mikko Markkula will make their Rally Australia debut next week, and the Finnish pairing will need to be fully focused from the word go if they are to compete on the same level as their rivals.

Despite his inexperience, Suninen should never be discounted and the young Finn will be determined to end his season with a positive result for both himself and the team.

Teemu Suninen said:
"This will be my first time competing at Rally Australia, but my preparation is the same and I’ve been watching the videos to make sure we’re as prepared as we can be. I did the recce in 2016 but don’t have all the notes for this year’s stages. We’ll need to be concentrated on the recce to be ready to compete on the same level as everyone else.

“As the last round of the season and with the championships being so close, this is also going to be a really interesting and exciting rally. Seb is still in with a strong chance of taking his sixth world title, and the team also have a chance in the manufacturers’ championship. I am ready to give everything in order to be a part of those fights and to end my season on a high."

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