It’s the end of an era… Volkswagen are leaving… The current type of cars are being pensioned off…
The team that have won the last four world titles will want to go out on a high though. There is a real battle going on for second in the drivers’ standings as well. Thierry Neuville, Andreas Mikkelsen and Hayden Paddon can all finish in that position. There’s just 14 points between Thierry and Andreas, with Hayden a further 3 points away!
These are the stages that await the crews on this WRC Finale!
07:56AM SS1 – UTUNGUN I
08:12AM SS2 – BAKERS CREEK I
08:40AM SS3 – NORTHBANK I
09:48AM SS4 – NEWRY16 I
10:41AM SS5 – RACEWAY SSS I
01:10PM SS6 – UTUNGUN II
01:26PM SS7 – BAKERS CREEK II
01:54PM SS8 – NORTHBANK II
03:02PM SS9 – NEWRY16 II
05:00PM SS10 – DESTINATION NSW SSS I (TV)
05:08PM SS11 – DESTINATION NSW SSS II (TV)
08:28AM SS12 – NAMBUCCA I
09:37AM SS13 – VALLA 16 I
10:37AM SS14 – RACEWAY SSS II
01:16PM SS15 – NAMBUCCA II
02:25PM SS16 – VALLA16 II
04:48PM SS17 – DESTINATION NSW SSS – III
04:56PM SS18 – DESTINATION NSW SSS – IV
07:43AM SS19 – SETTLES REVERSE I
08:06AM SS20 – BUCCA 16
09:38AM SS21 – WEDDING BELLS16 I (TV)
12:15PM SS22 – SETTLES REVERSE II
01:08PM SS23 – WEDDING BELLS16 II (POWER STAGE)
A total of 312.32 km of action over the three days awaits them all! Here’s the views of the drivers before this iconic rally.
Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1
“It is a strange situation for everyone at Volkswagen Motorsport. The announcement of our withdrawal from the World Rally Championship at the end of the year was not the way that we, as a team, wanted to celebrate our fourth title. We will now contest our final rally together in Australia. When I look back at the last five years, I do not only think about the success we have enjoyed together. I am grateful to have worked with such great people at Volkswagen. We have formed genuine friendships over the years. I can only hope that I see as many as possible of them again. The final rally with Volkswagen – that sounds crazy. However, I am sure I will be able to put this out of my mind during the rally. Although my starting position is not exactly promising, I will do everything in my power to ensure that we have something to celebrate together again after our final outing in Australia.”
Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2
“Last week’s news was far from pleasant. It is very difficult to comprehend the magnitude of this decision in such a short time. I can only repeat that I will always remember the time at Volkswagen Motorsport. The many great moments mean a lot to me, and I would like to thank everyone in the team. It is now my duty to focus fully on the season finale in Australia again. I am really determined to do well in my last rally with Volkswagen, and will push hard to try to challenge for the win. My season has not been easy, so a good result in Australia would be doubly nice – particularly as a farewell present to the team.”
Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9
“The Rally Australia will be very emotional, as we all know that it is the final race for Volkswagen. The team has become very close to my heart. I am very grateful for the great time together, and really want to bid farewell with a good result in Australia. That is also important for Anders and me, because we want to take back second place in the Drivers’ and Co-Drivers’ World Championship from my friend Thierry Neuville. To do so, we must go for the win. However, this will not be easy, as we will be third onto the special stages. Despite this, we will apply pressure from the word go and give it our all. The biggest challenge at the Rally Australia are the sections with fast corners, which are hard to see. A rally in the jungle – that is the best description. I am certainly very motivated and looking forward to Australia, as I really like driving there.”
Thierry Neuville commented: “We all love coming to Australia and it will of course be extra special this year as it is the last rally event on the calendar. Compared to Wales, the conditions will be very different. The gravel here can be a bit more abrasive and the temperatures will be much higher, so it will be a completely different challenge for both us and the car. It’s great to come here in the fight for second place. Both Nicolas and I are really looking forward to trying to finish the season on a high note!”
Hayden Paddon said: “Australia a special rally for us as it’s as close as it gets to being at home. We’re really looking forward to having a lot of Kiwis and maybe even a couple of Aussies supporting us. We’re in a really great position overall and I’m sure we can end the season on a real high. We’re going to be pushing really hard. I really enjoy the stages and the surface. We want to put ourselves in position to fight for the win. We want to put on the biggest show that we possibly can and give it our best shot.”
Dani Sordo commented: “I am very excited to be coming to Australia again. It is a really nice area for rallying and a great place to finish the Championship. We had a difficult rally in Wales and we couldn’t manage to get the best out of the car or ourselves. We want to bounce back that’s for sure. I know what we are capable of on gravel with this car. As it is the last race, we will of course try to get the best possible result and end the season on a positive note. We are involved in a close battle in the Drivers’ Championship, too, so it will be an exciting season finale.”
Mads Østberg said:
“Every year I enjoy coming back to Australia and the unique challenges that it has to offer. It really is like nothing else in the championship – so different to anything else we experience throughout the year.
“The character of the stages changes quite a lot and we often switch from very wide, open roads to tight and twisty sections in the forests. Recce is really important. You need to keep the rhythm in your notes and have every tree and rock noted. It’s a big challenge to end the season.
“The event is a little later this year so we’ll have to see how that affects the advantages and disadvantages of running order. Generally, it’s better to be further back, but there is also a risk of hanging dust which can be really challenging so we’ll just have to wait and see how it plays out.
“It’s strange to think that I’ve only contested this event twice before, but we will give it our all and always want to achieve the best possible result.”
Éric Camilli said:
“I’m really looking forward to experiencing another new rally and discovering all of the challenges that Australia has to offer. This is my first time at this event so there will be a lot to learn, but we’re really looking forward to it. From what I’ve seen, it looks like a fantastic rally with amazing scenery and stages.
“As with any new event, the pacenotes that we make on the pre-event reconnaissance will be really important. Thankfully, we have made a big step forward in that area this year. Our pacenotes have progressed a lot over the past 12 months, and next week’s event gives us an opportunity to put everything into practice.
“We want to end the season on a high, but it is also important to complete all of the stages and gain maximum experience. I believe that we have already shown the speed that we can be capable of, so we’ll just take each stage as it comes and aim to build on our performance throughout the weekend.”
Ott Tänak said: “Rally Australia is a special event and one that I really like. It’s a real mix of conditions and a proper challenge. The wide, hard roads are fast and flowing – really enjoyable to drive on. Then in the forests it’s really tricky and you have to be careful, especially with the changes in shade and light. I’m looking forward to it.”
Here’s a list of the former winners of this event.
2015 Sébastien Ogier Julien Ingrassia
2014 Sébastien Ogier Julien Ingrassia
2013 Sébastien Ogier Julien Ingrassia
2012 Event not held
2011 Mikko Hirvonen Jarmo Lehtinen
2010 Event not held
2009 Mikko Hirvonen Jarmo Lehtinen
2008 Event not held
2007 Event not held
2006 Mikko Hirvonen Jarmo Lehtinen
2005 François Duval Sven Smeets
The fascinating battle will begin on Friday morning…. Who will win down under?