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WRC - 2019 FIA World Rally Championship Rally Australia - Preview

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The 2019 FIA World Rally Championship season reaches its conclusion on the gravel roads of Rally Australia (November 14-17), where the battle for the manufacturers’ title goes down to the wire.

Previously based in Perth, Rally Australia moved to New South Wales ten years ago and has been now located in Coffs Harbour for most of this decade, since 2011. The surrounding area provides an exciting mix of gravel stages, combining rugged and dusty forest tracks in the bush with wider and faster roads through the open countryside.

After Ott Tänak and navigator Martin Järveoja claimed their maiden drivers’ and co-drivers’ title last time out on Rally de España, all eyes are now on the fight for the manufacturers’ crown. The battle will be raging between Hyundai, seeking to win its first FIA WRC title with an 18-point advantage, against the defending Champion, Toyota.  

While the Japanese manufacturer relies on its regular trio of drivers featuring Tänak, Kris Meeke and Jari-Matti Latvala, the South-Korean squad has once again tweaked its line-up, with Thierry Neuville joined by Dani Sordo and Craig Breen, although 2016 Rally Australia winner Andreas Mikkelsen had been initially announced on the entry list. At M-Sport Ford, New Zealander Hayden Paddon enters with a third Ford Fiesta, alongside Elfyn Evans and Teemu Suninen, on an event on which he finished second in 2018 and third in 2017.

In the drivers’ competition, the fight for the runner-up spot remains alive between Rally Spain’s winner Neuville and six-time WRC Champion Ogier, separated by just 10 points in second and third respectively. There’s also a thrilling battle ahead between the drivers in fourth to ninth position, covered by only 13 points. With 30 points available in Australia, the top 10 could be looking very different at the end of WRC’s grand finale!

In the support championships, Škoda Motorsport has won it all in the FIA WRC 2 Pro category this season, by securing the drivers’ title with their factory crew of Kalle Rovanperä and Jonne Haltunnen on Rally GB, as well as the manufacturers’ title last time out in Spain. In Australia, the focus switches to the FIA WRC 2 class, where the champion is still to be decided between Pierre-Louis Loubet – the winner in Portugal and Italy earlier this year – and Benito Guerra, who started his campaign with a victory on home soil in Mexico in March. Both contenders will be driving a Škoda Fabia R5, with the Frenchman leading his Mexican rival by 16 points.


Changes for the 2019 event include an earlier start to the competitive action in the form of two runs over a revamped Super Special stage near the Coffs Harbour jetty on Thursday afternoon. On Friday, the crews will travel north for morning and afternoon loops of the familiar Coldwater and Sherwood tests and the new Kookaburra Road, blending sections from a number of previous stages, while two further passes of the super special will end the event’s longest leg. On Saturday, the action will head south to the flowing farmland tests of Northbank and Utungun, joined by the classic shire roads of the Argents Hill and Welshs Creek stages. Sunday’s repeated loop also features new stages in Mount Coramba and Lower Bucca, before a longer version of the popular Wedding Bells test, which will again serve as the Power Stage and scene for the final podium ceremony.


Total distance1.084.00 km
Stage distance:324.53 km (30%)
Number of stages:25


Media accreditation is located at the Media Center, Pedders Rally Central - C.ex Stadium, Stadium Drive, Coffs Harbour NSW 2450 (GPS reference: -30°19.387’S, 153° 5.667’E).

The opening hours are: 

Tuesday 12 November:14:00 - 18:00
Wednesday 13 November: 08:00 – 19:00
Thursday 14 November: 08:00 – 21:00


Wednesday 13 November 
Mandatory media safety briefing, Photographers’ Room, Media Center17:00 hrs
Thursday 14 November 
Mandatory Shakedown for P1, Lower Bucca State Forest08:00 - 09:30 hrs
Shakedown for all Priority drivers (P1, P2), Lower Bucca State Forest09:30 – 11:30 hrs
Shakedown (others), Lower Bucca State Forest11:30 - 13:30 hrs
‘Meet the Crews’ Top 3 Shakedown, Pedders Rally Central, Coffs SP12:00 hrs
FIA Press Conference, Press Room, Media Centre, Coffs SP12:45 hrs
Starting with P2 drivers (5’) 
Followed by P1 drivers (10’) 
Family photo with P1 crews, Marina, Marina Drive, Coffs Harbour*15:00 – 15:20 hrs
* Instructions on activity and route to be provided in Bulletin  
Ceremonial start & autograph signing session for P1 crews at Rally Show, 15:30 hrs
Jetty Precinct, Jordan Esplanade, Coffs Harbour 
Start of Section 1, Destination NSW SSS Coffs Jetty16:27 hrs
Friday 15 November 
Start of Section 2, Coffs SP08:00 hrs
First car arrives for regroup, media zone & service, Coffs SP11:51 hrs
First car arrives for technical / media zone & final service, Coffs SP17:10 hrs
‘Meet the Crews’ post-Leg 1, Pedders Rally Central, Coffs SPDuring the 45’ service
Saturday 16 November 
Start of Section 5, Coffs SP07:30 hrs
First car arrives for regroup, media zone & service, Coffs SP12:52 hrs
First car arrives for technical / media zone & final service, Coffs SP19:07 hrs
‘Meet the Crews’ post-Leg 2, Pedders Rally Central, Coffs SPDuring the 45’ service
Sunday 17 November 
Start of Section 7, Coffs SP06:15 hrs
First car arrives for Regroup after SS 21, Wedding Bell08:17 hrs
First car arrives for regroup, media zone & service, Coffs SP09:33 hrs
Rally Finish13:28 hrs
Podium Ceremony & Price Giving after SS25, NSW Forests Rally VillageFrom 14:20 hrs
FIA Press Conference, Press Room, Media Centre, Coffs SP15:45 hrs


Thursday 14 NovemberFIA WRC
 Ott TÄNAK (EST), Toyota Gazoo Racing World Rally Team
 Thierry Neuville (BEL), Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team
 Sébastien OGIER (FRA), Citroën Total World Rally Team
 Hayden Paddon (NZL), M-Sport Ford World Rally Team
 Pierre-Louis LOUBET (FRA)
 Benito Guerra (MEX)
Sunday 17 NovemberWinning FIA WRC 2 Championship crew
 Top three crews in the overall classification
 Representative of the winning manufacturer


Hyundai Shell Mobis WRTThierry Neuville / Nicolas Gilsoul (#11)
 Dani Sordo / Carlos Del Barrio (#6)
 Craig Breen / Paul Nagle (#18)
Toyota Gazoo Racing WRTOtt Tänak / Martin Järveoja (#8)
 Kris Meeke / Sebastian Marshall (#5)
 Jari-Matti Latvala / Miikka Anttila (#10)
Citroën Total WRTSébastien Ogier / Julien Ingrassia (#1)
 Esapekka Lappi / Janne Ferm (#4)
M-Sport Ford WRTTeemu Suninen / Jarmo Lehtinen (#3)
 Elfyn Evans / Scott Martin (#33)
 Hayden Paddon / John Kennard (#20)


The provisional classifications for all the WRC Championships is available on the following link: