Mainly contested in Europe, the WEC nonetheless travels overseas on three occasions. Following trips earlier in the year to Mexico and Argentina, the third exotic destination takes the teams to the east coast of Australia. Roughly midway between Sydney and Brisbane, the small coastal town of Coffs Harbour has hosted the event since 2011.
WRC Rally Australia: A challenging finale for competitors
17,000km from Versailles, this gravel rally has its own specific characteristics, with a mix of wide, shire roads through the fields and tight, twisty tracks in the rainforest. The hard ground is often covered with tiny round stones, which can be especially slippery for the drivers, who are first the road. Once it is swept clear, the hard ground provides a high level of grip, unless it decides to rain.
For the 2017 rally, the organizers have devised a more compact course, which predominantly features roads that are well known to regulars at the event. The decisive stage is expected to be the Nambucca speed test, almost 50km long and contested early on Saturday.
The rally provides up close view on a super special stage, held right next to the service park. The Raceway super special stage (Saturday) and the Wedding Bells Power Stage (Sunday) are equally very popular with the Australian fans.
Citroen WRT: The challenge to finish the season on another positive note
As the WRC titles were wrapped up at Wales Rally GB, in favor of Sebastien Ogier and M-Sport WRT, all the competitors in Australia will have one thing in mind: sign off in style and finish the season on a positive note.
With a favorable starting position for the opening leg, the C3 WRC drivers may be able to partially compensate for their lack of knowledge of the roads, due to the fact that Meeke, Lefebvre and Breen all missed the 2016 rally.
Meeke has three appearances at the Rally Australia between 2013 and 2015. He has solid experience of the event. His natural talent helped him to secure fourth place in 2014 and a podium finish the following year. Winner of two rallies this season, in Mexico and in Spain, the Briton will be expecting to be able to fight at the front in Australia.
Meanwhile, Lefebvre’s sole appearance in Australia was at the 2015 rally. The Frenchman stepped in at the last minute to replace Mads Østberg, who was injured during an accident in recce. For his first rally on gravel in a WRC, the young Frenchman set some decent times, especially on the first leg.
For Breen, this will be his very first appearance in the southern hemisphere! Whilst he knows Australia well, the Irishman will be competing at this rally for the first time. However, he has already proven his ability to adapt quickly to new surroundings on several occasions this season.
Edited: Citroen WRT