Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT Australian WRC Rally preview

CitroŽn Total Abu Dhabi WRT Australian WRC Rally preview

10.11.2017: WRC Rallyes 2017 Kennards Hire Rally Australia (16-19 November 2017) Ė For the thirteenth and final round of the 2017 World Rally Championship

 WRC Rallyes 2017
Kennards Hire Rally Australia
(16-19 November 2017) –




 For the thirteenth and final round of the 2017 World Rally Championship, the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT will be aiming to finish the season on another positive note.


 In the Australian rainforest, the C3 WRCs will be driven by Stéphane Lefebvre/Gabin Moreau (no.7), Craig Breen/Scott Martin (no.8) and Kris Meeke/Paul Nagle (no.9).




A RALLY TURNED ON ITS HEAD


Mainly contested in Europe, the FIA World Rally Championship 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.



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 organisers 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 morning.



Families attending the rally will be able to enjoy a close-up view of the action, since the first and second legs conclude with two passes on a super special stage, held right next to the service park. The Raceway super special stage (Saturday morning) and the Wedding Bells Power Stage (Sunday) are equally very popular with the Australian fans.




THE CHALLENGE: FINISH THE SEASON ON ANOTHER POSITIVE NOTE



As the world titles were wrapped up at Wales Rally GB, all the competitors in Australia will have one thing in mind: sign off in style and finish the season on a positive note. Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT and its three crews are no exception to this rule!



With a favourable 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 Kris Meeke, Stéphane Lefebvre and Craig Breen all missed the 2016 rally.


With three appearances between 2013 and 2015, Kris Meeke still 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, Stéphane Lefebvre’s sole appearance in Australia was at the 2015 rally. Stéphane 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 Craig 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!


To coincide with Citroën’s return to the WRC as a works team, we are offering you the chance to receive the latest information live from the rallies via the application WhatsApp: standings, news, photos and videos.



21 timed stages covering a total of 318.33 km.


28 Michelin tyres per driver for the rally, first choice being the Latitude Cross H4 (hard) tyres, with S5 (soft) as the option tyres.


2 wins for Citroën in Australia, in 2004 and 2005 with Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena (Citroën Xsara WRC).



FLASHBACK : 2011 RALLY AUSTRALIA



At the end of a summer that had seen a highly-charged atmosphere develop at Citroën, Sébastien Loeb came into the tenth round of the season with 192 points, compared with 167 for his team-mate Sébastien Ogier.


 The leader could therefore afford to control his pace. However, this first edition of the rally held at Coffs Harbour saw dreadful conditions, torrential rain leaving the stages incredibly slippery. Just after moving past Ogier to take the lead on SS3, Loeb went off the road on the following stage.



Ogier therefore had a golden opportunity to make up ground on his rival, but he too was caught out by the conditions two stages later! The upshot was that both DS 3 WRCs dropped out of contention on day one and had to rejoin under Rally2 rules… meaning Ogier could no longer prevent Loeb from claiming his eighth world title.



 

Sandie BENOIT- photos Citroen

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10.11.2017 / MaP

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