Stuart Loudon guide to Kennards Hire Rally Australia

Stuart Loudon guide to Kennards Hire Rally Australia

15.11.2016: Hard as it is to believe, this week’s Rally Australia will be the final outing for the Volkswagen Motorsport team. Incredible.




Hard as it is to believe, this week’s Rally Australia will be the final outing for the Volkswagen Motorsport team. Incredible.

 


Instead of dwelling on a decision which took the World Rally Championship by surprise soon after last month’s Wales Rally GB, let’s focus on what lies in store this week: the potential for a fabulous and hugely successful swansong for the sport’s all-conquering team from Hannover.
 


Running first on what are set to be some of the hottest and loosest gravel roads of the season, Sébastien Ogier will face one of the toughest tasks of his entire career to end his time with Volkswagen with victory. But, if anybody knows how to find fortune in the face of adversity, it’s the four-time champion.
 


Otherwise, it’s going to be down to Jari-Matti Latvala and Andreas Mikkelsen – both of whom are in more favourable positions on the road – and the latter will need an outstanding performance if he’s going to wrest second place back from Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville.
 


It’s almost impossible to call a winner this week and with the sun shining on some of the most entertaining stages of the season, we’re set for an absolute thriller down under.



And let’s not forget, while the drivers’, co-drivers’ and manufacturers’ titles are decided, WRC2 is still up for grabs. Third place will be enough for Škoda driver Esapekka Lappi to break his fellow Finn Teemu Suninen’s heart and take the title.
 


Rally Australia is, of course, back as the calendar’s final round – returning to that position for the first time since 2005 – and represents the end of the road for not only the Polo R WRC, but the current generation of World Rally Cars.
 

Sad as we might be to say goodbye to Volkswagen and the current cars, let’s not forget what lies in wait in 2017!
 



Last year



Sébastien Ogier, Julien Ingrassia and Volkswagen celebrated a third successive world title in style on this event last season.



The number one Polo R WRC was always going to struggle opening the road on day one, but once the masterful Ogier had somebody sweeping something resembling a line on Saturday, he began a fightback which rushed him to the top of the leaderboard following the final day two test.



Kris Meeke and co-driver Paul Nagle remained the only men capable of getting among the Volkswagens and led for much of the event’s first half – before slipping to third behind Ogier and Jari-Matti Latvala/Miika Anttila at the finish.




Result: 1 Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) 2h59m16.4s; 2 Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) +12.3s; 3 Kris Meeke/Paul Nagle (DS 3 WRC) +32.6s.
 


Stuart Loudon’s key stage: Nambucca 50.80km (31.56 miles)


This monster runs twice, so take your pick, either of them are likely to be key. In terms of tyre wear, the second time through – starting at 1316 – will be done in the heat of the day.
 


Stuart will be watching… the Polos. All of them.


These are the cars which have ruled our world for the last four years and this is the final chance to watch in wonder at what Hannover has produced. Enjoy it.
 



Weather with you:


Rain earlier in the week will clear to bright sunshine as the week progresses. There’s the odd chance of some cloud around, but temperatures will still range from the low to high 20s. In case you’re wondering, that’s a wee bit warmer than Uddingston.
 



Stuart’s restaurant recommendation:



Urban Espresso Lounge (+64 0266511989) urbanespressolounge.com.au


We thought we’d give you a breakfast option given that jetlag is likely to be a feature of the week!






- Sandra Evans - also photos

Permanent-URL: http://www.automobilsport.com/stuart-loudon-guide-kennards-hire-rally-australia---157807.html

15.11.2016 / MaP

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