A host of CAMS Australian Rally Championship regulars will compete against the world’s best on the Coffs Coast, with the WRC entry list revealed this week.
With ARC entries to be confirmed next week, the WRC entry list reveals a number of competitors are expected to enter both the ARC and WRC components of the event including current ARC leader Eli Evans in his Skoda Fabia R5.
Evans will be looking to seal another Australian title against fellow contenders Harry Bates, Steve Glenney and Molly Taylor who are also mathematical chances to take Australia’s top prize.
Joining their fellow countrymen are Lewis Bates in the Neal Bates prepared Toyota Corolla S2000 and Luke Anear who has enjoyed a solid debut ARC season, while Wayne Morton returns to the ARC for the first time since April’s Forest Rally.
In a hugely diverse field for the season finale of both the ARC and WRC, 29 crews from 11 countries and five continents will be heading to the picturesque Coffs Coast to compete on 318km of rural and forestry gravel roads as part of the Kennards Hire Rally Australia.
Headlining the international entry list is defending five-time champion Sébastien Ogier, current points leader Thierry Neuville and Estonian Ott Tänak all contending for the championship title.
Ahead of this weekend’s penultimate round in Barcelona, Neuville currently leads the Championship on 189 points, seven points ahead of Ogier and Tänak a further 14 behind the Frenchman.
While Neuville will be confident going into Australia’s final round after winning it last year, the Belgian will have to be mindful of fellow Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT teammate Andreas Mikkelsen, after the Norweigan took out last year’s first leg and won outright in 2016.
A mid season slump to the 2013 and 2014 Rally Australia champion in Ogier saw him give up his outright lead, but the recent Great Britain victory and a strong result in Barcelona could set him up for a sixth major title.
Tänak will have strong support from Toyota teammates Esapekka Lappi and Jari-Matti Latvala who have also confirmed their entry for Rally Australia, with both Finish drivers looking to secure top-five finishes.
Pedro Heller from Chile leads the WRC2 field, alongside brother Alberto, Italian Gianluca Linari and German debutant Armin Kremer, while another Italian in Enrico Brazzoli and Louise Cook from Great Britain are the eligible WRC3 representatives.
With the WRC’s championship likely to be decided on the Coffs Coast, as well as the ARC final, event Clerk of the Course Wayne Kenny was thrilled with narrative set to take place.
“A fantastic line-up of the world’s fastest rally drivers and cars has entered Kennards Hire Rally Australia,” Kenny said.
“Drama and unpredictability are always waiting in the wings in the WRC and with Rally Australia being the deciding round for the first time in many years, the action will be awesome.
“The top teams are flying out their best machinery for Australia. The cars are loud and exciting and the fastest in the history of the world championship.”
Final entries for the ARC, the R6 Digital Cup, the MTA CAMS New South Wales Rally Championship and Rally Australia Classic Cup are all set to be released in the coming weeks.
The Kennards Hire Rally Australia will take place on 15-18 November on the Coffs Coast in New South Wales.