WITH BOTH WRC TITLES UP FOR GRABS AT THIS WEEKEND’S KENNARDS HIRE RALLY AUSTRALIA (15-18 NOVEMBER), M-SPORT FORD WORLD RALLY TEAM BOSS MALCOLM WILSON HAS DESCRIBED THE UPCOMING CHAMPIONSHIP SHOOT OUT AS ‘RALLYING AT ITS BEST’.
Sébastien Ogier, Thierry Neuville and Ott Tänak are all in contention for the drivers’ title, while their respective teams will also be fighting for the manufacturers’ crown on the New South Wales gravel stages.
M-Sport Ford is the defending manufacturers’ and drivers’ champion and Wilson is hoping Ogier can bring his squad some more silverware before the Frenchman departs for Citroën Racing in 2019.
“I can’t remember the last time we went into the final round with the championship as close as it is at the moment. This is rallying at its best and I’m excited to see how the action unfolds,” Wilson said.
“Sébastien and Julien [Ingrassia] are in prime position – leading the standings by a slender three points but leading the standings nonetheless.
“They know how to win championships and they know what it takes to win in Australia. The whole team are behind them, and we are determined to see them end their time with us in the best possible way.”
Neuville won down under 12 months ago
Chasing down the reigning champions is the Hyundai Shell Mobis squad and team boss Michel Nandan is expecting a wide-open fight in Australia.
“It will be far from easy,” he acknowledged. “All four manufacturers will be vying for victory, aiming to finish the season on a high, so it looks set to be a fierce contest – arguably the ideal way to end what has been a truly fascinating season.”
Toyota Gazoo Racing heads to the Coffs Harbour-based rally targeting its first titles since returning to the WRC in 2017, and team principal Tommi Mäkinen is confident his team can be successful at the final round.
“This has been a thrilling season with many ups and downs, and everything is set for a very exciting final round in Australia,” he said. “We have a great opportunity in front of us: to win a championship in just our second year would be a fantastic achievement.”