The fight for the 2016 WRC 2 title will go down to the wire at Kennards Hire Rally Australia, where Skoda works team driver Esapekka Lappi is aiming to leapfrog his rivals and secure the crown.
The Finn is currently third in the drivers' standings, trailing leader Teemu Suninen and second-placed Elfyn Evans by 13 points. But with neither of his rivals competing in Australia, Lappi can harvest enough points in his Fabia R5 this week to beat them both. Second place is all the Finn needs to claim his first FIA WRC title.
Of the five WRC 2 registered drivers in Australia, Lappi is the man to beat, having claimed victory on the last three WRC 2 rounds he started. After his triumph on the gravel at his home race in Finland, he then won on asphalt in Germany and completed a hat-trick of victories on last month's round in Great Britain.
Lappi has not contested Australia's WRC round before, but he is able to draw up a class win on the 2013 Rally Queensland, which formed part of the FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship.
“Now we are only one step away, we obviously want to win the WRC 2 title. We are fully aware that the Rally Australia is not a foregone conclusion. However, we do have fond memories of Down Under," said Lappi.
Nicholas Fuchs, also in a Skoda Fabia R5, is likely to be Lappi's closest rival this week. Class winner in Argentina, Fuchs is sixth in the title standings but a decent finish here could be enough to topple Pontus Tidemand from fifth.
Hubert Ptaszek, Jourdan Serderidis and Khalid Al-Suwaidi complete the WRC 2 runners. Al-Suwaidi however is already on the back foot - he arrived in Australia late because of a visa problem