Saturday | 10 Nov 2018

6 days to Australia: Teams ready for three-way battle

The race for the WRC manufacturers’ title will reach a thrilling climax at next weekend’s Kennards Hire Rally Australia (15-18 November) as three teams go head-to-head for the championship.

Toyota Gazoo Racing leads with 331 points heading to the final round of a pulsating season. But with 43 available for a one-two finish, both Hyundai Shell Mobis (319 points) and M-Sport Ford (306 points) can still snatch the crown.

All three teams also have a chance of pushing one of their drivers to the WRC drivers’ title, adding extra excitement to the action in New South Wales.

Toyota boss Tommi Mäkinen is confident the recent progress his squad has made on gravel will help the Japanese manufacturer secure its first world title since it returned to the series in 2017.

“It is not going to be easy, but we have reasons to be confident,” he explained. “We showed good performance on gravel in Britain and in Spain, and we seem to have found some improvements in these kinds of conditions, which are quite similar to what we should face in Australia.

Mäkinen's Toyota team currently leads the standings

“Everybody is working hard towards our target, and with a strong car and three strong drivers, I think we have a good chance to reach it.”

Hyundai also hopes to mount a determined bid for a maiden WRC title. But team principal Michel Nandan knows his squad must halt a disappointing run of form that has cost the lead of both the drivers’ and manufacturers’ championships.

“We head to Australia with both titles wide open,” he said. “On the one hand, we know we have let our grasp of the titles loose over recent rallies. But at the same time, we remain as determined as ever to secure a maiden title.”

M-Sport Ford has the most work to do to defend its crown but team boss Malcolm Wilson is optimistic Elfyn Evans and Teemu Suninen can secure a good haul of points alongside lead driver Sébastien Ogier.

“It’s a hard task for sure, but anything is possible and Elfyn and Teemu are both keen to play their part and deliver another strong result,” Wilson said.

Head to WRC+ to watch All Live from Kennards Hire Rally Australia, including every stage broadcast live, breaking service park news and expert studio analysis.


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