Gigi Galli has predicted that Repco Rally Australia next month will be crucial for BP Ford Abu Dhabi's Mikko Hirvonen as the battle for the 2009 WRC drivers' title heads into the final three events.
Galli has been unable to compete this season due to budgetary issues, but despite his absence he has kept an eye on proceedings and reckons with the gap between the top two so small - Hirvonen is just three points in front of Sebastien Loeb - the fight could go all the way to the wire.
"I think everything may be decided in Australia. It is a new rally for everybody. At the moment the championship standings are very close and there are only three rallies left," Galli stated in an interview with Crash.net Radio
"Sebastien is obviously the favourite on tarmac in Spain [the penultimate round in the 2009 World Rally Championship] and if Mikko is able to do something good in Australia we will have a big battle until the end in GB. Also I hope it will be a big fight because we all deserve that."
Asked about this year's championship in general, Galli noted that it has probably been a bit easier to get decent results, as there are less drivers - and two less manufacturers' - competing at the top level.
"There are not a lot of big differences in comparison to 2008. Even last year the most competitive cars were the Fords and the Citroens. However there are less drivers competing and probably more chances to have some good results," he explained.
"You can see that with Petter [Solberg] and what good results he has had this season [with a privately run Xsara WRC]."
As for the future, Galli is hopeful that the new regulations will attract more manufacturers' and close up the field.
"The base will be Super 2000 with a 1.6 litre engine [in 2011]. I hope it will be a good chance for a new manufacturer to come in and to show off its car.
"I hope the cars will be more the same, more level too, in order to have more drivers challenging for the victory," he summed-up.
TO LISTEN TO THE INTERVIEW IN FULL WITH GIGI GALLI: CLICK HERE