All three Ford Abu Dhabi Fiesta RS WRCs will carry roof liveries voted for by team fans through Facebook. The drivers were asked to describe their driving style and approach to rallies, which generated the image of a predator. An associated theme was developed for the trio, with Latvala adopting a bear, Hirvonen taking on a wolf and Al Qassimi assuming a falcon. Ford's Facebook users then selected their favourite artwork for each driver to be displayed on the cars.
Four privately-entered Fiesta RS WRCs will also compete on the event, in the hands of Matthew Wilson, Evgeny Novikov and Henning Solberg for M-Sport Stobart Ford as well as Ken Block in his Monster World Rally Team car.
The rally base is nestled between the Great Dividing Range – Australia's largest mountain region – and the golden beaches of the Pacific Ocean on the northern coast of New South Wales, approximately halfway between Sydney and Brisbane. Having visited the area on a fact-finding mission back in June, Black contends that preparing well for the runs through gravel special stages, forest tracks and public roads will be absolutely key.
“There is a mix of hard-base roads, some tight-and-twisty and others that are fast-and-flowing,” he revealed. “Some parts closely resemble the countryside in which the rally used to be held in Western Australia; others are similar to the famous Whaanga Coast stage in New Zealand, with dense rainforest vegetation.
“The public (shire) roads are well-maintained, with trees close to the edge of the road in many places; if drivers put a wheel off-line, it will be easy to hit one. Most stages travel through dense forest, so the low angle of the sun in mornings and evenings could be tricky. It creates a 'strobe-like' effect as it flashes through the branches, and it could be hard to read the road.”